Richard, I'm sorry I come across as "griping over the few extra dollars". Like many of us who pay L&L, A-1, Hermetic, Stagewright, and the Genii corp's bills, I am a hobbyist who reads/views/consumes a lot of magic product, without being a pro or even particularlly active as an amateur performer. I just like magic books and tapes.
As Jon R. and others have pointed out, there is a "glut" of stuff being shoveled out by those who produce magic. As I try to be an intelligent consumer, I question as much as I can in order to spend my dollars wisely. I not only question the content (which product is original? well-explained? clearly illustrated? engaging? entertaining?) but the format (book vs. notes vs. tape vs. magazine vs. DVD), and even pedestrian issues like price.
"Value" has come up already in this discussion, and I think it is such a subjective term that for one person to tell another that something is worth a few more dollars is almost meaningless -- I don't own a DVD player, so right now, DVDs are worthless to me, despite added features, clarity, and the fact that they take up less space than a tape (a factor which I am sure I will appreciate when I do make the digital leap).
It may be that L&L is doing DVD's as a "loss leader" or maybe taking a loss now to invest in the future -- but I seriously doubt it. With a market as small as you describe, I can't imagine that the publishers can afford to lose any of their existing profits. But I could be wrong.
Sometimes, I think, there is a tendency to criticize those who question the price of any magic product, as if to do so is disrespectful of the craft of magic, the creativity of magicians, the "value" of the secrets, etc. I ran into this a couple years ago on the Electronic Grymoire, when I pointed out that Daryl's 3 Fly 3 is $15, when Kenner's manuscript is less than $10, and other variants of the routine can also be had for substanially less (i.e., the July 1999 issue of Genii). Such criticism misses the point (and I don't take Andrew's or Richard's comments to be such criticism). The more magic is turned into a commodity or business or even an industry, the more appropriate it is to question the marketing and pricing strategies used by the publishers.
I haven't been in magic long enough to remember the days of $60 and higher tapes, but clearly that was too high a price point.
It may turn out that the price point for a DVD will settle out at $35. If so, there will be some that are bargains at that price, and some that are doomed to be remaindered. I look forward to the good ones.
Now, some specific comments:
Andrew: "we can't begrudge an incremental change like this"
Sure we can. And we should begrudge every dollar we spend. That's the only way to force publishers to put out good product -- by refusing to buy that which is bad, or overpriced.
Andrew: "As much as I think they can improve, L&L has set a higher standard in video production". Horse manure. The first half of that statement is so wrong. Almost every magic videotape I have seen is poorly scripted, underdirected, could use more takes and camera angles, and is severely lacking in post-production. When Harry Lorayne leaves out credits, then dammit, stop the camera, write them down, let him memorize them, and re-film that portion. Don't do a graphic at the end of the tape. L&L is better usually than A-1, but they certainly can improve. Dan Harlan just lectured here and said that he did nearly all of the performances in his new set in one take each. You simply can't do 6+ hours of video straight through without leaving tons of room for improvement. Yes, it will cost more -- maybe more than the market will bear -- but let's not kid ourselves into thinking that the average magic video in today's market has anything like the production values of even your local UHF TV station's newscast.
Andrew: "Yet, no one complains when A1 puts out a one camera shoot with no shooting script and sells it at the same price point." Well, we should. And I think Mike Close and Matthew Field have both recently commented on problems just like these on recent video reviews -- more power to them.
Richard: "One good thing about DVDs is that they are easier to copy protect, so they will lesson the flow of easy to make bootleg tapes." Except that it's just as easy to make a videotape copy of a DVD as it is to make a videotape copy of a videotape. And I can't imagine that the copy protection of DVDs is robust enough to survive very long -- too many hackers copying mass market DVDs.
Sorry to get on such a soapbox . . .
[ September 16, 2001: Message edited by: bill mullins ]
[ September 17, 2001: Message edited by: bill mullins ]