Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Print on Demand

Print on Demand books never really appeared -- maybe it was not particularly cost effective, or maybe it would take too long to print a book for it to be useful -- but Slate makes a good argument for DVDs on Demand.
Wal-Mart, which recognizes the same virtue in price elasticity as the Shanghai pirates do, is moving to further reduce the price of DVDs with a plan to burn its own copies of DVDs in kiosks in its stores. Like the Shanghai pirates, the retail giant would buy huge quantities of blanks discs and cheap boxes (probably made in China) at a cost of pennies, but, unlike the pirates, pay a licensing fee to the studios for each copy it burns. The advantage to the customer would be that he could choose a title from among the tens of thousands of movies in the studios' libraries, and also possibly have it in the language and rated-version (G, PG, R, or NC-17) he prefers, while the studios would save the cost of manufacturing, packaging warehousing, and returns.
Unfortunately, the article suggests that WalMart sees this as a ploy to keep customers in the store longer. That would increase the real cost of the service, but the "time rich" may not mind. I'm not sure how many of WalMart's customers are "time rich", but I do not see the value in keeping this segment in stores for longer.

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