You know how sometimes there’s just something going on in the air and you can’t help but notice seeing an awful lot of mentions of it?
(And no, I’m not talking about the Watchmen movie. Don’t get me started on that, I live with an Alan Moore purist and we will not be going to see it).
Something I have noticed popping up a lot recently: Smartflix, a Netflix-style rental service for crafty- and superspecialized DVDs, as well as a trend towards LYSs renting craft DVDs for an upfront charge (usually around $5). But, if you don’t return it within a week, you are charged for the full amount less the $5 you put up front. This isn’t new — I can’t remember who it was, but in the pre-DVD era, some enterprising person rented craft-related VHS tapes, too.
My initial thoughts on services like these, especially the ones where you-forget-to-return-it, you-bought-it…
- Pro: Good way to see if it’s actually useful to you before you buy
- Con: Creator of the DVD sees none of that rental revenue and potentially loses sales (I’m not sure how the old-school movie rental places did it, but there’s got to be licensing or something in place, yes?)
- Pro: Wider exposure for your DVD
- Con: It’s not exactly difficult to rip DVDs if you know what you’re doing
Et cetera. What do you think? Does your LYS rent how-to knitting DVDs? Would you rather rent them for $5-10 dollars, or just have the ability to buy them upfront at a lower price? Most knitting DVDs I would want to purchase (cough! cough!) are in the $20-50 range.
If you had a choice between renting it for $5-9 and just flat out buying it for $10-15, what would you rather do? Or is $20 a reasonable price for a DVD of a class you’d pay $40 or more to take in person?
I’ve got a dear friend who is a filmmaker and we have contemplated making DVDs of some of my more popular class topics since I don’t teach in person as much anymore — too busy with the magazine and stuff! That said, this trend towards rentals is intriguing and a little scary. I hate to be crass about it, but if I won’t be able to make a decent return on the amount of effort it would take to create a really good quality DVD, then it’s not worth doing, at least not immediately.
The bonus, of course, is that I’d be able to reach a much wider audience than I would with classes — not everyone is local to where I teach, or easily able to get there, and if the cost of a DVD-based class or series is less than what a class generally would be in person, then that’s a consideration for the end user, too.