On-demand back catalog production
Stumbled across an interesting post at Blogcritics today: Blogcritics: How to Keep Inventory Down but Keep Rare Items in Stock? CD-R's, in which Eric Olsen notes a news story about the Smithsonian Institute's novel* method for keeping inventory down without allowing any items to go out of print:
When the Smithsonian Institution bought Folkways from the Asch estate in 1987, the museum agreed to keep every title in print. Initially, requests for rare, out-of-stock albums were fulfilled with dubbed cassettes.
Now, music fans hankering for "Burmese Folk and Traditional Music" from 1953 can pay $19.95 and receive a CD-R "burned" with the original album, along with a standard cardboard slipcase that includes a folded photocopy of the original liner notes.
This idea is very similar to something I posted about last October, in reference to the Internet Bookmobile. It's also quite similar to an idea I had for a revamp of music sales.
Our Barnes & Noble doesn't have a music section, which annoys me. Ordinarily, today I would stop by on the way home and buy Dar Williams' new CD there, but as they don't have a music section, in order to use our Reader's Advantage discount we had to preorder the disc from the website… which means waiting for it to ship. It seems to me that there's an easy way for B&N to set up a music section in a very small section of the store and yet have a complete inventory—by burning the CDs on demand. (I swear I've posted about this before, but I cannot find the post.)
I hate walking into a music store and finding that they don't have the CD I want; a just-in-time delivery model would make that a thing of the past.
* Okay, not really novel, if they've been doing this since 1996. But it's not mainstream or expected.
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