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Re: [BKARTS] Tiered pricing - opinions

Don Drake wrote:
>We will begin selling in the collector world that is already familiar
>with his work and who are used to tiered pricing. I'm wondering if this
>is a system that would play out if we expanded our market into to book
>world. Is it ever done for books?

My edition works are sold in a form of tiered pricing with advance
subscription. That is how I finance the production. The lowest price is
offered to regular subscribers, before I even announce the edition
publicly. The advance payments enable me to produce a prototype and put it
on my website.

On the website I announce a pre-publication price schedule by date-- as the
edition gets closer to being finished, the price goes up.  Before the
internet I used to mail out a paper pre-publication price schedule and
prospectus. It makes sense to the subscribers, as the closer it is to
completion, there is less risk I will die before finishing their copy. The
publication price usually is in effect for one or two years. After that,
the price rises. That is for two reasons. One is that I am investing in the
production and storage of the Work, and there is a cost associated with
that. The other is that the Work is often not a finished inventory item,
but has to be completed at the time of sale.

The cost of completing a copy of Minsky in London today, for example, is
substantially higher than it was when I began production in 1979. I have
three copies left of the edition of 25, which is printed letterpress from
Monotype and hand-set type and has 90 photographic prints mounted in it.
Each page is printed on one side and then laminated to the verso, with a
cloth hinge between the sheets. The facing page is laminated to the hinge,
and this folio is then sewn to a folded-N-guard. The guards are then sewn
onto linen tapes, rounded and backed. The covers are silkscreen and color
Xerox heat transfer on bookcloth with a foil-stamped leather spine. One of
my remaining copies is unbound, and one is an exhibition copy that was read
over 1000 times. The cost of the binding alone today is substantially
higher than the first advance subscription price of $400 (that's what the
V&A paid for copy No. 1 in 1979). The publication date price in 1980 was
$1,200.I sold a copy a few years ago for $3,600. Today the price is $4,700.
And if I were to try to reproduce this edition today from scratch, it would
cost more than that.

I discount worn copies (that have been in exhibtions where they could be
handled), and do time-payment arrangements on higher-priced items like The
Bill of Rights edition ($18,000), particularly for institutional
collections where there are budgetary considereations.

One important aspect of pricing that I have always been very strict with is
that once the price of an edition goes up, it never goes lower. By keeping
editions unfinished-- which may mean unprinted if it is by inkjet, or
unbound if letterpress, there is no need to keep more than one finished
copy on hand at any time, so I have no inventory to maintain. Even in the
event of my death, there will be no "remainder sale." And my Will gives
explicit instructions on the disposition of my Works.

I also work with dealers, galleries and institutions that exhibit the Works
and who get commissions on sales.A client pays the same price whether it is
direct fom my studio or through a dealer. The commission rate varies
depending on whether the dealer holds a Work on consignment, orders from my
catalog, or mounts an exhibition with announcements and publicity.


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