8-bit Software Magazine (c) Duncan Webster 1991
Issue 14 July 1991
I am pleased to be able to say that I have had a response from another
PD library to the charging articles published by 8BS in the past.
Adam Case has been running an Archimedes PD library for quite some
time, and he has been kind enough to send me his views on the matter
of charging. Anyone else wishing to air their views can do so. I
promise NOT to edit any documents received unless they praise 8BS - I
am looking for independent views and this section has not been set up
to promote 8BS.
User: Adam Case of Arch PD...
I read with interest the comments about how PD libraries seem to be
overcharging in the last issue, but many people do seem to vastly
underestimate the cost of running a PD library.
I run Arch PD, a library for the Archimedes, and one of our main aims
is to keep the price of PD down to a very minimum (currently #1 a disc
or 50p if you send formatted discs and postage). If people do send
me unformatted discs, I just send them back without copying them, and
I tend to keep discs sent without adequate postage. Some people seem
to think that a 22p stamp counts as return postage, but I won't
supply the padded envelope for them for free, because it means that
other people will have to foot the bill for it in the long run. The
obvious costs are for the discs and postage. When bought in bulk,
good quality 3.5" discs can be obtained for under 35p each. Padded
envelopes are 16p each, and postage costs 22p for the first disc, and
approximately 6p for each subsequent disc. The total cost comes to
about 50p per disc.
I then have to think about other charges. I have to produce a
catalogue, which needs to be laser printed and then copied. This has
to be sent out to people (most of which just won't send us an SAE).
I have numerous other costs including paper and cartridges for my
printer, ordering new PD discs from other libraries, and postage for
returning discs to people after swapping PD software with them. All
the little bits quickly add up, and the 50p I charge on top of media
and postage is only just enough to cover these costs and the
occasional advertising costs. Advertising costs are very high. A
small insert in the back section of magazines now costs over well
#100, excluding VAT! The PD libraries that charge more than #2 for
one disc are usually those who advertise in most magazines every
month. I only advertise occasionally in one magazine, but it is
still difficult to cover costs, and keep the price down to a mimimum.
Perhaps magazines should think about giving discounts to non profit
making enterprises? There is also the copying fee. PD libraries can
justify almost any cost to cover copying time, but I feel that
anything over 50p per disc is unreasonable. I do not charge anything
for copying time at the moment, because surely this is equivalent to
making money out of distributing PD. I am sure that a number of Arc
libraries are just "in it for the money". Several people I know
wrongly consider a PD library to be an excellent get rich quick
scheme, and one Arc PD library owner does not even have an
Archimedes! So considering all this, it seems that anyone charging
over #1.50, who does not donate their profits to charity (which is a
good idea, practised by Norwich Computer Services and Diamond PD)
must be making a profit, and they help to give the whole PD scene a
bad name. Having said this, BBC and Archimedes PD is very cheap.
Those of you with a PC will probably know that the average price of
PD and Shareware for this machine is well above #3 per disc, with
some companies charging around #5 for one 5.25" disc, and an extra
postage cost on top. While you can easily get Arc and BBC PD discs
for under #1.50, don't complain. The price is bound to go up in the