See, it’s stuff like this which, I suppose, makes me a bad business man.
Warner Bros is going to be pulling a Disney maneuver and locking away the Harry Potter films “in their vaults” for some time. So, very soon, you’ll not see the first movie on the shelves at the shops anymore. Then the second will disappear and so on until you can’t buy a new copy of any Harry Potter movie.
Let me stop right there and tell you about The Lion King.
As a circulation librarian, I take a lot of requests and place a lot of holds. My small town library took well over 100,000 requests last year from all over our system and filled over 99,300 right here in our library. Not bad, especially when you consider our collection is, currently, only 73,000 and change. Of those requests, one of the more frequent was Disney’s classic, The Lion King.
Ah, but there was a snag. Our copies of The Lion King were all withdrawn or removed from the collection due to damage, wear and tear, theft, long overdue, and so on. Until recently, when the movie reopened in cinemas a couple of months ago, we couldn’t replace it. It was “locked in Disney’s vaults” and not available for sale. So all of those kids, all of those parents, all of those adults who wanted to relive a moment of childlike glee – all of those people who wanted to see The Lion King….
Now, what the corporations will tell you is that, by locking these things away you’ll drive up demand and then when you start re-releasing them again (one piece at a time, then probably as some kind of boxed set) you’ll make bank because now everyone wants it and now, for the first time in a while, they can get it.
Naturally, this includes libraries. We’ve ordered well over a hundred copies of the re-release of The Lion King. We’re restocking hard and fast because, who knows when it’ll come out again? I don’t know much about the consumer market, but I bet your average household family (mom, dad, couple of kids) didn’t buy more than two copies of that movie. I’m certain they didn’t buy over a hundred copies, yet publishers and media distributors seem to think libraries are the enemy and they’re working to limit what we can get and how many we can purchase for our patrons. Yet we buy far more than your average family would ever purchase.
That’s not the point of this however. My point is that Disney was incredibly foolish and, once again, working on a totally outdated business model when it came to The Lion King - and so is Warner Bros. I lost count of how many people came to our front desk with a kiddo or two and asked for The Lion King and then had to console said kiddos because I told them we not only don’t have it, but we can’t get it because Disney isn’t selling it. It happened a lot, as in several times per month.
You know what I also lost count of? I lost track of how many of those people thanked me for my help, told me that they understood the situation and that there’s nothing the library can do about, and then – as they walked away from the front desk – told their kiddo that it’ll be okay…
They’d just go home and download it from the Internet.
Media corporations thrive on want. They want you to want their products because really, they’re not selling anything you need. They’re selling things that you want. Now, years ago, this meant that corporations could do these kinds of things, limit the supply and drive up demand. Keeping the customers wanting, while depriving them of satisfaction only meant you got more money when the product finally shipped.
Folks, that doesn’t work anymore. People have new avenues open to them. Corporations created the culture of want and now it’s come back to bite them because now customers can get what they want, and they don’t have to involve the producer at all. They’re certainly not going to involve the producer or the corporation if the corporation is throwing roadblocks in their path to “drive up demand.”
People wanted a copy of The Lion King and so did libraries. We had money to give to Disney and say “HERE! TAKE OUR MONEY AND GIVE US YOUR DVDS!”, but no, that wasn’t allowed. It wasn’t even for sale. So people stood there, with that odd look on their faces that most people get when you try and give someone money and they refuse it. The good people might have checked around for another vendor, maybe went to WalMart after shopping at Target. And yet they couldn’t find The Lion King anywhere. They couldn’t buy it on Amazon. They couldn’t buy it at Target. They couldn’t buy it at WalMart. They couldn’t stream it on NetFlix. They couldn’t check it out from their library.
So they hopped on over to The Pirate Bay and got it there. Hey, they tried to give someone, anyone, some money for this product and they were denied a legal avenue to do so at every turn. So, right or wrong, ethical or not, they acted upon the wantingness, the desire, created by Disney, and then removed Disney from the equation. Then they went out and gave that money to someone who would sell them some popcorn to snack on while watching the movie.
My prediction? Well, it’s not a prediction if it’s a sure thing so let me just tell you what the hell is going to happen. You can watch the incidents of piracy surrounding every Harry Potter movie skyrocket as soon as they start disappearing from the shelves. People will come to the front desk, ask for the movie, we don’t have it, they can’t buy it, so they’ll go get it from someplace that will give it to them.