It’s right around the corner. Actually, you can already hear it’s footsteps. E-magazines are coming and coming fast. From Hearst Magazines preparing its own player to the formation of biggest coalition of magazine publishers, from the upcoming Apple tablet ( maybe) to the current Kindle, publication are pro actively preparing their full digital migrations. It’s not a fad but a survival issue.
Already the New York Times and the WSJ are available on the Kindle for a subscription. They will all use images. If the web traffic is any reference, photogrpahy is one main reason for traffic. So how are you going to price them ?
Will you be happy to license your image by file size ? Good luck. The digital version of these magazine will need much smaller size than print magazine, thus allowing them to feed themselves on your lower priced content.
Will you apply the pathetic rates currently applied for online usage. From $5 to $40, that will certainly not help your bottom line, unless if you want to reach it very fast.
Will you do a subscription deal a la Getty? Unlimited use for a flat fee. Good luck here too. As digital takes much less space and has a more rapid turnaround, they will have used most of your library for a miserable flat fee in less than a year.
Finally, will you continue to let them tear away all the IPTC information that you so painstakingly added to every single one of your files
So, what is the solution ? Well, for once, unlike with the web publication, you should have a strategy, and a very clear one. You should not react to people coming to you saying” It’s new, we don’t know if its going to work, we have no budget ” and let them have your pictures for a -low fee. Why ? because as it might not currently look like it now but for editorial, those E- magazine will become your main source of income in the next coming five years. And if you let them, they will put you out of business.
So, before you accept crappy prices because you think that “any sale is better than no sales” mentality or that you get lured into this “oh, but it is great publicity” trap, think about how what you agree to now will affect you in five years
One solution is to continue to price your images related to circulation. It is much easier to track circulation online or on a E device than on print. If they start with a low subscription, the license fee can be low. And as their circulations rises, your licensing prices should too. That is simple enough, no ? You share their effort and grow with them. Since your images are partly responsible for their growth success, its only fair.
Don’t wait for your useless trade association to help you with this as they apparently couldn’t care less. None of them have come out with any recommendation nor analysis. They just want you to pay your fees and collect sponsorship money.
Talk to each other : use Facebook, Twitter, or the phone. Do not agree on pricing, because that is completely illegal. But agree on licensing models that make sense. Organise meetings, discuss, challenge each other. Ask your agency what they plan to do and how they plan to face this new pricing challenge. Make them think.
It would be nice, for once, to see this industry to be creative and pro active. Don’t you think ?