Editorials: Anime DVD Pricing

I wouldn’t be saying anything new if I were to say that we want our anime DVDs cheaper.  But looking at prices right now I don’t think I can really complain.  Sure DVD sets start off at a ludicrous forty dollars, or more.  But those prices eventually drop, to the point where there is little excuse to buy them and I find it harder and harder to hang on to my bill-paying-money rather than buying incredibly cheap One Piece DVDs.

And other series are going from around twenty to thirty dollars.  Now I’m going to post some more Amazon links, tell me if you notice anything strange about them.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 1
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 2
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Part 3
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple – Season One Part One
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple – Season One Part Two
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple – Season Two Part One
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple – Season Two Part Two

If your first thought was that the first volumes of a series are more expensive, then you would be correct.  Granted this isn’t always true, but from my browsing around Amazon I have noticed that the tendency to price first volumes higher is fairly common.  On Amazon at least.  I don’t know about how the prices are in actual stores, since I haven’t set foot in a DVD shop in a while.  But I have been able to find out that places like Right Stuff tend to have all the DVDs priced about the same. So Amazon is varying prices for some reason, and not in the way that would make sense.

Not that I’m saying varying prices is bad.  If they do it to increase sales then I fully support that practice.  What makes no sense to me is the odd method of pricing the first volume higher than the following volumes.  It even goes to the point where they charge more for the first part of subsequent seasons.

If we do a little thought experiment, I’m sure you all will come to the same conclusion as I did.  Because I can almost guarantee that all of you had the same reaction I did when you considered buying any of these DVDs.

First of all, which would you rather buy?  The more expensive, or the cheaper?  If you’re a member of the Internet Generation, then you chose, “The Free One.”  But since that isn’t an option, you chose “The Cheaper One” as your second option. 

Now say you don’t own any DVDs for a given series?  Which would you buy first?  The first volume, or any other volumes?  I think it’s safe to say that you chose the first volume.

Now what if the first volume is more expensive than any of the other volumes.  Obviously you’re going to buy the cheaper ones.  But what’s the point of buying the cheaper volumes if you don’t even own the first one?

So you go back to deciding to get the first one, but even when the difference in price is little it’s just too hard to justify spending money on that first volume when all the following ones are cheaper.

If you’re anything like me you end up buying none of them.  Because there’s a big difference between spending twenty to thirty dollars for a volume when there’s one available for ten dollars.  Especially if your budget is limited.

But most of use are collectors at heart, and a collection that lacks the first piece just isn’t right.  So the DVDs continue to sit, while you wait for the prices to drop, and to get a little bit of extra spending money.  And once you do get your precious, precious money you still can’t justify spending the extra money when a cheaper option is available.  But the cheaper option isn’t the right one…

See how this devolves into a circular argument?  And notice how all throughout this internal conflict Amazon, and the DVD publishers, haven’t seen one red cent of your money.

What I don’t understand is why this persists when there is such an obvious answer.  Just price the first volumes lower, and buyers will be more tempted to buy said first volumes over the other ones.  And once they have that first volume they will be trapped.  Because all of use collector types – aka: The kind who buy anime DVDs – can’t leave a collection unfinished once it’s been started.  So not only is the cycle broken, but suddenly the customer has a reason to buy more DVDs. 

So please, Amazon, and whoever else decides these prices (I know that for books the publisher decides the price, not Amazon, so chances are the same is true here), charge less for those first volumes.  You should know that once we’ve invested ourselves in that first DVD it’s almost impossible to keep from buying the rest.

Rare Case of it Being Done Right:
Ghost Sweeper: Mikami Collection 1
Ghost Sweeper: Mikami Collection 2

One comment

  1. Aaaand Amazon has changed it's prices around. Either that was the most influential post I ever wrote, or it was a complete coincidence and my point is completely moot now.

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