554 RANDOM THOUGHTS 63
May 2, 2003
Stock Boston Changes Strategy
Stock Boston is moving aggressively to get a full searchable database online so
buyers can do their own research. In the meantime they have "suspended custom
in-house research while we work on this project." Stock Boston has no plans to
re-introduce the kind of file research they offered in the past. In future
picture buyers will be required to do their own research, and the only images
available to them are those in the online database.
As they develop this database they have told photo buyers that "you can call on
us for specific individual images or high res scans."
Stock Boston is one of the leading specialist agencies servicing the textbook
market with the unique type of imagery it requires.
Because these buyers are usually looking for very specific subject matter on a
very broad range of topics, rather than the more generic images that often
satisfy the needs of many commercial customers, agencies like Stock Boston have
tended to maintain very large files of analog images and to research those files
based on customer requests.
Given the recent trends in usage price reductions by the major textbook
publishers (industry sources indicate that some of the major suppliers are
offering world rights for textbook usages for as low as $145), Stock Boston has
been forced to move quickly to reduce overhead. In effect this means eliminating
the traditional, costly and very labor-intensive file research.
Stock Boston has asked also placed a temporary moratorium on new submissions from
contributors until they get their new site operational and said we "will contact
you when we're ready for your freshest, newest work."
Educational Publishing Statistics
The Association of American Publishers reports that U.S. book sales totaled
$26,874,100,000 in 2002 and this was a 5.5% increase over 2001. However, the
picture was not as rosy for the educational publishers who are the big user of
Elementary and high school sales were down 5% to $4.07 billion. University press
sales dropped 3.8% with sales of $392.6 million.
Higher education sales were up 8.5% to $3.9 billion and sales of professional and
scholarly books were up 8.5% to $5.14 billion.
A significant portion of the education sales was for electronic materials. That
started to become apparent during the 98-99 school year. The annual expenditures
to publishers for technology have been relative stable since then, but the
expenditures for printed materials has been dropping.
Given the deficit situations that most states are in one of the major ways to cut
costs is to delay textbook purchases. Increased use of the internet helps offset
the need for new textbooks and 96% of the K-12 teachers reporting that they use
the internet in teaching.
RF Trends - Who's Using What?
Is the market for stock images growing? Are people buying more images? Getty's
figures for the first quarter of 2003 reveal some interesting trends. (See Story
551 .) While Getty's
revenue was up 14.5% compared with Q1 of 2002, the same was
not true when we look at the number of images licensed.
On the RM side there was a 14% rise in revenue year-to-year, but only a little
over 1% rise in the number of images used. It is certainly great that revenue is
up (due to increased average price per image (ppi) used, but in the long run what
the business needs to grow is more people buying more images. Granted it was a
difficult year. Many projects were cancelled and all advertising buyers are being
more cautious with their investments for promotion. Considering the environment
flat use may be a good thing. Hopefully, when the economy finally turns around
buyers will purchase more images - and at today's higher prices.
But what about Royalty Free? In a bad economy people are supposed to use more RF
than RM because it's cheaper. Someone forgot to tell Getty's customers how they
are supposed to act.
The average price per single RF image sold rose 43% between Q1 2002 and Q1 2003,
and the gross revenue rose about 23% during the period.
But, the number of single RF images licensed DROPPED approximately 13.5%. Disc
sales remained stable for the period at about 20% of gross revenue. Figures for
the other quarters indicate a fairly steady decline in the number of images used
throughout the year. If there is a decline in usage of RF images at Getty - the
RF leader by an overwhelming margin - what's happening at the other RF suppliers?
This decline is all the more remarkable because during the period Getty started
marketing Digital Vision's content on gettyimages.com and they were available for
nine of the 12 months. This imagery is very high quality and priced higher than
most of the other RF imagery on Getty's site. It might be expected that the
availability of a lot more quality imagery would lead to increased volumes. It
didn't. On the other hand DV's imagery sold well and sources indicate it
represented in excess of 20% of Getty's RF revenue for the year. An obvious
question: What happened to the rest of Getty's content? Is the presence of DV
content cannibalizing sales of PhotoDisc images?
If the number of images licensed are actually dropping, but producers are
required to continually come up with more and better content just to maintain
their level of sales and stay even, will this begin to cut into the profits of
the RF producers?
The major issue for photographers moving to digital creation of images is not the
cost of equipment, but developing new workflow procedures to manage the image
files they create.
Seth Resnick has made available a very detailed report that provides the
step-by-step process he uses for the images he creates. He also outlines the fees
he charges assignment clients for providing certain digital services. This
information is a very useful guide for anyone moving into digital creation of
You can find this document by going to
and clicking on "Digital Workflow PDF." The cost of this document is $9.95.
Seminar for Agencies in London
Paul Henning has teamed up with the not-for-profit UK organization The Image
Network to offer a day seminar in London on June 3 to help libraries market their
Henning is an old hand in the business ‚ on both sides of the Atlantic, ran his
own agency, Third Coast, and was Manager of European Operations for Comstock
before setting up his consultancy Stock Answers in 1999.
The seminar is aimed at businesses wanting to market their images and - in the
age of the image super-store - will focus in particular on the issues faced by
the small or medium agency and photographer-run business. Paul Henning has a
positive message for picture libraries. "Even in tough economic times, somebody
somewhere is still buying stock imagery -- quite a lot of it, in fact! Why
shouldn¼t they get it from you?"
The seminar is part of a series of events for industry professionals run by The
Image Network, part of The University of Westminster. The aim is to draw on
industry experience and provide focused events and training to help people do
their jobs effectively. Program Director, Sarah Saunders from the consultancy
Electric Lane explains.
" We started this initiative because we noticed a massive loss of confidence with
the change to digital. People in photography, picture research, picture
libraries, design and pre-press were dealing with a new situation requiring at
least a basic knowledge of digital imaging and a lot more communication between
sectors. The knowledge has to come from within the industry, but it
also has to be well communicated and based on situations faced in the working
day. The Image Network is a unique and ideal learning environment as it is not
sector-specific and is non-commercial."
For more information go to the Image Network site at
www.theimagenetwork.co.uk or contact Sarah Saunders at: firstname.lastname@example.org.