Warner Begins Selling On Demand DVDs Direct to Customers
March 24, 2009

Yesterday was the debut of the Warner Archive, an online store where customers can buy made-on-demand DVDs of lesser-known movies.

Warner Archive screen shot

150 titles are available taken from pre-1986 MGM, RKO Radio Pictures, and Warner Bros. Pictures films, with about 20 more titles added every month. DVDs are priced at $19.95 each for US customers only.

[U]pon purchase, a state-of-the-art manufacturing on demand (MOD) system creates a made-to-order DVD indistinguishable in quality from a standard pressed DVD. The system places the DVD into a hard plastic Amaray case featuring custom artwork; shrink wraps it; and ships the finished package to the customer which arrives in approximately five days. The cost per title is $19.95, plus shipping. Alternatively, movie fans can purchase digital downloads of these classic films to enjoy immediately on their PC. The cost for a digital download is $14.95 per title.

That’s not an impulse-purchase price, but for those looking for these movies, this service is a godsend. Go through the owner for a professional product instead of ebay for a second-generation version of something taped off TV. Warners is also asking for customer input on which titles they’d like to see next.

If this service is successful, it’s the realization of many trends, including the long tail, where the internet makes it possible for customers of smaller-demand products to find and buy what they’re looking for, as well as elimination of the middleman, since the studio is selling direct instead of shipping these products through stores.

Can you imagine if Warner did this for DC comics? Any title available printed on demand for, let’s say, $9.95?

10 Responses  
Jer writes:  

Can you imagine if Warner did this for DC comics? Any title available printed on demand for, let’s say, $9.95?

If you mean any single issue for $10 printed on demand, then I don’t think the service would fly. $10 for one issue is such a high price that while I think some folks would use it for certain things. Trying to get ahold of a reprint of certain Golden Age or Silver Age books that don’t get put in collections but are hard to come by, for example. I doubt the niche would be large enough to sustain the infrastructure.

If you mean any of their out-of-print collections printed on demand – I think that would be a great idea. But I think the price would be much higher than $10 – probably closer to $20 or maybe more. Depending on the page count. But it is something I’d love to see – I think we may finally reach a point in my lifetime where there’s no such thing as an “out of print” book of any kind – prose, poetry, textbook, reference work or graphic novel, and I’d love to see that.

Chris G. writes:  

A large comics publisher could make the price dependent on how much you want printed — maybe $5 for a single issue, $10 for a collection of four to six issues, and so on to whatever the maximum feasible number of pages in a volume would be. They could also add bells and whistles for paper stocks, formats, customizable covers, etc.

Johanna writes:  

I purposely picked a high price. After all, $20 for a bare-bones DVD in low demand is 2-4 times the regular price. If I’d pay $4 for a regular comic, a print-on-demand one might be $8-12. POD pricing is usually higher than I’d like for comparable works, based on the webcomic collections I’ve seen.

Jeff writes:  

I have been asking and waiting and hoping for a service like this for years. I think the studio is going to end up making more money this way off of a title like “The Devil Is a Sissy” than they would if they mass-produced it and threw it on store shelves for 10 bucks. In fact, I’ve never heard of “The Devil Is A Sissy” but I’m seriously considering ordering a copy, simply because it’s called “The Devil Is A Sissy”

As for comics-on-demand, I think DC could do well by printing complete storylines on-demand, especially storylines that are out of print or have never been collected. Single issues, maybe not so much.

Alan Coil writes:  

There’s a reason some of these titles are not available. (Perhaps many reasons.) In most cases, if it is not available as a vhs tape or a dvd, it is because it isn’t very good.

And $20 is way too high a price for old movies. I just today saw an ad for Twilight at $17. If fresh, in-demand movies go for $17, old trash should go for much less.

Johanna writes:  

If it isn’t available, it might suck (although given how much stuff that sucks IS available, I’m not sure that’s true) or it might just be that not enough people want it. Supply/demand curve, and all that.

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