Erudite Expressions (Prints)

Announcing: Pay-as-You-Wish for Prints

I’ve been reading some success stories about pay-as-you-wish pricing schemes (such as “What the Bagel Man Saw”, available as a PDF here, an interesting “no cash register” approach at a bakery in a Canadian city, and an awesome success story of a coffee store in Seattle; all those stories have been linked in the freakonomics blog, which I read daily).

So, the big announcement: I’ve decided to try out this business model for purchasing prints on my photoblog, Erudite Expressions. And so, à la Radiohead, you’ll be able to pay whatever you want for an 8″x12″ metallic print which you may order from my photoblog, Erudite Expressions. For now, this will be an experiment I am trying out. Consequently, this pay-as-you-wish offer will be valid only from Thursday, October 16, 2008 to Sunday, October 20, 2008 (with a possibility for an extension, depending on how things turn out). Additionally, the offer will be valid to the first twenty customers which place their order in the three days this promotion is running. Once the three days are up or the first twenty customers have purchased a print (whichever comes first), the promotion will terminate and I’ll re-implement my regular pricing structure for prints.

I’ve come up with an FAQ which will hopefully answer all your questions:

Q: What’s pay-as-you-wish pricing?
A: It means what it says, basically. You pay whatever you think the product is worth to you. You can pay as much as you can afford. You can pay as much as you want. You can pay (almost) nothing if you want. It’s your choice.

Q: What’s does the offer entail?
A: The offer is for one 8″x12″ metallic print. The metallic print has a glossy finish; if you hold the print under the light, it appears as though you’re holding a thin sheet of metal due to the way the print reflects the light. The images are printed in a professional lab; all the prints are printed on a Kodak Endura professional paper, which offers natural looking flesh tones, sharp details, and beautifully saturated colors. Also, the really cool thing: the paper on which the image is printed will be resistant to tearing! (I’ve tried tearing one of my 4″x6″ prints, and I couldn’t do it – the finish is very strong!). Click here to see an example of how the 8″x12″ prints look like when they are printed.

Q: Who is eligible for this offer?
A: If you live in any of the fifty states of the U.S.A. (and also District of Columbia), you are eligible to order a print. Only one order per customer and (home) address (i.e. I am imposing a restriction to send only one print to the same home address; for instance, it wouldn’t be fair if a large family (with different names, thus technically corresponding to different customers) in Utah ordered ten or more prints to the same address).

Q: Which images are eligible for this offer?
A: There are two basic limitations. First, only those images which have the PURCHASE link enabled (at the bottom of the image) are available for sale. The images that don’t have the purchase option are not on sale for various reasons (small resolution, noisy image, etc.) The second limitation is that the image size should have an aspect ratio correspond to 8″x12″ print – namely a 3:2 or 1.5:1 aspect ratio. Most of my images are presented in 3:2 aspect ratio (i.e. the images have dimensions of 800×533 pixels, 900×600 pixels, or 467×700 pixels). There are many ways to check the dimensions of an image. I’ve covered a simple way to check the dimensions of an image in a previous entry. If you are running Mozilla Firefox as your internet browser, you can just right click on the relevant image, click on properties, and you’ll see the dimensions of the image in the dialog box.

Q: What is the suggested price I should pay?
A: There is no suggested price. You can pay as little or as much as you wish. That’s the whole point of this promotion.

Q: But isn’t there a rough guide how much we should pay if we have no clue?
A: Well, if you insist. For your consideration: the regular price that I charge for a metallic 8″x12″ print shipped and delivered to your door is $35. When I was running my two-year anniversary promotion, the price for one 8″x12″ metallic print was $10.

Q: All right, I want to order a print. How do I order?
A: I’ve implemented an online payment system that is very easy to use. The only requirement is that you need to have a paypal account (if you don’t have a paypal account, you can get one for free if you have a credit card). To order a print: click the PURCHASE link (found at the bottom of the image whose print you want to buy) which is enabled for those prints which are available for purchase. Below is an image of an entry dated July 19, 2008 titled “old door” for which I’ve highlighted the PURCHASE option:

illustration of where the purchase option is located for photoblog entries

The purchase option is highlighted

After you click the PURCHASE link, you’ll see a dialog box that has a radio button with “pay-as-you-wish 12″x8″ metallic print @ 0.00 US Dollars” as the only option. Click submit.  You’ll be taken to the paypal page which should look similar to the image shown below:

paypal order form; unit price can be adjusted to name your own price

Paypal order form (in this case, for the "old door" image seen above); Unit Price can be adjusted to name your own price

From here, you can choose how much you want to pay for the print. By entering an amount into the “Unit Price” dialog box (as seen above), you’ll be able to select the price you want to pay for the metallic 8″x12″ print once you click the “Update Totals” box. Since you are ordering one print, the “Quantity” will be locked at 1, and the total amount will be updated in USD once you click the “Update Totals.” Important note: Paypal won’t let you get away with leaving the “Unit Price” at $0.00, so if you want to get the print for free, your best available option is to change the “Unit Price” to $0.01 or something like that. Below, I’ve created a price of $20.08 (reflecting the current year; you can be creative in dollar amounts) to pay for a print:

A print to be purchased for $20.08

Q: Can’t you potentially lose a lot of money running this promotion?
A: Yes, it is possible. That’s why I’ve implemented a cap on twenty customers. I’ve also set aside around $200 to fund this project. In other words, if everyone chooses to get a print for free (hopefully that won’t happen, but that’s the extreme scenario), I’ll use the $200 I set aside to print and ship the prints.

Q: So why take the risk? Why not implement a “minimum” price, such as $10?
A: If one is going to implement the pay-as-you-wish pricing structure, it goes against the principle to set a minimum price (I don’t consider the one cent minimum as a true minimum, but rather an unavoidable technicality that paypal requires). Also, I know a few people that wanted to order prints from my photoblog, but for whatever reason haven’t done so (this is their chance!). My regular print prices are quite affordable, but I wanted to give people the choice of owning one of my prints if they thought my regular print prices have been the limiting factor from them deciding to buy a print.

Q: Who benefits from this pricing scheme?
A: I hope I benefit and the customer benefits. I envision the mutual benefit because the customer has a beautiful print which he or she can then frame in their apartment or home (which will make me happy). Also, I don’t think some people realize the quality of the prints which they will receive. By allowing the customer to name their own price, it allows them to receive the print basically risk-free. Finally, I am a huge advocate that images are meant to be seen on paper rather than on the computer screen (the prints are printed at 300 dots per inch whereas your computer monitor most likely displays only 72 dots per inch). Even the largest monitors on the market today, whose native resolution is 2560×1600 pixels, would compress the full-resolution images (4368×2920 pixels) of my Canon 5D by a factor of more than two and a half on their screens. The point is this: images are meant to be seen printed.

Q: Will you use my personal data in any way?
A: Of course not! I am using the paypal structure because it allows the easiest way for customers to input their price and address to which I ship the prints to. I don’t sell or otherwise use any of your contact information.

Q: Are you a verified paypal seller?
A: Yes.

Q: Will you release statistics about who ordered which prints and at what-price?
A: By participating in this promotion, I might disclose information regarding your order in an aggregate manner; I will never disclose personal information regarding your order. In other words, I may publish what the average or median price for a print turned out to be. I won’t ever use your name or any identifying information with regard to your order. So, for instance, if there are two customers who chose to get the print for a penny, I might cite that “Two persons ordered the print for one cent” but I will never disclose names and any other personal information behind these purchases.

Q: How will I know if I am one of the first twenty customers to submit an order?
A: I will be monitoring the promotion closely. As soon as the twentieth customer has sent in their order, I will shut down the pay-as-you-wish purchase option. Basically, if you’re able to put in the order through, it means you should be set on receiving the print (barring a totally unprecedented event in which my photoblog gets thousands of hits and hundreds of customers trying to order a print in a very short amount of time – a highly unlikely event).

Q: Are there particular kind of images which would look great on a metallic print?
A: Any sort of image (landscapes, portraits, etc.) can look amazing when printed with a metallic finish. However, from my experience, any of the images in my HDR gallery would look especially striking when printed with a metallic finish.

Q: Can I tell my friends about this promotion?
Of course.

Q: I wasn’t able to get my hands on this promotion. Will you run something like this promotion in the future?
A: I am not sure. It depends on the success of this promotion. Best way to find out is to subscribe to this blog, in which I will make all major announcements regarding prints.

Q: I still have more questions! Can you answer them?
A: Sure, either post a comment to this blog entry or send me an e-mail to elbelbelb2000[at]gmail[dot]com.


October 15, 2008 Posted by | prints | , , , | Leave a comment