Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quick updates on Sheryl and Paul

Pipa, as seen in previous posts, is still sick. We think she's getting better, but it is a bit hard to tell.
We almost took her to the vet again today, but then she appeared to be better. Now I'm not sure. We're doing a lot of energy healing work, hand feeding her an essentially liquid diet and giving her a lot of love. She's taking the liquids without gagging now and we don't have to force her to eat.

I got notice from a friend that a mutual aquaintence has died. Her name is Kathleen Flowers, a poet and a kindergarden teacher. I did not know her well but she had an influence on me, as it is clear she was one of those highly influential people through her quiet presence, her kind smile and her talent. It was a shock to me to hear of her death, as Sheryl and I had just seen her at a poetry reading in Santa Cruz before we left. She seemed fine, looked beautiful and happy, and we had no idea that she'd been struggling with a rare form of cancer for 4 years. She was only 44. I'm 45-- make's ya think: cherish your life, every day.

On a much more trivial note, we just heard that Cafepress, our print-on-demand company which does our order fullfillment for our art/photography is instituting an extreme change in policy. The long and short of it-- most shopkeepers estimate that they will lose about 70% of their usual income, while the profits for Cafepress (per item sold) will go way up. The announcement was just made today and already a huge number of artists/designers are stating that they will pull their designs, close those shops and go with other print providers such as Zazzle. We're currently making our own plans-- we don't make much money per printed item as it is, and we definetly do not sell a lot of volume through cafepress so it's kind of a no brainer for us to switch to a better provider like Zazzle. For others, the news is pretty dire: people who have built up their entire income over years of concerted effort are absolutely devastated. One of the more successful ones stated earnings of $50,000 per year expects it to drop to about $7000. This strikes me as a plausible estimate.

Others who make much less money are the handicapped, stay at home mothers and fathers, retired veterans etc. and where they might have made a dollar on an item they'll now get perhaps thirty cents. Where they might have made fifteen bucks or more on a framed print, they'll now get maybe three or four bucks-- we're not talking huge profits for the vast majority of cafepress designers ( I think they number in the millions) but in some cases it means a monthly grocery bill, a car payment or a mortgage payment. It's just greed on the part of Cafepress, but I don't think they'll be so happy about the decision if all their best designers/artists pull out at once-- and the funny part is that they have now motivated the best-selling designers (who have a lot more dollars to lose) to jump ship immediately and go with their competitors first.

Who wants to support a printing company with no respect for artists and designers? Sheryl and I recently voluntarily lowered prices on a bunch of our art in response to the sluggish economy-- figuring if we make it more affordable we might sell more. So far the results are kind of inconclusive, our stuff wasn't all that expensive anyway. Near as we can tell though, the plan from Cafepress is to both raise prices, AND give less to the artist. Wow, screw the customer and the artists at the same time. I'm oversimplifying slightly-- but the trend over the past few years has been obvious: it's all about a printing company trying to put the squeeze on: more volume, higher prices, lower commisions for the designer; as if the t-shirts, greeting cards, posters and framed prints will sell no matter what material is printed on them. I don't think so.

Anyway we still retain our own retail pricing for the time being and it's as reasonable as we can make it, but come May 31st, I think other print on demand companies are going to experiencing a huge increase in new business, and of course there are other alternatives to P.O.D. I'm betting that the exodus has already begun.

Here is a more detailed analysis; click here.

1 comment:

Marianne Dow said...

Cafepress has made a huge miscalculation! Their marketplace will see far fewer quality designs once all the outraged shopkeepers have defected to Zazzle, thus decreasing cafepress sales and decreasing buyer satisfaction.

I hope there is enough backlash from this that they change their minds. It is an awful business decision. They must be reading from eBay's playbook.

Thanks for your post. I love that Zazzle made ''Welcome Cafepress Shopkeepers'' t-shirts so quickly.

--Marianne Dow