Quote: The trouble with a computer wide search is that you are burning time and clock cycles looking through an index of every file on your computer. A specific PDF index is blazing fast and specific to my philatelic library.
Not only that, but with Adobe's index function, you can have multiple hierarchies of index simply by using multiple .pdx files.
I can selectively search the entire collection by using AllCatalogs.pdx, all Scott catalogs by using ScottCatalogs.pdx, all Michel catalogs by using MichelCatalogs.pdx, a particular catalog year of either Scott or Michel by using the year-dated .pdx file, or searching within each individual catalog volume file.
So depending on how aware I am of where the information is located, I can eliminate extranesous search results by choosing which index files I use for a given search.
This new Scott catalogue seems very overpriced – and even at that high price, it has to be renewed annually. That's not going to work.
I'll subscribe to an online catalog if (a) it it's a reasonable price, and especially (b) if I can subscribe only to countries I'm interested in. For me, that would be maybe 25-30 countries, a not inconsiderable number of subscriptions. I only occasionally look at stamps of all the other countries, so for all of the rest of the world, I only need an older paper catalogue. My current Scott catalogues are five years old, and they're just fine.
This new catalogue they're now offering seems a product of the way Scott has always viewed things in an old-fashioned way. Maybe small-town Ohio isn't conducive to innovative thinking?
For example, Scott's old-fashioned catalogue organization system remains based on alphabetical order instead of regions. To get all the countries I collect, I have to buy every single volume of the catalogue. Consequently, I buy catalogues very rarely, and those I buy are used. If I could buy just the countries I collect, I'd buy those catalogue pages far more often.
And I do. I now buy the latest Scott catalogue pages on eBay for each country I collect. The pages are torn out of the current catalog and sold for around $5-10 for each country. I add a cover and staple them together. They're extremely easy to use that way, much easier to handle compared to large catalogue volumes. I upgrade these every few years. Why can't Scott do this? Probably because they're used to their old system and haven't thought of it.
My favorite example of Scott being wedded to old habits has always been their basic catalogue organizing system which they adopted back in the late 19th century. Back then, Scott began organizing stamps into separate categories, regular stamps, semi-postals, airmails, and so on. Some of these made sense. After all, official stamps and postage dues aren't "postage stamps". But regular, airmail, and semi-postal stamps are all used for the same purpose. Yet they remain separated. I can use any of these stamps to mail a letter, so why aren't they all "postage stamps"? This even has the unfortunate effect of separating stamps that were issued as a set. If a set contains a few airmails, those have to be mounted separately even though they have the same subject matter and same design. It's a poor approach. One benefit of the old Minkus catalogue was that it kept these stamps together. In the Minkus way of thinking, all stamps from any year were kept together rather than in separate sections. All stamps in a set, no matter their purpose, were mounted together -- as a set -- on one album page. Not Scott, though. Scott can't change this now, but it's an example of how a 19th century decision, right or wrong, still guides their thinking despite its producing strange organizational effects.
Scott holds onto other old habits that it could change. Scott/Amos does not sell a complete set of their International Album pages organized from A-Z. It only sells pages organized by time periods. Volume I of their International Album covers 1840-1940 and must be purchased separately from all the other volumes – but now, even it is only offered as four separate "volumes". If you want your International Album with each country's pages together from beginning to end from, say, 1840-1975 (as I did) rather than mounted in a dozen or more different volumes (which seems bizarre), you're going to have to reorganize thousands of pages yourself. I did that, and it took a few weeks. I imagine Scott does this because they've always done it this way. To collect the world from 1840-1975, you need to purchase at least 10 volumes of their pages and collate all of them alphabetically yourself. You'll need a very large space (try the floor), a lot of time, and some patience. Surely, with modern technologies there must be a way to sell pages alphabetically instead of only by separate decade or year? Why not make this an option? Scott began with its chronological page system in the 19th century and has never done it any other way.
Do Scott's new digital pages function in any way as a checklist for collectors? I don't think they do. It would be useful if there were a way to mark up a digital catalogue to use when buying stamps at home or at a stamp show. I've made my own (40 page) want list for different countries. Why couldn't highlighting the stamps I need be done with an online catalogue? And if I could mark each stamp I own, why couldn't the catalogue total the value of an entire country for me? This feature might prove helpful in selling a collection. Added value like these features takes it from an ordinary catalogue to something much more useful and would help justify the annual subscription fee.
To me, Scott seems backwards-looking, doing most things the way it's always done them. Offering a digital annual catalogue subscription that few collectors will want to purchase isn't a giant leap forward. Like most collectors, I'll keep buying older paper catalogues maybe every decade or so. I do use them. For my most countries I collect, I'll keep buying separate catalogue pages on eBay. If Scott would sell me a catalogue subscription for separate countries, I might subscribe. I don't mind paying for an annual subscription but it has to be for pages I use, at a reasonable cost -- and it would be nice if it had other features built into it that I would benefit from. Otherwise, there's little chance I'd subscribe to this expensive catalogue every year.
If Scott were open to suggestions, I would propose that the Classic Specialized 1840-1940 be expanded to take the coverage through the 1950's or to a sensible point that makes a clean break from "modern" material. They take BC material through 1952 right now in the Classic. That may not solve everyone's issues, but it would placate a lot of collectors that focus on the Classic era into perhaps mid-century modern. The digital Classic Specialized standalone subscription is a more reasonable $125/annum.
If a WW collector is focusing on the whole enchilada from first to new issues they can pop for the entire set. I think that those folks are a minority from the collections that I see sold.
Finally, if you are a collector of a single Country, as am I, or a dozen Countries, what do you need all the rest of the stuff for. Pictures? Cookie cutter catalog values? I use Scott for Russia but rely on Michel and Zagorsky just as much if not more and both of their sequential/chronological numbering systems for all issues make much more sense. (See Drew's excellent comments for context)
I personally believe that Scott is not betting on selling a whole lot of complete volume 1-6 subscriptions but rather many sales of single volumes. Which brings us full circle to why not sell by Country or region? It would produce more revenue. Take volume 6 as an example. It has information for over 100 Countries. Sell each Country for say $5.99/annum. Serbia may not get as many takers as Switzerland but in the end, you would pull in more revenue than trying to peddle a volume of 100 Countries most of which a user may not need or want at $100 per copy.
Quote: Sell each Country for say $5.99/annum. Serbia may not get as many takers as Switzerland but in the end, you would pull in more revenue than trying to peddle a volume of 100 Countries most of which a user may not need or want at $100 per copy.
It doesn't even need to be that flat rate. Pro-rate the cost by the number of catalog pages in the print version per country, so that people getting access to more content pay more.
The problem with any of this is the scale that Amos is using is too draconian. They think that everything has to equate to print pricing across the board without exception or they might lose a penny somewhere along the way... meanwhile they're hemorraging dollars in lost opportunity cost.
The problem here is that Amos isn't even competitive compared to similar products offered by Michel and Yvert.
Michel Online annual subscription which gives you access for one year to every volume of the standard Michel Catalogues (Deutschland, Europa and Ubersee) updated through the year as new volumes are updated - € 162.62/yr (~US$180\yr) https://www.briefmarken.de/michelsh...dard-version
Scott Online gives you access only to latest catalogues for one year only. Not clear if you get access to newest edition if they are released during the course of your subscription, but likely not. Set of six standard volumes US$549/year (~€500/year), access to US Specialized (US$110/yr) or 1840-1940 Classic Specialized (US$125/yr) is extra.
Gibbons - no subscription models, just buy once and have access forever (or at least as long as the company exists) though for reasons that I still do not understand the SOTW volumes are not part of their digital library, only the regional catalogues - one would think they would be forefront in the options to compete with Michel, Yvert and Scott.
Somebody in Amos did not take a course in marketing, otherwise they would have been sure that their product is competitive price-wise with competing products. It's not like Scott has a complete monopoly on worldwide stamp catalogues. Completely myopic move by Amos and I am just glad I got my Scott digital catalogues in late 2020 so I have the complete set of 2021s including the Classic Specialized and will always have access to them.
Like I said I'd pay US$200/year for the full Scott catalogue line digital (including Classic Specialized and US Specialized) in a subscription model with new volumes added in during the year as they were released (as Yvert and Michel do, and I have subscriptions to both Yvert and Michel), but no way in hell would I pay US$650/year for the complete standard set and the Classic Specialized.
And of course pricing the way Scott is planning for its digital subscription is going to be a boon for current online stamp catalogues such as Stampworld and the catalogue that I am involved with, especially with novice collectors who are just beginning to dip their toes into the hobby and are looking for information on the stamps they have and stamps they want. A US$550/year pricepoint is simply going to lock out a large number of newer/intermediate collectors who are tech savvy but on limited incomes.
Quote: Maybe small-town Ohio isn't conducive to innovative thinking?
As a transplanted Upstate New Yorker who has lived in Columbus OH for almost three decades, I can safely say that there is more than a grain of truth in the quote above, even in not-so-small town Ohio.
Does not matter where they are based, folks have been posting opinions and ideas for moving publishing into the digital age for decades. We have had this discussion many times before, going back at least 10 years, including in forums where Amos editors hang out. This is not rocket science, it is about fear of risk. Often the default company behavior is to do what you did last week. It is safe, 'if it worked once it will work again'. This way of thinking is common all across philately and not just the publishing segment. Don
I assume Amos would price it as high as they can...the printed price less the cost of printing. This has always been their approach. It is an easier decision to reduce price.
As someone said, I also consider the printed price high and the big issue for me is that it is organized alphabetically rather than a better grouping that reduces the need to buy a lot of catalogs. One often needs multiple catalogs to cover the entire era for a country (colony, occupation, independence, etc.)
I am sure it would cost a significant amount of manpower (impacts revenue) to convert the entire setup to a database so maybe this is part of the first step. The database could be as slow as amosadvantage.
My catalog need is identification for more than value. I do not need regular updates since I do not collect new issues and values do not change much.
I would want a one time purchase for something I can keep and continue to use - printed or digital. If I get updated catalogs they will be several years old but that market may be drying up as sales drop and libraries stop carrying.
My guess Amos's revenue continues to drop and they have a golden goose they want to extract as much as possible to support the business without giving away the farm (catalog systems gets out of their control). For most customers, they do not consider Michel direct competition since US dealers and collectors favor Scott. If dealers change, Amos will change.
For Microsoft Office, I get the one time license rather than the subscription. Adobe did the same thing to Lightroom but they did release a classic edition for one time purchase.
Quote: It doesn't even need to be that flat rate. Pro-rate the cost by the number of catalog pages in the print version per country, so that people getting access to more content pay more.
Exactly. There are a million ways to market their data more effectively than they are. An Ala Carte menu would make so much more sense and attract lots of collectors and more casual/curious users. I would rather sell a million widgets at $10 than 5,000 widgets at $500.
You could have pro-rated purchases as you stated. You could have package deals, multi-country discounts, area packages, renewal discounts, add-ins, levels. Heck, you could offer the digital to hard copy purchasers at a special additional fee.
The data is the commodity and they really don't know how to monetize it properly. There rigid and limited offerings are shutting out purchasers by setting ridiculous price points to access data that is not needed by the majority.
There seems to be a fair amount of misunderstanding about software subscription model (aka server-based software) in our hobby. In another forum, a person posted that software subscription was the new way to do things. The software subscription model has been around for at least 25 years. I think that Oracle was one of the first big companies to move to it and Adobe made news when it adopted this model in the early 1990s. Adobe saw a LOT of push back when it tried to move to subscription model but it pressed forward for one primary reason; they poured a lot of money into improving their software each year. As opposed to a single, one-time monetization opportunity of a significant $900+ purchase of Photoshop, they opted for pitching subscriptions. The annual new versions improved features, filters, and functionality greatly helped them sell software subscription model. Today Adobe is primarily a subscription only company, they have moved away from selling any single user, perpetual license apps. (But there is still a very active market for Photoshop 7, the last single license standalone application. I run this app even through it is old as a rock and it can still be found in the marketplace.)
It is true that more companies are moving to software subscription model today, currently it is estimated that about 50% of all applications sales are currently subscriptions modelled. In many ways it is far easier to support (which is always very large amount of software cost). Consider trying to implement a new version of your software. If you have thousands of users with the older standalone version in the field, implementing a new revision can be a nightmare. This is especially true if your software has a security issue (like a operating system). But of course, a stamp catalog app is nowhere near the security risk of an operating system. In my professional life I liked served-based applications, they made my life much easier. But as a software user, I dislike them; at work I supported and enjoyed the benefits of this model but at home I always sought out and used my own personal copy of applications.
So I can understand why a company would consider software subscription model, it can be a significant support time and cost saver. If a company is going this route only because they fear piracy, they are dreaming. As I mentioned, anyone can easily do screen captures of each catalog page and compile their own PDF. But if support time and cost savings are the upside, what are the downsides? First, subscription models require intensive and focused marketing because there is an ongoing, never-ending need to keep users signed up. And no one ever accused Amos of being marketing geniuses. You have to get out and beat the bushes 24/7/365 to get folks to sign up and then chased them around to keep them signed up. Having a high price point (like they have set) only makes this even more difficult since many users will skip years due to the cost.
Another significant issue is the need to manage the subscriptions. After a few years you end up with staggered subscriptions durations, trial periods being converted to longer term subscriptions, and a heavy mix of various subscription rates. And of course the company needs to be able to track and analyze this cornucopia account types. It takes a lot of experienced tech people to keep it under control.
Lastly, another downside is that the company needs to be very well versed in managing online payment methods. It is not as easy as simply throwing a PayPal on the webpage. Over time payment methods changes as do interstate and international tax laws; this can be a real challenge even for tech-centric companies.
I hope Amos can make the transition to digital but from my chair I am not holding my breath. Don
It would be interesting to know how many they planned to sell and how many they do sell. When Scott switched to catalogs listed alphabetically they were clearly focused on their production efficiency not the customer. I see this move as the same if you can no longer get just the countries you want. This tells me the think they cannot get the same revenue from an a la carte product.
It is all about revenue. I saw subscription models as a way to get steady income but not sure it will work in stamp collecting.
For example, prior to the PC era, IBM leased their systems including software (a subscription model) that generated steady income. Over time sales shifted to more one time purchases (drop in main frame sales) and income became more erratic. We had the cloud back then with the ubiquitous green screen 80x25 VM terminals.
What about a reduced price if I only want to see country information up to 1970?
And, what would happen if most countries stopped issuing stamps? Many legitimate issues today make the Arabian peninsula issues look very appealing. I doubt Scott could continue an annual catalog release so that us another drop in steady revenue.