byThom Price Increases Coming

For years I've kept advertising on my site minimal, and I've kept my ebook pricing constant. Heck, when I transitioned the books from CD to download years ago, I dropped the pricing. Meanwhile, several years back and I went to an exclusive fixed price advertising agreement with B&H for the Web sites that, I hope, is useful but unobtrusive. 

Unfortunately, my costs have gone up over time (and several pending changes are looming, including a likely increase in credit card processing costs), so in order to provide equal or better service in the future, I'll need to raise some prices beginning March 30, 2022. No changes will occur in site advertising. I could start littering the sites with affiliate links, pop-ups, Google ads, sell customer and site visitor lists, and more, but I don't like that as a reader of other content, so I'm not going to do that on my sites.

As part of the price change I'll be updating a few of my policies, as well. Here's how it will work for the books starting on March 30th:

  • Older ebooks for completely discontinued cameras will be US$29.99. No further updates will likely be offered for these books; they are what they are. The F100, F5, F6, D7000, D7100, D7200, D600/D610, D750, D800/D800E, D810/D810A books fall into this category. As best I can I'll continue to answer all email questions about these cameras for book purchasers. 
  • Most books for current cameras will be US$39.99. Free updates will be provided, as they're made, including edition updates if they occur. The D5, D500, D780, D850, D7500, Z5, Z6/Z7, Z6 II/Z7 II books fall into this category. Owners of these books who paid the lower pricing in the past will still get the free updates.
  • A couple of big, intense books that require additional support will be US$49.99. This includes the upcoming Z9 and D6 books, which come with additional files, and will be updated as Nikon supplies new firmware or as I learn more about them.
  • A few books are oddities and won't be changing in price for the time being. I haven't decided what the update policies for them will be, partly because it's unclear what Nikon's plans for the first two mirrorless DX cameras are. The Z50, Zfc, J1/V1, and Sony books are examples of these books. 

Again, this new pricing will allow me to continue, and in some cases improve, my current support practices for the books. I will no longer be asking for voluntary contributions on Edition updates, for instance. I'm providing this warning of a pending price increase so you have the chance to order under the old pricing and get the benefits of the update policies in the future.

Likewise, for the last decade I haven't raised the fees I personally receive for teaching workshops. Compared to what my peers are charging as fees, I'm now in the "bargain" bin, and I don't believe that's the service level I provide. With travel and other costs I personally incur at workshops having risen considerably over the past 10 years, I'll have to adjust my fees considerably in the future. (Disclosure: I also don't accept tips, as some workshop instructors do.) For quite some time I've been the lowest-cost provider of high quality workshops in Africa and South America when you examine the per day charge and what's included for that. I don't believe I or my support team are the low service provider. Just the opposite. 

So when I announce the next few workshops—emphasis on few—I'll be adjusting my underlying fees, as well. Unfortunately, travel costs are about to go up, everywhere. So the days of my being able to provide a high quality 12 nights in Africa—a lot of workshops count travel days enroute to Africa as part of their "days"—at an average all-in cost of US$1200/night (which includes internal airfares, park fees, and much more) are over. I suspect that the new mark is going to be closer to US$1500/night when all is said and done, and that will require some tough negotiations on my part. Similar changes are occurring in the other areas I typically teach workshops at, including the Galapagos.

Unfortunately exact increases in workshop costs are difficult to predict at the moment, as we're just coming off pandemic-limited travel and a lot of places and operators are still trying to figure out what they have to charge to stay in business and are trying to be tough negotiators. Then a war came along that has the potential for further disruption. I typically have to plan the big workshops 18-24 months in advance, so getting prices locked down that far out is also getting more difficult.

Finally, a more personal note. I don't like raising prices. But things have gotten to the point where I could either stop doing some of the things I'm doing, or raise my prices to continue doing what I'm doing. Since I'm 70 years of age now, I could simply start the process towards retiring. Some version of that may still happen, as I've started exploring selling some of the older Web sites and books to others. But in terms of the things that you count on me to provide—news with commentary, current technique advice, email support, books on current cameras, best-on-the-Internet Z System coverage, and occasional workshops—I'm committed to continue that, and perhaps even do it better than before. But to do so I need to make my pricing better reflect what my real costs are.

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