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Keep It Simple StupidTwo interesting articles crossed my inbox this morning, both on seemingly different topics. The first, from today’s Toronto Star, an article that looks at the government’s coming inquiry into the high cost of airline tickets.

What’s been happening is that the extra taxes and fees in Canada have driven the price disparity between Canadian and American airports so high, people are simply driving across the border and getting their flights from the American side.

From the article:

“The Conference Board of Canada report, entitled, ‘Driven Away: Why More Canadians Are Choosing Cross Border Airports,’ examined fees at Toronto Pearson International Airport, as well as major airports in Vancouver and Montreal and their cross-border competitors.

Some price factors — such as the rise of the Canadian dollar in recent years to near parity with the U.S. currency — are beyond the control of Canada’s policymakers, the Conference Board acknowledged. But, of the five million Canadian travellers heading to the U.S. to fly, the Board estimates Canadian authorities could lure about two million of them back to airports here by adjusting Canadian airline policies.”

Then, this article about piracy, from Forbes, hit my inbox. It’s a fairly standard rant for this sort of thing: You will never stop the pirates; you shouldn’t try; if you offer the service at a good price, people will pay for it; and so on.

Then at the end comes this bit:

“The primary problem movie studios have to realize is that everything they charge for is massively overpriced. The fact that movie ticket prices keep going up is astonishing. How can they possibly think charging $10-15 per ticket for a new feature is going to increase the amount of people coming to theaters rather than renting the movie later or downloading it online for free? Rather than lower prices, they double down, saying that gimmicks like 3D and IMAX are worth adding another $5 to your ticket. They have failed to realize that people want things to be easy.”

Hallelujah! Finally, someone understands! Two someones, actually—because the airport people and the media people may not be all that different from each other. I’ve had alleged publishing executives respond to posts about e-book prices on this blog by explaining to me that books can’t cost less, but must cost more, because of legacy reasons that don’t make sense in this digital age.

I’ve had them tell me that the cost of editing is This Much (even for typo-riddled releases that look like they never had even a cursory proofread), and the cost of marketing is That Much, and the take for Amazon or Kobo or whomever is This Much, as if these were immutable facts carved in stone. But they’re not. And the bottom-line reality in today’s world economy is this: People have options. If you can’t offer them a product they want, and at a price point they can live with, they’ll go elsewhere. They’ll buy from Smashwords instead of Amazon. They’ll stream from Netflix instead of buying a DVD from Best Buy. And yes, they’ll drive to Buffalo to catch a plane to Florida.

One thing I will say for the airplane people, though: At least they’re promising to look into things. They’re pricing themselves out of the marketplace, and they realize that if they want to win their customers back, they have to lower costs. That might mean changing the way they do business. That might mean streamlining certain processes, cutting out others, or adjusting this or that to retain their profit margin and still meet their target. But they’ll do it, because if they don’t, they’ll lose business.

So, Big Media, my question is this: If the airlines can do it, can’t you do it also?

 
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