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Stamp market commentary

Commentary No. 48 - 17 June, 2003

The New 2004 Scott Catalogue - It's Very Expensive!

The 2004 Scott catalogue, volume 2 is now available in stores and on the Internet. It includes the latest prices for the stamps of Canada and its provinces. The advertised price for the CD catalogue on the Amos website is $42.99 US but when it is ordered, the amount charged is $49.99, plus $10.00 for mailing for a total of $59.99 US. When converted, this produces a total cost of $82 cdn.

It is interesting to compare this price with the catalogue's cost in prior years. As reported a year ago in our Commentary No.33, the price for Scott's Canadian catalogue on CD was $62.70 cdn. The year before that the catalogue cost $64.00 cdn. This means the price of the catalogue has risen 28% over the past two years.

While the total cost of $59.99 US translates into $82 today's conversion rate, it would have totaled $94 cdn. if we had converted the amount at the exchange rate that prevailed a year ago.

The increase in the cost results from two changes. First, the price of all Scott catalogues was increased this year. Second, the publishers decided not to issue a separate diskette for Canada this year as they did a year ago. As a result, collectors must acquire the catalogue for all countries whose names begin with the letters C - F even though they may have no interest in the prices for the stamps of those countries.

We called Rousseau, the stamp dealers in Montreal to check on the local retail price. They had the catalogue ready for immediate delivery at a cost of $89 cdn, including sales taxes. Thus it could be obtained in Canada for a price that was about the same as the cost on the Internet and there would be no need to wait for it.

We ordered the 2004 catalogue from the publishers in the US on June 2nd. This was the same day we called Rousseau. The CD arrived in the mail on June 16th. We can remember thinking what a great idea Amos Publishing had a year ago when it first made a separate Canadian diskette catalogue available over the Internet. First one could obtain the catalogue much earlier than the local retail version. Second the price was cheaper. Finally, collectors could order just the Canadian section of the catalogue if that's all they wanted. None of these advantages exist any longer.

How many collectors in Canada can afford paying $80 to $90 for a catalogue these days? Does this mean that young people and retired people on limited budgets have effectively been barred from owning a catalogue? What can the publishers have been thinking?

Fortunately, people adapt quickly to their circumstances. We expect that in future, fewer people will order the catalogue on the Internet. Fewer people will buy from their local stamp dealers. Instead they will obtain copies of the pages of the catalogue they want from their local clubs or libraries. Groups will join together to share the cost and the availability.

We believe the publishers may have made a regrettable mistake in raising the price beyond the reach of the average collector and in stopping the practice of having a separate diskette for Canada. All the advantages of distributing information inexpensively over the Internet have been lost. The publisher's customers, being intelligent people, will adapt to the challenge. Hopefully the publishers will come back next year with a more sensible plan for pricing and distributing its catalogues.

In our next commentary, we plan to review and analyze the changes in the 2004 catalogue.

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©2003, Canadian Stamp Auctions Ltd., Montréal, Québec, Canada