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RE: The Commercialization of Web Accessibility


From: Susan
Date: Dec 19, 2001 11:21AM

The question is finding a balance. Charging enough to cover your own
costs and hopefully make a little profit but not enough to put off
prospective customers. This is why my market research includes the
question how much would you be willing to pay for something like this.
If you put off prospective customers not only do you lose out from the
loss of a sale the people who would have benefited from your product
will not benefit. In other words, it involves basic economics with its
supply and demand curves and consideration of things like elasticity,
ideas that I thought I left behind after doing economics at school.

Unfortunately there are so many middle men (and women) who want to take
a slice of the income that you make from your product. This is true for
books as publishers need to make a living as well as the author. With
web sites this can be a pretty big slice as I realised when I looked
into how much it would cost me to set up a means of getting paid from a
web site.

Another way of finding a balance is what you put in a book to sell and
what you put in various articles. I can think of 2 cookery writers one
who repeats the recipes in her book in article after article in various
places and one who takes much more care what she allows to be reproduced
on web sites and in magazine articles so that she does not use all the
contents of her book. People buy the book from the first one and realise
that they have already read most of it and feel cheated. Those who buy
the book after reading the tasters from the second author find lots of
new material so her readers feel that they have got value for money from
their purchase. Of course this applies to authors in every field. This
is something that everyone who produces material in a number of formats
has to be aware of.

If I wrote a book on accessibility,
I might sell some copies and that would be a good thing. However,
if I created a free web site and PDF with the same content, more
people would get it. But I would have less motive to do this,
because it would be, effectively, money out of my own pocket.
I have friend who has a publishing deal at the moment for a book that
she has worked on for 6 years on and off. She has been asking just about
everyone she knows to preorder a copy from her because she has to buy
the first 1000 copies herself and therefore find a rather large sum of
money for the publisher in a few weeks time. The idea being that these
folks will pay for it in advance so she has the money to give the
publisher. If all these books sell she will make a profit but until then
she has to store them. Hearing this I am not sure that publishing a
proper book is that good a money-making idea.

And thus the businessman is in necessary conflict with the
activist. Businessmen want to monetize accessibility because,
as they see it, they can make money out of it _and_ by making
money they can guarantee the availability and maintenance of
the resource, and even develop further resources. The activist
looks primarily at the good that's done for people in need, and
sometimes has to make compromises for practicality's sake,
recognizing that content won't get created if it means too much
personal sacrifice.
Again it's balance. I don't want to make my fortune from providing
information that people need whatever it is (I have a second household
based project on the go as well and even a third idea on the back
burner.) I would like to cover my costs and have a little leftover to
save up to replace hardware and software as necessary as without this
little could be achieved. I don't have a home to pay for as my husband's
salary pays for those bills. OK a fair days pay for a fair days work
would be nice but what would I do with the money if I got it. I cannot
think of anything I need that money can buy. OK there are a few wants
most of those I can live without if I did not have the money. Therefore
it would be frittered away on unnecessary things and no one would get
very much benefit.