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Vendors at homeschool conventions


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#1 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 08:23 AM

I hope that this doesn't go down a road of discussing a specific situation concerning one convention and one speaker/vendor, because I thought there might be another aspect to think about.

I emailed a few vendors that were listed as coming to Cincinnati. I wanted them to know that I was looking forward to the vendor hall and going through all the options on homeschool materials.

Our background is that we've been outside the Continental US for all of our active homeschooling, until a couple months ago. We either had no conventions or only the small one that was in Hawaii (held at a largish church).

Several of the vendors have written me back. A couple of the comments struck me as notable.

One vendor said that while they had intended to come, he and his wife were in their seventies and they had realized that driving to four conferences in thirty days was beyone their physical capabilities. (He said that they would be providing the same free shipping that would have been offered at the conference, because they just had to cut back on their driving.)

Another vendor mentioned that they had been attending the conferences for several years but had seen that they lost money nearly every year. (I assume once they subtracted lodging, transportation and any vendor fee.) FWIW, this vendor sells books that are probably attractive to the same customers who are now considering not coming. So the kerfluffle will have a big impact on his customer base.

Finally, there was a comment on one of the convention's FB updates, that basically accused them of being in it only for profit and not giving anything back to the homeschool community. This struck me as rather uncharitable. (FWIW, my dh and I think that national defense is important enough to have devoted our adult lives to military service - but we still depend on the paycheck to pay our rent and buy our groceries. You can be devoted to something and still want it to be worth the time and effort that you put into it.)


I wrote a bunch more about this on my blog. But it boils down to this question. Do we as homeschoolers have a realistic idea of what is involved in producing materials for homeschoolers to use. A company like Peace Hill Press isn't likely to get thousand book orders from a big school system the way that major text book producers do. Some of the margins are incredibly small. But we seem to be (as a collective) quick to jump on a company about their customer service or delivery times or the cost of a year's worth of materials. Are we being short sighted by focusing too much on bargains and not enough on something that might be the publishing equivalent of sustainable growth.

In the ten or so years that I've been involved in homeschooling, the number of offerings to consider has exploded. I wonder if ten years from now I will look back wistfully at the golden age when there were so many programs and books to choose from.

#2 mommaduck

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 08:45 AM

Good point!

#3 merry gardens

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 08:52 AM

... But it boils down to this question. Do we as homeschoolers have a realistic idea of what is involved in producing materials for homeschoolers to use. A company like Peace Hill Press isn't likely to get thousand book orders from a big school system the way that major text book producers do. Some of the margins are incredibly small. But we seem to be (as a collective) quick to jump on a company about their customer service or delivery times or the cost of a year's worth of materials. Are we being short sighted by focusing too much on bargains and not enough on something that might be the publishing equivalent of sustainable growth.

In the ten or so years that I've been involved in homeschooling, the number of offerings to consider has exploded. I wonder if ten years from now I will look back wistfully at the golden age when there were so many programs and books to choose from.

Those are questions worth considering. The question applies to homeschool bookstores too.

A homeschool store where I used to get a lot of materials (online) had problems with delivering one particular book to me last year, so this year I ordered from other sources. The homeschool store really could have provided better customer service, but I have also benefitted a lot from their customer service in the past simply by seeing the selection of materials they offer. I should give them another chance when I place my book orders this year.

#4 Mrs Mungo

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 08:55 AM

BUT, on the other hand, there are more mediums than every by which to put out product. I think PHP is actually doing a great job. They have videos, downloadable lectures and audio books, downloadable student pages, etc. You can now make your books available via nook and/or kindle. People who are *really* good (like brainpop, which also deals with schools) have apps for phones.

I think we will see *more* content available, but I do agree that companies that do not keep up with the times may fall by the wayside.

#5 Halftime Hope

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 08:56 AM

But we seem to be (as a collective) quick to jump on a company about their customer service or delivery times or the cost of a year's worth of materials. Are we being short sighted by focusing too much on bargains and not enough on something that might be the publishing equivalent of sustainable growth.


I consider it part of my job to find bargains since I stay at home and do not bring in a wage-- IOW, part of *my* job is to find ways to stretch the bucks my dh earns. But never, ever at the expense of a small business owner.

That said, I had a good friend who was a "general store" book vendor to the hs community. It was not an easy life, and the margins were very small. She bought out a local homeschool publisher, even though she knew it, too, would generate very little profit, b/c she wanted to keep those materials available to the HSing community. She finally retired from the book business b/c the margin was not enough to raise a family on, and the toll (travel, sitting at conventions agood portion of the year, lugging heavy boxes of books, children bored out of their minds at hotels) was too high for the family.

The thing that pushed her over the edge, though, was having too many customers come to her, at conventions and at her home, take her time getting reviews, suggestions, and tailored recommendations, only to have the customer walk on w/o buying, then order from C*D or Amazon to save a buck or two.

sad insight, isn't it...

#6 Sarah CB

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:02 AM

People who are *really* good (like brainpop, which also deals with schools) have apps for phones.


I want WTM apps! And Homeschool Tracker.

#7 Mrs Mungo

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:04 AM

I want WTM apps! And Homeschool Tracker.


I would LOVE a Homeschool Tracker app! ESPECIALLY if it could sync between my phone and dd's phone. It would make my life so much easier.

#8 patchfire

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:04 AM

I think we will see *more* content available, but I do agree that companies that do not keep up with the times may fall by the wayside.


I absolutely agree here.

I consider it part of my job to find bargains since I stay at home and do not bring in a wage-- IOW, part of *my* job is to find ways to stretch the bucks my dh earns. But never, ever at the expense of a small business owner.


I had a friend ask me why I would buy my curriculum for next year at the convention last weekend; specifically, why I would get PHP items (at 10 or 15% off, mind you) versus their price on amazon.

My answer was longer, but it boiled down to: Because I can. Because I try very hard to save money on books where I'm not buying them from the publisher directly, because we prioritize some expenses over others, then I can turn around and buy products directly from small publishers and small businesses, so that they will get more profit than they would from an amazon sell, or similar situation.

I've watched all the locally-owned bookstores disappear from my county in the last ten years. There was a time when we had much less money, and I bought fewer books. If I could go back in time, I would have bought even fewer, and bought them there. I don't want to see the same thing happen with other small, independent stores and publishers.

#9 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:06 AM

The thing that pushed her over the edge, though, was having too many customers come to her, at conventions and at her home, take her time getting reviews, suggestions, and tailored recommendations, only to have the customer walk on w/o buying, then order from C*D or Amazon to save a buck or two.

sad insight, isn't it...


And to be honest, I'm guilty of that too. I certainly did it with Sonlight one year. But that was partly because I already owned over half of the core books.

I am thinking that Amazon may already get enough of my money with the regular books that I get through them and the large number of Christmas and birthday presents we purchase through them.

I'm not much of a buy organic, buy local foods sort of person. But I am rethinking the consequences of my purchasing habits on the whole homeschool materials system.

#10 Samiam

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:08 AM

But such is life in all retail business, not just the homeschool vendor world. The fact is, the retail industry is a difficult to survive in. You have to have a complete trifecta: Great product, great pricing and great service.

Lose one of those, and you are apt to lose business.

Most small business people become successful, financially, not because of a huge mark up on the individual product, but because of selling mass quantities of the product (penny profits will eventually add up.). Those who try to do it by having a huge mark-up just lost their "great pricing" part of the trifecta.

As a consumer and customer, I have the right to choose which of those three of the trifecta are most important to me, or even all three. I do that for everything I purchase, a car, clothing, so why would I not have the right to expect that when I purchase HSing curriculum?

The thing is, a business person would know that a convention is not usually a money-making venture in and of itself. It is a marketing campaign, a way to get your product to the masses, with the end result being more purchases, either there or in the future. The more people who know about your product and can see it, the more people who will consider and hopefully purchase it. For small businesses, and publishers, this is an amazing way to get their product out to their customer base. In 3-4 days, you may have just shown your product to a 1,000 potential customers.

In the end, businesses will fail. Some curriculums will no longer be offered, and new curriculum will take it's place. That is the way of life. As a homeschooler, I do not feel it my duty to support a business, ie homeschool publisher, store, etc, if they do not suit my needs, which are great pricing, great product AND great service. I have NOT purchased a product that looks amazing because of their horrible service (WinterPromise), just as we do NOT go to a local restuarant because of their overall rude attitudes offered by the waitress and manager.

#11 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:10 AM

I want WTM apps! And Homeschool Tracker.


What would a WTM app look like? The book recommendations from the AG so I could have them when I'm in a bookstore or library? A list of biographical figures or historical figures for each level/period? (Oh, wait? What about an internet linked AG? Or does this exist already?)



I know that I love the audio book versions of SOTW. I put them on my iPod and my son soaks them up. (In fact I think they are so good that I bought a second copy of the Vol 2 CDs for my son to listen to when the kids were staying with my m/fil while we did house hunting. My other copy was in storage and I didn't want him to miss out.)

#12 KnitWit

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:11 AM

This is an excellent post, Sebastian.

My dh and I used to work homeschool conferences as *reps* for a company. It was shocking to me all the costs involved for the company. They pay for e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. And, when a conference says that a speaker has been *invited*, we need to realized that often, with the smaller companies, they have been invited to *pay a fee to hold a workshop*. Now, I have no clue about GHC and people like SWB, I am speaking of the smaller conferences from several years ago.

It has *been* several years since we did this because the company no longer sends reps to very many conferences because after paying the conference fee, booth fee, workshop fee, comping *us* for our food and gas (and a stipend if we had to spend the night), AND paying to ship TONS of books to us...they began to *lose* money because people would come to the conference to LOOK and TOUCH the books, but then order online from Amazon or Rainbow Resource or another company that might discount.

I can completely understand the vendor that said they were losing money and I have been reading the same comments you have and I felt it in my GUT for these other vendors. I have NO DOUBT that GHC is not cheap, because *they* have to rent these huge facilities, therefore, I would guess booth rent alone *has* to be sizable.

I am very disheartened by the call to boycott these conventions. It is going to shoot homeschoolers in the foot because if these vendors take a loss this year, and in this economy, I can almost promise you that NEXT year's convention will be back to all the BIG publishing houses and many of these smaller vendors will not be there...again. I say this, because some of the ones we have kept up with were *giving it a try* this year, to see if more regional conferences, drawing larger and more diverse crowds, might pull a big enough profit to make it worth it. And for some of them...to keep them in business *period*.

Just more thoughts.

#13 Sarah CB

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:13 AM

What would a WTM app look like? The book recommendations from the AG so I could have them when I'm in a bookstore or library? A list of biographical figures or historical figures for each level/period? (Oh, wait? What about an internet linked AG? Or does this exist already?)



I know that I love the audio book versions of SOTW. I put them on my iPod and my son soaks them up. (In fact I think they are so good that I bought a second copy of the Vol 2 CDs for my son to listen to when the kids were staying with my m/fil while we did house hunting. My other copy was in storage and I didn't want him to miss out.)


Yes! Could you imagine having all of the books at your fingertips while you're in the library? I think having the lists of people would be a huge asset, too. It could also have all of the memory work suggestions. If it could incorporate homeschool planning (short and long-term) that would be pretty cool.

#14 Sarah CB

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:15 AM

I would LOVE a Homeschool Tracker app! ESPECIALLY if it could sync between my phone and dd's phone. It would make my life so much easier.


Or if it allowed you to randomly add assignments during the day and dd's phone would get an alert every time a new one was added - that would just be fun :)

#15 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:40 AM

Oh, I wasn't suggesting that there wasn't a right to make your purchases where you thought was best. I think that the invisible hand of capitalism is a great force. I just want to mention it as a possible consideration. I personally have a tendency to consider price alone.

But I am also in a position to pay to support more products and continuing customer service. (I guess a parallel would be paying more for a Five Guys burger than a trip to McDonalds. But you have a point. I'm not going to blindly support someone just because they are homeschoolers, if they aren't offering something worth my time and money.)

#16 JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:41 AM

There are plenty economic factors that would potentially make it cost ineffective for a small vendor to attend a large or expensive convention. Those are beyond a convention manager or even the vendor to control these days. Plenty of businesses that work on the model of a large convention to sell are having trouble-for example antique shows.

However, for those who manage conventions it is an economic matter. They can't change our national economy but it also doesn't make economic sense to have their vendors and speakers beating each other up. If that sort of situation continues then no vendor will want to attend for fear of being on the wrong side of a larger more powerful vendor and what the consequences may be for their reputation or finances. The end result is that convention attendance will be dictated by the sway a few large vendors have in intimidating other vendors. A convention manager cannot allow this to happen if they want a broad attendance from both vendors and attendees. Of course the net result of all this would, IMHO, be harmful for homeschooling in general.

This type of infighting among homeschoolers depresses me and it may be what ends up contributing to the downfall of the homeschooling movement and the legality of homeschooling. I realize that is an alarmist statement but I worry that this is one of the possible end results.

On another note:
I would just like to see Homeschool Tracker for the Mac. Please! Apps would be such a bonus!

#17 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 09:44 AM

Hoping that this won't veer us off topic...

I did find it interesting that some of the commenters on FB viewed the Cincinanati conference as a welcome Christian conference in opposition to the perceived overwhelming number of non Christian conferences. I found that intriguing since I'd seen other people on this board who found it refreshing that the conference was trying to be open to more than one orthodoxy. Funny how subjective our interpretations can be.

#18 ScoutTN

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:01 AM

I've never been to a convention, but I do try to walk a middle line on buying materials.

We are very tight on money, but I do try to buy curriculum and resource books like TWTM from the author/publisher or from my local family-owned bookstore. I know that their margins are often small and I appreciate how much they contribute to my world. Since I have only one child doing formal school right now, the total $ difference is not that big.

RAs or other literature books come from the library, used book sales or the thrift store. Or gifts from grandparents! Books from large publishing houses I am happy to get used or on Amazon.

#19 Mrs Mungo

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:02 AM

The thing is, a business person would know that a convention is not usually a money-making venture in and of itself. It is a marketing campaign, a way to get your product to the masses, with the end result being more purchases, either there or in the future. The more people who know about your product and can see it, the more people who will consider and hopefully purchase it. For small businesses, and publishers, this is an amazing way to get their product out to their customer base. In 3-4 days, you may have just shown your product to a 1,000 potential customers.


Excellent point. You also get the word-of-mouth thing working for you. I bought a couple of items that I'm sure I will be telling people about. I bought student planners from Queen Homeschool Supplies. Most of their books are items I already own or are not of particular interest to me. BUT, if people ask where I got my awesome planners or if I use a planner for the kids, I will tell them and *they* might buy other stuff. The other thing was the Albert's Insomnia card game. It's a fun way to practice thinking skills and math facts.

What would a WTM app look like? The book recommendations from the AG so I could have them when I'm in a bookstore or library? A list of biographical figures or historical figures for each level/period? (Oh, wait? What about an internet linked AG? Or does this exist already?)


My dream WTM app would have:

1. A simple schedule/checklist for which you could plug in the days you do particular subjects and check them off (for multiple children and if the child has a phone it can sync with the child's phone).

2. Lists of historical figures/science topics for each time period. Book recommendations for each grade would be a bonus, especially if it had a checklist so that I could check them off if I already owned them.

Or if it allowed you to randomly add assignments during the day and dd's phone would get an alert every time a new one was added - that would just be fun :)


:lol:

Hoping that this won't veer us off topic...

I did find it interesting that some of the commenters on FB viewed the Cincinanati conference as a welcome Christian conference in opposition to the perceived overwhelming number of non Christian conferences. I found that intriguing since I'd seen other people on this board who found it refreshing that the conference was trying to be open to more than one orthodoxy. Funny how subjective our interpretations can be.


What non-Christian homeschool conferences are out there? I honestly don't know of any, I'm curious.

#20 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:10 AM

What non-Christian homeschool conferences are out there? I honestly don't know of any, I'm curious.


Well, I think that this one in VA is, but I haven't been so I'm guessing. But, yes, that was sort of why the comment made me chuckle. Though it did give me some insight into the kerfluffle. (But that's enough said about that.)

I think that there has to be a strong sense of mission to be willing to put together any kind of a conference. I know that even the tiny one our little homeschool group did in Japan was a lot of work and organization. And that was just for a show and tell and a panel discussion in a party room.

I can't imagine the amount of work that it takes to put on something with thousands of attendees and hundreds of vendors.

#21 OhElizabeth

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:25 AM

...
One vendor said that while they had intended to come, he and his wife were in their seventies and they had realized that driving to four conferences in thirty days was beyone their physical capabilities. (He said that they would be providing the same free shipping that would have been offered at the conference, because they just had to cut back on their driving.)

Another vendor mentioned that they had been attending the conferences for several years but had seen that they lost money nearly every year. (I assume once they subtracted lodging, transportation and any vendor fee.) FWIW, this vendor sells books that are probably attractive to the same customers who are now considering not coming. So the kerfluffle will have a big impact on his customer base.

Finally, there was a comment on one of the convention's FB updates, that basically accused them of being in it only for profit and not giving anything back to the homeschool community. This struck me as rather uncharitable.


It's not that GHC is "basically" for profit. They ARE for profit. On the up-side, it's why they put on whiz-bang conventions. It's totally professional, with no volunteer organizers walking around falling apart and looking half-dead, and with a lot of sensitivity to the market (not stuck in para-church mode or one person's particular, niched ideology). On the downside, they're so sensitive to the market, which wants low admission rates, that they have high booth rates. I haven't compared them recently, but it's all publicly available info to sort through and compare for yourself. Yes it costs a lot of money for vendors to come, and yes I'm certain many do it at a loss. Not just some but many. They just have to sell too much of their niched product to turn a profit.

Our state convention got DECIMATED with the coming of the Cincy convention, and that's putting it politely. They have moved and worked to redefine themselves and rebuild, which I hope they're successful at. I'm guessing in 2 years the same thing will have happened in the other states where GHC is going in. You could argue it both ways. (The state conventions weren't meeting the perceived need, the market is driving it, long live capitalism OR people should work within the existing state structure.) HSLDA is now pointing out that when people skip the state conventions, it means the state support group is losing its revenue base, either from profits or memberships it drove. Then you have the issue of who is doing the political watchdogging that is necessary.

BTW, things still haven't filtered out for that boycott/cancelation issue the vendor was worried about. I think some of the people who are offended by how the KH thing was handled are still coming (to patronize the vendor hall, to attend some sessions) but will spend part of the time at whatever KH/AIG organizes. I don't think the conclusion (cancel, attend with protest, whatever) has necessarily been homogenous, although there is a LOT more unhappiness with the way things were handled than a count of the posts on this particular board would make you realize. This board might be *our* world, but it doesn't encompass everyone who attends.

#22 Sophia

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:30 AM

What non-Christian homeschool conferences are out there? I honestly don't know of any, I'm curious.


Here's one.

I know I've heard of others but can't think of them offhand.

#23 Susan C.

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:34 AM

I am almost finished homeschooling, so I will only go to a small local fair (maybe). I have gone to large fairs in the past, but had to drive several hours, pay hotel costs, plus cost to attend the convention. I am halfway between two very large conventions, and the deciding factor was cost. One was close to $100 to just get in the door, so I never attended that one. The other had a vendor hall only cost that was affordable, and the year my dh was out of work, they reduced it for us. I have never paid the fee to attend seminars, and haven't attended one in all of the years, haven't except for one last summer that I didn't have to pay for and was curious about. I prefer to go to the tables and ask my questions one on one. (And you can get to the tables easier during the workshops!).

I think vendors are shortsighted to think if they didn't make a profit that they shouldn't come back. Here is why. The earlier in the year the fair is, the less people buy. My large fairs were in May, some years I wasn't even finished with the current year. I went to look and buy later because usually I hadn't decided what I was using yet. I know others who do that as well. So it is partly an advertising cost for vendors. Being in a smaller town, it was my only chance to look at the books, there was no store nearby with them. Our local fair is end May or beginning June (the large one was 3rd weekend of May). I about trip over myself getting used books ready, writing vendors to bring things I want to see, and finishing my school year. So I look, and then go home to think. I have a very hard time thinking in the convention hall. Too much noise and too many people!

So with these conventions (3 out of 4) being in March, I would expect low sales, but also, expect increasing interest in their products.

#24 Mrs Mungo

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:37 AM

Our state convention got DECIMATED with the coming of the Cincy convention, and that's putting it politely. They have moved and worked to redefine themselves and rebuild, which I hope they're successful at. I'm guessing in 2 years the same thing will have happened in the other states where GHC is going in. You could argue it both ways. (The state conventions weren't meeting the perceived need, the market is driving it, long live capitalism OR people should work within the existing state structure.) HSLDA is now pointing out that when people skip the state conventions, it means the state support group is losing its revenue base, either from profits or memberships it drove. Then you have the issue of who is doing the political watchdogging that is necessary.


I paid for the curriculum fair at my state's (NC) convention in the past. However, they had NO speakers or workshops that I was interested in seeing. I suggested SWB on my form every year, but Susan said she has never been invited by them. If they aren't interested in meeting my needs/wants/desires then why should I care about continuing to support them?

Here are some examples of their 2010 workshop titles:
Fixing Our Eyes on Homeschooling Jesus (what does this even mean?!)

The Ways of the Wizards vs. the Ways of the Wisemen (we love fantasy books and don't need someone else telling us they are bad)

A Passion for Books and Building a Home Library (yeah, like I need that, I'd be better off if they had a "how to build bookshelves" workshop)

Meal Planning 101

and so forth.

On the other hand, the small convention in Hawaii did have interesting and engaging speakers, even when I didn't agree with everything they said.

I don't think the conclusion (cancel, attend with protest, whatever) has necessarily been homogenous, although there is a LOT more unhappiness with the way things were handled than a count of the posts on this particular board would make you realize. This board might be *our* world, but it doesn't encompass everyone who attends.

And maybe the people who are unhappy will go back to supporting their local, more niche conferences. Maybe it will encourage people who had not considered conventions before to give them a try.

Edited by Mrs Mungo, 24 March 2011 - 10:39 AM.


#25 Susan C.

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:39 AM

Our state convention got DECIMATED with the coming of the Cincy convention, and that's putting it politely. They have moved and worked to redefine themselves and rebuild, which I hope they're successful at. I'm guessing in 2 years the same thing will have happened in the other states where GHC is going in. You could argue it both ways. (The state conventions weren't meeting the perceived need, the market is driving it, long live capitalism OR people should work within the existing state structure.) HSLDA is now pointing out that when people skip the state conventions, it means the state support group is losing its revenue base, either from profits or memberships it drove. Then you have the issue of who is doing the political watchdogging that is necessary.


They could have their fair near the end of summer when people are buying. A lot of people wait until the school year is about to start.... then they scurry to buy everything last minute.

#26 OhElizabeth

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:39 AM

I think vendors are shortsighted to think if they didn't make a profit that they shouldn't come back. Here is why. The earlier in the year the fair is, the less people buy. My large fairs were in May, some years I wasn't even finished with the current year. I went to look and buy later because usually I hadn't decided what I was using yet. I know others who do that as well. So it is partly an advertising cost for vendors. Being in a smaller town, it was my only chance to look at the books, there was no store nearby with them. Our local fair is end May or beginning June (the large one was 3rd weekend of May). I about trip over myself getting used books ready, writing vendors to bring things I want to see, and finishing my school year. So I look, and then go home to think. I have a very hard time thinking in the convention hall. Too much noise and too many people!

So with these conventions (3 out of 4) being in March, I would expect low sales, but also, expect increasing interest in their products.


None of this is correct about the GHC conventions. The first year of the Cincy convention, when it was quite early in the year (Feb? March? I forget, but it was early) a particular vendor I know of sold *3 times* as much, with 1/3 of the people in attendance compared to what they did at the state convention later that year in June. It's not timing. It's whether you have people coming in who are coming to BUY. The economy is hard, so even people who might normally buy probably aren't or aren't buying as much. And as the convention attendees diversify, you're getting more niche products, people who might have been interested in you end up missing your booth because it's just such a big place, etc. With high booth prices and niche markets, no some of these people really are operating at a loss.

Some of the vendors go in with the attitude that it takes several years to build a base, and they stick it out. Others can't afford to. Do we really think Gene Moutoux, who came selling his amazing diagramming stuff, turned a profit last year? Nope, he paid for the privilege of letting us see his stunning materials. He's niched and the market is so diverse he didn't sell a lot.

Edited by OhElizabeth, 24 March 2011 - 10:41 AM.


#27 Mrs Mungo

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:40 AM

Here's one.

I know I've heard of others but can't think of them offhand.


Hm, this is why we need the Classical/Festivus/whatever conference. I'm not interested in a conference focused on unschooling either. I guess part of the problem is that homeschoolers are divided into a lot of distinct groups.

#28 Susan C.

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:41 AM

I paid for the curriculum fair at my state's (NC) convention in the past. However, they had NO speakers or workshops that I was interested in seeing. I suggested SWB on my form every year, but Susan said she has never been invited by them. If they aren't interested in meeting my needs/wants/desires then why should I care about continuing to support them?


Yep, I scoured all 200 booths, and thought there had to be more....

#29 WIS0320

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:43 AM

Do we as homeschoolers have a realistic idea of what is involved in producing materials for homeschoolers to use. A company like Peace Hill Press isn't likely to get thousand book orders from a big school system the way that major text book producers do. Some of the margins are incredibly small. But we seem to be (as a collective) quick to jump on a company about their customer service or delivery times or the cost of a year's worth of materials. Are we being short sighted by focusing too much on bargains and not enough on something that might be the publishing equivalent of sustainable growth.


I viewed the samples of Math Mammoth and think it is unbelievable how inexpensive the curriculum is, even considering you have to print it yourself, because of the obvious amount of time and preparation that went into developing and writing the curriculum.

I wonder if some curriculum writers broke down the hours they worked on their product(s) and how much it has profited them since it has been published what their hourly wage would be and at what point they would finally hit earning minimum wage.

#30 ColoradoMom

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 10:51 AM

HSLDA is now pointing out that when people skip the state conventions, it means the state support group is losing its revenue base, either from profits or memberships it drove. Then you have the issue of who is doing the political watchdogging that is necessary.


I'd actually LOVE to be a vendor at my state convention since it's right down the road - but unfortunately I am not Christian enough and must sign a declaration of faith. Here's the thing that really ticks me off - I can either lie and say yeah I believe all that stuff, or not go because I have a few disagreements on what they feel I should believe.

So I stay home.

I've been a homeschooler in Colorado for 10 years and I've never joined a group or gone to a convention because of this and you know what? It's their loss. I spend thousands of dollars on stuff every year and if they don't want my money, someone else does.

I do enjoy my HSLDA membership and I will continue to be a member, but honestly I wish HSDLA would point out that not welcoming those who don't subscribe to your very narrow particular belief system is what is hurting them, not those of us who decide to purchase elsewhere.

And as far as Amazon goes, hey - if they put it on Amazon they know they won't make any money. It's the trade-off for massive exposure and sales. You make squat. If you don't want your product discounted like that - then don't sell it on Amazon.

I always go to Amazon first because I have premium membership and get free 2-day shipping. I pay $80 a year for that - so it only makes sense to buy from them when I have a need.

OTOH - I LOVE to use PayPal and since Amazon doesn't take PayPal I will also search out smaller stores that will take my PayPal money before I actually make a decision.

So - it all evens out. :001_smile:

#31 z2_mom

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 11:05 AM

I would LOVE a Homeschool Tracker app! ESPECIALLY if it could sync between my phone and dd's phone. It would make my life so much easier.



I would love this!!! I need this. Google calendar that I can sink with my phone, dh's phone, dd's phone and the home computer has been a lifesaver!!! Oh' the things that I could do with a tracker app!!!

Lynda

#32 FriedClams

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 11:12 AM

Do we as homeschoolers have a realistic idea of what is involved in producing materials for homeschoolers to use.


No, I don't think we do. I think we see paper as $0.04 a copy at Kinkos. I'm a photographer and people really have a hard time seeing $40 for a 5x7 when you can buy a 5x7 at Walmart for $1. It's not the paper - it's the creation that went into it - but that's hard to get into people's heads.

I try to be wise with our money, but I also like to support small business. If I can buy it somewhere other than amazon or christian book - at a reasonable price - then I will. If it's 25% more than amazon and I have to pay shipping, then I won't. I can't justify it.

That being said, I have waited to buy a lot of next year's curriculum materials so I can buy them at our state's HS conference in May. I know vendor attendance at the smaller conferences is dependent on making sales - so I want to support them for supporting us. I'll buy my math, LA, reading, science and most of my history stuff at the conference. I would buy it all there if I could, but since it's small there will be things I just can't find there. I did buy some of those when I went to Memphis because I knew there was NO WAY I'd get it here.

I also think in a few years there will be a lot of changes in the HS world. Some businesses will make it, other won't. Great ones will prosper.That's just business. I'm the opposite of you though - I kind of reminisce about the days when shopping took a fraction of the time because you only had 2 shirt colors in 2 styles to choose from - not 10,000.

#33 radiobrain

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 11:13 AM

Well, I plan on making it a point to buy more things directly from vendors than I had planned, to help with the potential backlash of this whole 'kerfuffle'.

I can buy Zaccaro's books a few dollars cheaper on Amazon, but I will buy them from him. Same with MCT, and heck.. Queen HS.

I intend to purchase a few random things from as many different vendors as possible. Can I afford to do this? No. But, I appreciate all the vendors being there...

BTW... is it my imagination, or are the GHConventions the only ones that are not on either extreme of HSing? Not "Statement of Faith" signing or Unschool only? There are so many of us in the middle, and so many who while being on either end can still be mature adults.

State HS conventions? Since when do states sponsor homeschool conventions?

Edited by radiobrain, 24 March 2011 - 11:18 AM.


#34 FriedClams

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 11:19 AM

State HS conventions? Since when do states sponsor homeschool conventions?


They aren't "state" sponsored but rather put on by various state homeschool associations. They are privately operated and funded.

#35 Mrs Mungo

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 11:22 AM

No, I don't think we do. I think we see paper as $0.04 a copy at Kinkos. I'm a photographer and people really have a hard time seeing $40 for a 5x7 when you can buy a 5x7 at Walmart for $1. It's not the paper - it's the creation that went into it - but that's hard to get into people's heads.


I was thinking that I think $40 is a LOT for a 5x7 but I was thinking of scenic photography which is sold to lots of people v. private photography. Maybe you were talking about private photography of families and such? Because then $40 is a good deal.

#36 Mrs Mungo

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 11:25 AM

BTW... is it my imagination, or are the GHConventions the only ones that are not on either extreme of HSing? Not "Statement of Faith" signing or Unschool only? There are so many of us in the middle, and so many who while being on either end can still be mature adults.


:iagree: In the end? I think it might actually make the GHC more diverse which is great for those of us in the middle.

State HS conventions? Since when do states sponsor homeschool conventions?


As SWM said, by state people mean the conventions put on by large state-wide organizations.

#37 radiobrain

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 11:50 AM

As SWM said, by state people mean the conventions put on by large state-wide organizations.


I was joking, really. :D

I just found it amusing as I would not have called CHEO (the Ohio "state" convention that GHC crushed) a statewide convention. Very limited audience IMHO. I do not know of, or belong to, any state wide HS organization.

Those are private, as are the GHC. If you have a good business model, you will succeed, if you don't... it goes katputz. Simple supply/demand/cost/worth in action. The original convention was tiny. At a church campus. 2 small areas for vendors and speakers crammed in weird, old classrooms. Here it is a few years later, and I have to applaud them.

#38 melissel

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 11:54 AM

Well, I plan on making it a point to buy more things directly from vendors than I had planned, to help with the potential backlash of this whole 'kerfuffle'.


I am thinking this as well, even though money is tighter right now than it has ever been for us. I typically buy used as much as I possibly can, but I'm already planning just what my budget will be for Philly in June.

However, can I ask a purely practical question? From a business standpoint, what is the benefit of a business selling its own products on its own site at prices significantly higher than, say, Amazon sells them? For example (and not to pick on PHP, it's just what I could come up with quickly), PHP sells the SOTW 1 AG for $35 plus shipping. Amazon sells it for $23, and most of us will get free shipping on that by adding a filler. That amount would be enough to tip me toward Amazon. By comparison, Spelling Power is only $4 or so less on Amazon.

Wouldn't it behoove small publishers to try to decrease that difference? Maybe not necessarily via list price, but certainly with coupons, discounts, etc. The book costs the same to produce whether the publisher sells it or or Amazon sells it for them, and surely they keep more in their pockets by selling via their own site, even at a discounted price. What am I missing in this scenario?

Edited by melissel, 24 March 2011 - 11:59 AM.


#39 dmmetler

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 12:10 PM

Uh, doesn't the publisher still get money if I buy a book from Rainbow Resource or Amazon vs their website? I can understand it if you're using the booklists from a publisher (like buying the IG from Sonlight and the books from Amazon), or if you're buying used vs new, but is it really hurting the individual publishers for me to load up ONE shopping cart instead of buying from Peace Hill, Classical Academic Press, Singapore Math.com, and so on individually? Honestly, I'll often pay a dollar or two MORE on a book to buy everything from Rainbow, get free shipping, and only have to deal with one shopping cart and one charge on my credit card. But I don't want to hurt the publishers in order to have the ease of using the one-stop shopping at Rainbow, either.

I do think that most people, not just homeschoolers, don't realize the time and costs involved in making curriculum. I'm a writer/editor for a music curriculum publisher, and we are in the process of adding a LOT of materials digitally this year. There are more than a few people who have complained that they don't understand why they'd have to pay a yearly fee to access this new content when they've already purchased the curriculum. They don't get just how much time and money it's taking to make these materials available, and that it's an ongoing expense.

#40 melissel

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 12:13 PM

Uh, doesn't the publisher still get money if I buy a book from Rainbow Resource or Amazon vs their website?


Yes, but it would be a lot less, because typically the resellers pay the publishers a bulk price that's less per book than a buyer would pay on the publisher's site directly.

#41 Susan Wise Bauer

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 12:16 PM

Wouldn't it behoove small publishers to try to decrease that difference? Maybe not necessarily via list price, but certainly with coupons, discounts, etc. The book costs the same to produce whether the publisher sells it or or Amazon sells it for them, and surely they keep more in their pockets by selling via their own site, even at a discounted price. What am I missing in this scenario?


The retailers.

There's a "gentleman/lady's agreement" in publishing that publishers will not discount their books directly, because doing so puts publishers in competition with the retailers who depend on buying the books at a discount and then marking them up.

PHP makes twice as much on a book you buy directly from us as we do on a book you buy from Amazon.com. But Amazon has a much bigger reach, so we sell MORE than twice as many if we keep a good relationship with Amazon. A similar relationship exists with other retailers.

SWB

#42 Sebastian (a lady)

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 12:22 PM

Wouldn't it behoove small publishers to try to decrease that difference? Maybe not necessarily via list price, but certainly with coupons, discounts, etc. The book costs the same to produce whether the publisher sells it or or Amazon sells it for them, and surely they keep more in their pockets by selling via their own site, even at a discounted price. What am I missing in this scenario?


I think that in some cases, small publishers' books are sold barely above cost or at a loss on Amazon. The contract arrangements between publishers and Amazon is another whole hornets' nest. There was a while about a year ago when Amazon kept the listings up, but turned off the purchase new option for the entire catalog of one major publisher over a disagreement on pricing. An internet search like "amazon small publishers" will turn up some interesting results.

So I think the price difference represents a small margin vs a microscopic one.

There are a lot of ways to not make money in writing and publishing. DH wrote a specialized academic book. I think I baked him a cake when World Cat showed it in over 200 libraries. It has long since been remaindered. I think the biggest royalty check he ever got was around $30. I am pretty sure I made more from the one magazine article I sold. And I didn't have the huge research costs that he did. (Of course, he didn't write it to make a fortune. It was a piece of history that he wanted to tell.)

#43 melissel

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 12:30 PM

The retailers.

There's a "gentleman/lady's agreement" in publishing that publishers will not discount their books directly, because doing so puts publishers in competition with the retailers who depend on buying the books at a discount and then marking them up.

PHP makes twice as much on a book you buy directly from us as we do on a book you buy from Amazon.com. But Amazon has a much bigger reach, so we sell MORE than twice as many if we keep a good relationship with Amazon. A similar relationship exists with other retailers.

SWB


I think that in some cases, small publishers' books are sold barely above cost or at a loss on Amazon. The contract arrangements between publishers and Amazon is another whole hornets' nest. There was a while about a year ago when Amazon kept the listings up, but turned off the purchase new option for the entire catalog of one major publisher over a disagreement on pricing. An internet search like "amazon small publishers" will turn up some interesting results.

So I think the price difference represents a small margin vs a microscopic one.

There are a lot of ways to not make money in writing and publishing. DH wrote a specialized academic book. I think I baked him a cake when World Cat showed it in over 200 libraries. It has long since been remaindered. I think the biggest royalty check he ever got was around $30. I am pretty sure I made more from the one magazine article I sold. And I didn't have the huge research costs that he did. (Of course, he didn't write it to make a fortune. It was a piece of history that he wanted to tell.)


Ah, thank you both for that information. It's something I've always wondered!

Susan, I already own most of the SOTW books and AGs and WWE workbooks, but my student pages and tests will all be purchased from the PHP site in a few months. The downloadable e-book option is one of the best things to happen to the publishing industry!

#44 Capt_Uhura

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 12:42 PM

The retailers.

There's a "gentleman/lady's agreement" in publishing that publishers will not discount their books directly, because doing so puts publishers in competition with the retailers who depend on buying the books at a discount and then marking them up.

PHP makes twice as much on a book you buy directly from us as we do on a book you buy from Amazon.com. But Amazon has a much bigger reach, so we sell MORE than twice as many if we keep a good relationship with Amazon. A similar relationship exists with other retailers.

SWB


Thank you Susan for clarifying that! I was also curious about the relationship w/ Amazon for publishers.

#45 Mom2boys

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 01:04 PM

Well, I plan on making it a point to buy more things directly from vendors than I had planned, to help with the potential backlash of this whole 'kerfuffle'.

I can buy Zaccaro's books a few dollars cheaper on Amazon, but I will buy them from him. Same with MCT, and heck.. Queen HS.

I intend to purchase a few random things from as many different vendors as possible. Can I afford to do this? No. But, I appreciate all the vendors being there...

BTW... is it my imagination, or are the GHConventions the only ones that are not on either extreme of HSing? Not "Statement of Faith" signing or Unschool only? There are so many of us in the middle, and so many who while being on either end can still be mature adults.


:iagree:
I'm working hard to make some final curriculum decisions for next year, so that I can purchase as much as possible at the convention next week.

#46 Susan Wise Bauer

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 01:05 PM

Ours is probably different from other small publishers because W. W. Norton serves as our distributor. They deal with Amazon on our behalf, so we get the same terms Norton does.

SWB

#47 Penelope

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 02:49 PM

The thing is, a business person would know that a convention is not usually a money-making venture in and of itself. It is a marketing campaign, a way to get your product to the masses, with the end result being more purchases, either there or in the future. The more people who know about your product and can see it, the more people who will consider and hopefully purchase it. For small businesses, and publishers, this is an amazing way to get their product out to their customer base. In 3-4 days, you may have just shown your product to a 1,000 potential customers.


:iagree:

Most of the products I looked at this year were programs I wasn't aware of before, and wouldn't be using right away. But they are high on my radar for a year or so from now.

#48 ELaurie

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 02:51 PM

Yes! Could you imagine having all of the books at your fingertips while you're in the library? I think having the lists of people would be a huge asset, too. It could also have all of the memory work suggestions. If it could incorporate homeschool planning (short and long-term) that would be pretty cool.


I would love to have an ap like that! :iagree:

#49 JumpedIntoTheDeepEndFirst

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 02:59 PM

The Well-Trained App...

there is something appealing in the name alone.

#50 newlifemom

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 03:24 PM

The Well-Trained App...

there is something appealing in the name alone.


:iagree: :D


What's with the ads?