Dear Faithlife, I am not stupid

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Mon, Feb 22 2016 5:43 PM

From my email:

Logos Bible Software:

Since 2008, you’ve helped us ship thousands of products through our Pre-Pub program. We’ve just canceled production of a number of Pre-Pubs that weren’t gaining enough momentum, enabling other products to be delivered faster.

You’ll find a list of your canceled pre-pub orders at the bottom of this email.

As a result, $nnnnnn you had committed to Pre-Pubs has been freed up. So, treat yourself today.

If you would like to speak with a Logos product specialist about resources you can add to your library, call our friendly staff at 888‑875‑9491.

Base packages are the best way to get the books you want at below Pre-Pub pricing. Show me.

We have hundreds of books that will help with your Bible study on sale every day. Browse what’s on sale.

If you want to reinvest your money in Pre-Pubs that are shipping soon, browse our list of Pre-Pubs.

I have already begun treating myself. The books you cancelled were nearly all in areas that you have very limited resources available - things of interest to adult religious education/faith formation volunteers, for liturgists, or in some cases things I supported not because I wanted them but because I believed they should be in your catalogue if you were to successfully broaden your base market.

So how have I treated myself?

  • Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Threee Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years by Philip Jenkins
  • Epistemic Logic: A Survey of the Logic of Knowledge by Nicholas Rescher
  • The Logic of Religion by Joseph M. Bochenski, O.P.
  • Buddhist-Christian Dialogue as Theological Exchange: An Orthodox Contribution to Comparative Theology by Ernest M Valea

What is my next step? The obvious next move is to pick up any volumes in the cancelled pre-pubs that I don't already own in dead tree form. I am missing:

  • one volume of Interfaces
  • a couple of Aidan Nichols volumes
  • several Neusner volumes which I will purchase in a more selective manner than the Logos bundles
  • a handful of liturgical, narrative theology and storytelling resources

More base packages? Do you realize that much of what I don't have is because I have no use for it and no interest in it? It should be obvious from my purchases that my interests are (in loosely descending order):

  • Catholic/Orthodox resources with a minimal interest in pastoral or church history resources
  • High Anglican/Lutheran resources with a primary interest in liturgics, faith formation and Bible study
  • worship - hymns, prayer books, lectionaries, liturgical calendars ...
  • bible study - methodology, narrative studies, socio-rhetoical studies, structural studies, linguistics, Jewish methods ...
  • theology - narrowly oriented to liturgical theology and epistemological concerns
  • inter-faith studies - especially where there is historical interaction with Christianity e.g. Sufism, Buddhism

You should get the picture ... there is very little chance that the money reflected in the cancelled prepubs will be reinvested in other Logos resources. A simple comparison of my wish list to my prepub list should have made that obvious.

I don't attempt to run your business - if you found it advantageous to cancel the pre-pubs so be it. Just don't insult me by trying to turn it into an opportunity for me to spend my money on resources I had obviously given lower priority.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 5:59 PM

MJ. Smith:

there is very little chance that the money reflected in the cancelled prepubs will be reinvested in other Logos resources. A simple comparison of my wish list to my prepub list should have made that obvious.

I don't attempt to run your business - if you found it advantageous to cancel the pre-pubs so be it. Just don't insult me by trying to turn it into an opportunity for me to spend my money on resources I had obviously given lower priority.

Yes Geeked Yes

Posts 1923
Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 6:06 PM

MJ. Smith:
there is very little chance that the money reflected in the cancelled prepubs will be reinvested in other Logos resources.

Well I was not going to say it, but yes, this is true.  And while I did not write it, I did think it. I have enjoyed MJ's logic over the years...

Posts 1048
William Gabriel | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 6:16 PM

Preach it

Posts 118
Ted Harms | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 6:41 PM

I also very disappointed that they turned the cancelling of Pre-pubs into an opportunity to sell us additional items. Come on guys we are not all like Donald trump. We work very hard for everything we have. Please do not turn everything into another opportunity to increase sales!

Posts 6158
DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 7:07 PM

Mark:

MJ. Smith:
there is very little chance that the money reflected in the cancelled prepubs will be reinvested in other Logos resources.

Well I was not going to say it, but yes, this is true.  And while I did not write it, I did think it. I have enjoyed MJ's logic over the years...

Yes, That's what it's all about! Just Say It! You go MJ! I know I'd say something similar if my prepubs had been canceled 👍👌🤘I'm sorry but Faithlife's marketing techniques are upsetting quite a few people. The sad thing is that not long ago a Faithlife employee (Phil Gons) was trying to honor the "value" of the prepub program by purposely leaving out a nice commentary that was supposed to be on sale. Wow, some value it must have now!!! The good thing about it is that I choose to laugh at these claims they make LOL 😜😁😂 no use of getting upset, they have a cow to milk and they're just finding new ways to do it, even if it upsets long time customers :)

DAL

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 7:23 PM

Please note that I worded my complaint very carefully and meant exactly what I said. Logos has the right to cancel prepubs and that does not upset me. However I am insulted that they expect me to use faulty logic to transfer the "freed" funds to other purchases from them. For all they know, the next item in my spending priorities might be buying a heifer. I always detest errors of logic and probabilistic logic tells me that it is more likely that I will want to obtain the cancelled resources in different formats or transfer the funds to non-book purposes. Their logic would hold if the realm of discourse was limited to users constrained to electronic versions in Logos format with a dedicated book-fund that must be spent in a short time frame.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 2194
Jan Krohn | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 7:26 PM

Simple calculation:

Deadish PP items block an amount of x Dollars across the customer base, which FL will not see a Penny of in 100 years.

Cancelling these PPs releases amount x. Even if FL only sees 5% or 10% of that money invested back in other products, it's still better for them than the previous scenario. I can fully understand the business decision behind it, and do support it as it's good not only for FL, but also for boosting the remaining PPs and CPs.

How to communicate it in a meaningful and sensible way is an entirely different question...

Past IT Consultant. Past Mission Worker. Entrepreneur. Future Seminary Student.
Why Amazon sucks: Full background story of my legal dispute with the online giant

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Robert M. Warren | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 7:27 PM

So there.

Win 10 Android 8.1 Fire OS 5

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 7:45 PM

Jan Krohn:
Deadish PP items block an amount of x Dollars across the customer base, which FL will not see a Penny of in 100 years.

Unfortunately for your argument, I do not grant this presupposition. I would be willing to grant it for a small subset of the user base. But many of us do not have a "book budget" but rather budget Logos resources along with our other discretionary purchases. And, as an optimist, I have seen "deadish" items come to life when enough related materials/functions have become available to build the market. I would like to see a more deliberate ordering of offerings to build specific sub-markets.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 8:04 PM

MJ. Smith:
I don't attempt to run your business - if you found it advantageous to cancel the pre-pubs so be it. Just don't insult me by trying to turn it into an opportunity for me to spend my money on resources I had obviously given lower priority.

Precisely, had I wanted them, I would have ordered them although I do have a small number in my wishlist, but I will only order them when my budget is freed up, not when a POTENTIAL budget is freed up.  My interests are different from yours as I suspect each person has his own interests differing from others.  My interests lie in ancient languages and ANE history.  I have other interests as well, but that is the major area of interest.  Most of those cancelled are in those areas (except for Calvin's sermons which will interest any TULIP lover).

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 8:31 PM

MJ. Smith:
I would like to see a more deliberate ordering of offerings to build specific sub-markets.

I would like to see a more careful design of Pre-Pub bundles, especially ones aimed at the Catholic market. Sizeable vaguely thematic collections of vastly varying books by authors often dramatically opposed to each other (even, sometimes, at a personal level) is a poor recipe for successful Pre-Pubs.

Posts 525
Glenn Crouch | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 8:57 PM

MJ. Smith:

You should get the picture ... there is very little chance that the money reflected in the cancelled prepubs will be reinvested in other Logos resources. A simple comparison of my wish list to my prepub list should have made that obvious.

I don't attempt to run your business - if you found it advantageous to cancel the pre-pubs so be it. Just don't insult me by trying to turn it into an opportunity for me to spend my money on resources I had obviously given lower priority.

Well said - I felt a bit "insulted" by the wording of the letter - bad enough to be disappointed by losing something I never had Wink - I think more wisdom could have been used in the formation of the letter.

Pastor Glenn Crouch
St Paul's Lutheran Church
Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia

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Bob Pritchett | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Feb 22 2016 11:55 PM

I'm sorry -- we didn't mean offense to anyone!

It's a sad day when we cancel any Pre-Pub -- we want to see them all make it! But we're going through a phase of dealing with things as they are, not as we wish them to be, and as they are, these books weren't going to get enough interest to move forward. And worse, books that do 'just barely make it' in Pre-Pub are essentially profit-less. So while we might sell a thousand dollars worth of Title X, we end up with $0 to run the business after the cost of the book's production.

That's fine for a title here or there, but doesn't scale well!

While I know that you, M.J., are not one to consider books interchangeable, I also know that you are not in any way a typical customer. <smile> (On the contrary, you are a uniquely exceptional and particularly valued customer! No one else uses the product, or challenges us to make it better, in quite the same way...)

It does appear to be true that many of our users do exercise some 'potential spending reservation.' Some people have a long wish list of titles they'd like to buy in Logos format, and sometimes they do appear to make trade-offs. While we can't tell exactly how much long-deferred pre-pubs 'lock-up' potential spend, we can tell that 'low-margin titles' DO take user investment that might otherwise go to 'survivable-margin titles.' :-)

While every user is unique, with tens of thousands of customers we're able to tease out some stats and general models, and it appears that in general users have spent close to the same dollars-per-year on add-on books per user. And while each year's larger catalog DOES increase that number (reflecting that Title Y is now available, and so now can be purchased from Logos instead of Amazon), it turns out that the growth rates are different. Based on analysis and user comments, it appears that many people already have a wish-list much bigger than their book budget, so if we don't deliver Title Y this year, some of them will buy Title X that's already available, since it was on the wishlist too.

(And of course some will go buy Title Y from Amazon, or a used bookseller, or hunt down the last remaining copy in the back of a time-forgotten Romanian bookstore...)

In very simplistic terms, it appears that ten years ago we could double the number of titles available and double the purchases, but that now (with 80,000+ titles available), doubling the number of books available (at great cost of production) only increases sales by 10%.

These aren't the real numbers, just explanatory examples. And we're actually working on some 'hacks' to make even more books available (Vyrso-style). 

Again, we didn't mean any offense... but simply sent the same email to everyone affected. For you it was clearly the wrong message, but for some it probably made a bit more sense.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 23 2016 12:24 AM

If I were in your business, what would keep me up at night would be denominations deciding to follow the pattern being blazed by the 84000 project - where something like Migne could easily replace the corpus. Depth and price are both right; tagging is a bit deficient. Wink

But I agree that some significant slice of your current user base is probably strongly influenced by a book budget form of compensation but that is not necessary the most available growth group.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 23 2016 12:41 AM

Bob Pritchett:
It does appear to be true that many of our users do exercise some 'potential spending reservation.' Some people have a long wish list of titles they'd like to buy in Logos format, and sometimes they do appear to make trade-offs. While we can't tell exactly how much long-deferred pre-pubs 'lock-up' potential spend, we can tell that 'low-margin titles' DO take user investment that might otherwise go to 'survivable-margin titles.' :-)

I'm in this category.

In my case, receiving the email wouldn't have encouraged me to buy more books, but it would have encouraged me not to cancel pre-pubs I couldn't afford.

Personally, I don't have a problem with the email. Whilst it would have been nice if it had included an expression of regret, you can hardly blame Logos for wanting to put a positive spin on something that's users will find a bit disappointing.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 23 2016 12:53 AM

Mark Barnes:
but it would have encouraged me not to cancel pre-pubs I couldn't afford.

This is something where we have seen a real division of forum users - those who consider a prepub purchase/bid as a provisional purchase to be decided upon when the resource is close to release and those who consider it a contract to purchase to be broken only under exceptional circumstances.

One thing I hope the "clearing of deadwood" action will do is decrease the percentage of cancellations that Faithlife must plan for giving us a low cost point to be met to get something into production.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 2851
Sascha John | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 23 2016 1:33 AM

I'm one of these with few Money and find out that I total misunderstood the Prepubs.

It say "showing Intressed"  and yes I have Intress in what I prepub, and I say Yes even if I know it will take a while Hope that I will have the Money if it comes. Sometimes I don't so I have to cancel.

Maybe it should be two different things

1. Interessed (How in the World is that spell) maybe with a Hint how much it will cost

2. Prepub with a Yes I will buy it if it comes 

Posts 3102
Whyndell Gizzard | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 23 2016 2:09 AM

Thanks for the post MJ.

Unfortunately for Faithlife- I have figured out that I wasted 30% of every dollar spent in regards to packages on books I would never use- and have not.

As far as prepubs- well lets say paper is my new friend and kindle is fast replacing FL for my book purchases- I'm actually getting books I want and at a 75% savings across the board in most cases.

Do I care about intergration yes- but alas I also care about stewardship- I can make it work.

I am culling MY prepub books again, by weeks end it will most likely be less than $500.

Posts 3645
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 23 2016 2:35 AM

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