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DigiCULT
.
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actual surplus or profit.
- All organisations surveyed placed their
duty to provide low-cost access to
materials to the public above the need
to make a profit from those materials.
- The provision of services is driven by
the public's desire to have access to the
unique, rare and valuable collections
available in European cultural and
heritage institutions.
- No institution was able to quantify
accurately the cost of digital
preservation.
COST STUDY FINDINGS
T
he results are indicative of the
maturity of the market for the sale
of analogue and digital items in the
heritage sector. It also shows the state of
the technical provision and integration of
the business process with wider institu-
tional goals. Obviously many services
offer multiple methods of payment.
Payment options explored
Number of
institutions Percentage
Payment in advance
Payment on delivery
E-commerce
Credit card
Cheque/bank transfer
Invoice
Cash
Other
E
XPLORING
C
HARGING
M
ODELS FOR
D
IGITAL
C
ULTURAL
H
ERITAGE IN
E
UROPE
BY SIMON TANNER,
SENIOR CONSULTANT,
HIGHER EDUCATION DIGITISATION
SERVICES (HEDS).
INTRODUCTION
D
uring 2002 HEDS examined the
new market realities and opportu-
nities that cultural institutions face due to
the transition to digitised collections. The
project explored the cost and policy
models adopted in arriving at pricing
structures for delivering surrogates of
unique or rare items as digital objects.
HEDS
1
was invited to carry out the
research study on behalf of the Andrew
W. Mellon Foundation
2
.
T
he study focused upon libraries,
archives, museums and galleries.
Cultural heritage institutions in the UK
were investigated, with some other
European institutions included - in total,
fifty-one institutions were surveyed and
fifteen were interviewed. As far as the
author is aware, this is the only study to
explore and report upon the pricing prac-
tice and policy for the transition to digital
for a wide range of cultural and heritage
organisations.
C
ultural institutions which hold valu-
able and unique/rare artefacts have
been creating surrogate representations of
these for centuries. Since the development
of photo-reproduction methods, these
institutions have made available a whole
range of secondary images for many
purposes: for scholarship, teaching, public
enjoyment, publication, etc. Most large
libraries, museums and galleries promote
reproductions of their own images as mass
consumer goods such as postcards or
posters. Many institutions also offer on-
demand services to create and supply very
high quality photographs for scholarship
and publication. With the development of
top-of-the-range digital cameras and
scanners, digital reproductions which rival
in quality even the best of photographic
images can now be supplied. As a result
many cultural and heritage institutions are
now turning to digital capture for some
or all of their services. Throughout this
article, the photographic reproductions
are referred to as `analogue' and are com-
pared with the newer `digital' formats. As
the study also dealt only with cultural and
heritage artefacts with significant image
content, contemporary text based formats
(such as printed books and journals) were
excluded from the focus of the work.
T
he study drew a number of wide-
ranging conclusions. Primary among
these are:
- The most powerful deciding factor for
price was the perceived market value of
the item (as defined by what similar
organisations are charging) rather than
the actual cost of creation and
provision.
- Digital is considered a cheaper product
to create and distribute than analogue.
- None of the interviewed institutions
were fully recovering the cost of
creation, management, storage and
service provision solely from the sale of
the digital item itself.
- Only those institutions that accounted
for the revenue raised from the sale of
commercial rights to use the materials
as a part of their operation showed an
1http://heds.herts.ac.uk
2http://www.mellon.org
36
8
5
16
24
18
15
2
71%
16%
10%
31%
47%
35%
29%
4%