Braille Monitor                                                                  April-May 1985

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Your Library Service, What it Costs: Some Little Known Facts About Bids and Producers

by James Gashel

The Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) is the largest single buyer of Braille and recorded materials for the blind in the nation. The list includes Braille books, Braille magazines, print-Braille (children's) books, books on flexible disc, magazines on flexible disc, cassette books and magazines, and rigid disc books.

The names of the producers appear on each publication. The familiar ones to most library users are the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). In times past, AFB and APH cornered the market. But times change. Would you believe that APH produced less than half of the new Braille books that NLS added to the collection in 1984? It's true-and for 1985, too. Would you believe that APH is not producing any of twenty-four Braille magazines that NLS is buying this year? That, too, is true. But last year APH did four of twenty-four of the regular circulation Braille magazines. Times change.

Triformation Braille Services, located in Stuart, Florida, is one of the newer Braille producers. It Brailled 215 new titles for NLS for 1984, compared to 120 produced by APH. But this year Triformation's bid to do Braille books for NLS was not chosen. The big winner was Associated Services for the Blind (ASB) of Philadelphia. ASB will do 200 new Braille books for NLS for 1985 for a total price of $789,063. The figures show that APH would likely charge $954,766.23 for the same amount of work.

Recent bids for Brailling magazines show a marked difference among the producers. For instance, APH said it would Braille Fortune magazine and charge $18.61 a copy for doing it. But National Braille Press (NBP) in Boston will do the same job for $7.73 a copy. ASB would do Fortune for $8.90 a copy, and Clovernook Printing House for the Blind (CPH) quoted $10.12 a copy. These four producers are the only current competitors for NLS Braille magazine contracts. Their bids for Playboy magazine, for example, show a pattern similar to the Fortune quotations. APH, $14.04; ASB, $8.11; CPH, $7.92; and NBP, $8.63.

There are some interesting facts about sound recordings, too. The producers of these materials include APH, AFB, Magnetix Disc Corporation, Eva-Tone Sound-sheets, and Tin Man Enterprises. Magnetix, Eva-Tone, and Tin Man are for-profit companies. APH and AFB are notfor-profit, blindness related charities. But an examination of their bids for NLS recording contracts would make you wonder who is out to make a profit and at what price. For instance, on making master tapes for cassette books (known as "intermasters") both APH and AFB are higher than any of the other competitors. AFB is the highest at $14.95 per intermaster, regardless of quantity, from 150 to 6,000. But Magnetix (for- profit) gives a quantity discount, reaching a low of $9.50 each for 6,000 intermasters produced. Tin Man Enterprises (also for-profit) beats that with its bid of $8.50 regardless of quantity.

On cassette tape duplication, again the price picture is similar. Magnetix beats the pack with a low of $ .95 for up to 1,000,000 tapes duplicated. But APH will charge $1.22 each for the same 1,000,000 tapes. AFB's price is $1,175 regardless of quantity. But both Eva- Tone and Tin-Man beat that by more than $ .11 per tape. Under the circumstances, one wonders why the Library of Congress would buy any materials from AFB or APH.

Actually they still corner the market on rigid disc books. Some of these are new copies of old books already once recorded by AFB or APH. In recent times (during the last two years we analyzed) NLS has split buying of rigid disc books down the middle, giving half the business (125 titles each) to AFB and to APH respectively. Each is paid approximately half of $1,820,000 that NLS will spend on rigid disc books for 1985. That seems to be a comfortable, easygoing arrangement-but far less competitive than price wars with the for-profit recording companies. It is hard to imagine that the two giants (AFB and APH) cannot undercut these small by comparison recording studios who are just doing business to make a buck. But the non-profit giants charge higher prices for the same work almost every time.

It's nice to know there is competition for the federal dollar even at NLS. Competition helps hold prices down. Just think what would happen if AFB and APH still had the market all to themselves. For one thing, we would get fewer books and magazines than are now available from a wider variety of producers. And as taxpayers we would likely pay more for the fewer publications we would get.

APH receives a straight government subsidy each year, currently running at $5.5 million for the 1985 federal fiscal year. It goes to produce educational materials for schools. But $5.5 million should also cover a lot of the overhead costs of running APH and of keeping the presses rolling. AFB, too, gets government grants regularly. It also gets millions in charitable giving and has an endowment approaching $30 million in reserve. This may be a layman's point of view, but facts are facts. If the American Foundation for the Blind and the American Printing House for the Blind wanted to expand significantly the amount and variety of reading matter available to blind people in Braille and recorded forms, they could do so and probably at less cost than anyone else. It would certainly fulfill a worthwhile objective for each institution and be a meaningful service to the blind. Meanwhile, it appears that competition among an expanding number of suppliers may bring the best cost-relief of all.

Here are more details in a summary of recent National Library Service bids and contracts. In considering the details of the charts that follow it should be kept in mind that the National Library Service gives preference to non-profit organizations in the letting of contracts. Specifically, if a non-profit organization does not bid more than ten percent higher than a profit making corporation, the contract is awarded to the non-profit group. This has special significance with respect to the contracts for production of Braille books since Triformation Braille Service is a for-profit organization while the other producers which submitted bids for the 1985 Braille contracts are not.

SUMMARY OF RECENT
NLS BIDS AND CONTRACTS

BIDS ON BRAILLE BOOKS FISCAL YEAR 1985

(Note: Costs are stated in cents per page.)

Associated Services for the Blind of Philadelphia: $ .16, between 12 and 120 titles; $ .155, between 120 and 200 titles; $ .1389, between 200 and 250 titles; $ .135, between 250 and 300 titles.

American Printing House for the Blind: $ .197, between 12 and 60 titles; $.192; between 60 and 90 titles; $ .182, between 90 and 120 titles; $ .178, between 120 and 200 titles; $ .177, between 200 and 300 titles; $ .182, between 300 and 350 titles.

National Braille Press: $ .175, between 12 and 15 titles.

Triformation Braille Services: $ .167, between 200 and 250 titles; and $ .164, between 250 and 300 titles.

CONTRACT AWARDS FOR BRAILLE BOOKS FISCAL YEAR 1984 & FISCAL YEAR 1985

(Note: The information below shows each producer of Braille books, the number of titles produced, and the total contract award for each fiscal year.)

American Printing House for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, 120 titles, $700,847; fiscal year 1985, 138 titles, $697,617.

Associated Services for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, 15 titles, $79,642; fiscal year 1985, 200 titles, $789,063.

National Braille Press: fiscal year 1984, not a contractor; fiscal year 1985, 12 titles, $59,640.

Triformation Braille Services: fiscal year 1984, 215 titles, $998,839; fiscal year 1985, no titles.

BIDS ON BRAILLE MAGAZINES FISCAL YEAR 1985

(Note: Costs are stated by price per copy of magazine produced. The list includes all bids on selected NLS purchased Braille magazines. The bid samples are representative of other price quotations not included in this list.)

Better Homes and Gardens American Printing House for the Blind, $7.34; Associated Services for the Blind, $4.90; Clovernook Printing House for the Blind, $4.74; National Braille Press, $5.00.

Children's Digest American Printing House for the Blind, $1.88; Associated Services for the Blind, $2.23; Clovernook Printing House for the Blind, $2.15; National Braille Press, $2.55.

Consumers Research American Printing House for the Blind, $3.35; Associated Services for the Blind, $3.48; Clovernook Printing House for the Blind, $3.18; National Braille Press, $4.03.

Fortune Magazine American Printing House for the Blind, $18.61; Associated Services for the Blind, $8.90; Clovernook Printing House for the Blind, $10.12; National Braille Press, $7.73.

Health Magazine American Printing House for the Blind, $3.94; Associated Services for the Blind, $3.02; Clovernook Printing House for the Blind, $2.71; National Braille Press, $2.86.

Horizon American Printing House for the Blind, $4.90; Associated Services for the Blind, $5.05; Clovernook Printing House for the Blind, $6.65; National Braille Press, $6.54.

Isaac Asimov American Printing House for the Blind, $16.72; Associated Services for the Blind, $8.03; Clovernook Printing House for the Blind, $9.09; National Braille Press, $8.74.

Ladies Home Journal American Printing House for the Blind, $8.40; Associated Services for the Blind, $4.80; Clovernook Printing House for the Blind, $5.03; National Braille Press, $5.69.

National Geographic American Printing House for the Blind, $6.30; Associated Services for the Blind, $3.60; Clovernook Printing House for the Blind, $3.78; National Braille Press, $3.87.

Playboy American Printing House for the Blind, $14.04; Associated Services for the Blind, $8.11; Clovernook Printing House for the Blind, $7.92; National Braille Press, $8.63.

CONTRACT AWARDS FOR BRAILLE MAGAZINES FISCAL YEAR 1984 & FISCAL YEAR 1985

(Note: The information below shows each producer of Braille magazines, the number of magazines produced, and the total contract award for each fiscal year.) American Printing House for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, 4 magazines, $96,846; fiscal year 1985, not an NLS contractor for Braille magazines.

Associated Services for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, 3 magazines, $146,239; fiscal year 1985, not an NLS contractor for Braille magazines.

Clovernook Printing House for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, 14 magazines, $1,066,794; fiscal year 1985, 21 magazines, $1,120,270.

National Braille Press: fiscal year 1984, 3 magazines, $186,743; fiscal year 1985, 3 magazines, $218,886.

BIDS ON FLEXIBLE DISC BOOKS FISCAL YEAR 1985

(Note: Price quotations are shown for two recording lengths, 88 minute full track and price per minute partial track.)

Eva-Tone Soundsheets: Between 10 and 50 titles, $292.50 (full track); $3.33 (price per minute partial track). Between 50 and 75 titles, $252.50 (full track); $2.87 (price per minute partial track). Between 75 and 100 titles, $245.50 (full track); $2.79 (price per minute partial track). 100 titles, $240.00, (full track); $2.73 (price per minute partial track).

Magnetix Disc Corporation: Between 10 and 50 titles (full track) $250.00; $3.00 (price per minute per partial track).

CONTRACT AWARDS FOR FLEXIBLE DISC BOOKS FISCAL YEAR 1984 & FISCAL YEAR 1985

(Note: The information below shows each producer of flexible disc books, the number of books produced, and the total contract award for each fiscal year.)

Evatone Soundsheets: fiscal year 1984, 100 titles, $1,250,000; fiscal year 1985, 100 titles, $1,210,000.

Magnetix Disc Corporation: fiscal year 1984, not an NLS contractor for flexible disc books; fiscal year 1985, 10 titles, $121,000.

BIDS ON FLEXIBLE DISC MAGAZINES FISCAL YEAR 1985

(Note: Costs are stated by price per copy of magazine produced. The list includes all bids on selected NLS purchased flexible disc magazines. The bid samples are representative of other price quotations not included in this list.)

Atlantic Monthly American Printing House for the Blind, no bid; Eva-Tone Soundsheets, $ 1.159.

Changing Times American Printing House for the Blind, $ .728; Eva-Tone Soundsheets; $ .717.

Children's Magazine Program American Printing House for the Blind, $ .630; Eva-Tone Soundsheets, $ .636.

Consumer Reports American Printing House for the Blind, no bid; Eva-Tone Soundsheets, $1,236.

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine American Printing House for the Blind, $.928; Eva-Tone Soundsheets, $ .915.

National Geographic American Printing House for the Blind, $ .666; Eva-Tone Soundsheets, $ .627.

National Review American Printing House for the Blind, no bid; Eva-Tone Soundsheets, $1.13.

Natural History American Printing House for the Blind, $ .620 Eva-Tone Soundsheets, $ .646.

New York Times American Printing House for the Blind, no bid; Eva-Tone Soundsheets, $ .378.

Sports Illustrated American Printing House for the Blind, no bid; Eva-Tone Soundsheets, $ .586.

CONTRACT AWARDS FOR FLEXIBLE DISC MAGAZINES FISCAL YEAR 1984 & FISCAL YEAR 1985

(Note: The information below shows each producer of flexible disc magazines, the number of magazines produced, and the total contract award for each fiscal year.)

American Printing House for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, not a contractor for flexible disc magazines; fiscal year 1985, 1 magazine, $133,000.

Eva-Tone Soundsheets: fiscal year 1984, 34 magazines, $4,400,000; fiscal year 1985, 33 magazines, $3,564,000.

BIDS ON CASSETTE BOOK PRODUCTION FISCAL YEAR 1985

(Note: Bids submitted for cassette production are of two types: (1) production of master tapes to be duplicated (called intermasters), and (2) actual duplication of each cassette tape. Each type of bid will be shown for each potential supplier. Costs are quoted per number of intermasters and number of duplications.)

Magnetix Disc Corporation: Intermasters, $12.00, between 150 and 1,200; $10.00, between 1,200 and 4,200; $9.50, between 4,200 and 6,000. Duplication, $1.04, between 25,000 and 200,000; $.99, between 200,000 and 600,000; $ .95, between 600,000 and 1,000,000.

Tin Man Enterprises: Intermasters, $8.50, between 150 and 6,000. Duplication, $1.05, between 25,000 and 1,000,000.

American Printing House for the Blind: Intermasters, $12.85, between 150 and 6,000. Duplication, $1.22, between 25,000 and 1,000,000.

American Foundation for the Blind: Intermasters, $14.95, between 150 and 6,000. Duplication, $1,175, between 25,000 and 1,000,000.

Eva-Tone Soundsheets: Intermasters, $10.00, between 150 and 1,200. Duplication, $1.05, between 25,000 and 200,000.

Cutting Studio: Intermasters, $13.00, between 150 and 600. Duplication, $1.14, between 25,000 and 300,000.

CONTRACT AWARDS FOR CASSETTE BOOKS FISCAL YEAR 1984 & FISCAL YEAR 1985

(Note: The information below shows the producers of cassette tape books, the number of titles produced, and the total contract award for each fiscal year. Only those contractors who both record and duplicate cassettes are included.)

American Foundation for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, 400 titles, $1,837,600; fiscal year 1985, 345 titles, $731,952.

American Printing House for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, 365 titles, $1,669,510; fiscal year 1985, 420 titles, $2,000,000.

TOTAL PAYMENTS TO CONTRACTORS BY NLS FISCAL YEAR 1984 & FISCAL YEAR 1985

American Foundation for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, $3,093,512; fiscal year 1985, $1,631,952.

American Printing House for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, $3,404,697; fiscal year 1985, $3,750,617.

Associated Services for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, $225,881; fiscal year 1985, $789,063.

Clovernook Printing House for the Blind: fiscal year 1984, $1,066,794; fiscal year 1985, $1,120,270.

Eva-Tone Soundsheets: fiscal year 1984, $5,650,000; fiscal year 1985, $4,774,000.

Magnetix Disc Corporation: fiscal year 1984, $724,000; fiscal year 1985, no current contracts.

National Braille Press: fiscal year 1984, $186,743; fiscal year 1985, $218,886.

Tin Man Enterprises: fiscal year 1984, $294,000; fiscal year 1985, no current contracts.

Triformation Braille Services: fiscal year 1984, $998,839; fiscal year 1985, no current contracts.