Changing Times, Heavy books, and the new two-class Elvis world.
Are the less well-off fans being forgotten?
Spotlight By Nigel Patterson - July 2020
See Below for Updated Reader's comments, plus an informative reply from Erik Lorentzen
Changing times, heavy books, and the two-class Elvis world.
While a lot of fans believe Colonel Tom Parker was bad for Elvis (especially after he returned from the Army), the one thing the Colonel usually got right was to look after the fans. From reasonable ticket prices, cheap licensed merchandise and assisting fan clubs, he worked with fans to engender good will and build interest in the latest Elvis releases. When Elvis exploded onto the international scene all fans were equal and all could enjoy his records and his merchandise.
In 2020, the situation is very different. EPE is owned by commercial interests meaning entry costs to visit Graceland, staying at the Guesthouse, and buying licensed Elvis merchandise is no longer cheap - and importantly, no longer affordable for many who have been fans since the 1950s. To its credit, Elvis’ record company, established the enduring Elvis collector’s label, Follow That Dream, which started out releasing quarterly CDs before increasing the number of quarterly releases and then introducing coffee table book and CD sets. While many could afford one CD each quarter, as the number grew to 2 or 3 a quarter, and were supplemented with expensive books, sales declined, but profit per item rose.
More recently, a number of fan clubs have entered the market with book and CD sets, including Erik Lorentzen, whose high quality 'Elvis Files' books and subsequent releases have found an appreciative “niche” market. Like FTD, Lorentzen’s output accelerated and again many long time fans were left behind, unable to afford to buy the books. In addition, the FTD and Lorentzen releases are large and very heavy, another negative for those fans suffering from the onset of arthritis and other conditions.
By comparison, the MRS and Boxcar organisations have also released many excellent sets (books and multimedia) and generally these have been more attractively priced for the average fan.
Adding to the mix has been the dramatic rise in postal costs (globally) in the past decade, particularly to international destinations. In some cases, the cost of posting a heavy book can be higher than book itself, and if you live “downunder” ensure you have a happy bank manager!
In 2020, the FTD Elvis That’s The Way It Is 50th Anniversary, and Lorentzen’s Elvis That’s The Way It Was Vol 4 & 5 sets, are about to hit the market. Both are highly priced with the FTD release costing up to US$350 plus (including postage) for US and EC based fans, and considerably higher for those fans living in far away countries like Australia.
To buy both sets will set you back around US$450/350 UK Pounds/A$600…….. plus postage. And a 7Kgs or 13kgs+ package is not cheap to post (and likely will come via one of the “charge like a wounded bull” logistics companies like DHL).
The Lorentzen set also begs the question – why another two volumes when the initial three volume set contained around 2,000 photos? And why such a high price (around US$200 not including postage)?
The answer is money. There is obviously a neat profit in targeting the higher end of the Elvis fan market. In this respect, the proliferation of coffee table Elvis books is similar to the (admittedly) less regular annual Elvis box set extravaganzas from RCA/BMG/Sony. And, of course, plenty of the material in all these publications has usually been previously released but now include a few new additions or "upgrades" to attract customers.
Bootleg labels, such as VENUS Productions, have also got in to the Deluxe Book with CD combo package market recently. And that's not mentioning the very small but lucrative "deluxe" vinyl market which can also be ludicously expensive even for poor quality audience recordings.
Times change – the 1950s with its simpler, cheaper and more equitable economy, has been replaced by overstuffed corporations and Wall Street like greed. Sadly for Elvis fans, the passage of time and rising standards of living have also created a two-class Elvis society. One class is higher income fans who can afford generally high quality Elvis product, and the other class who cannot, instead having to satisfy themselves with dreams of yesteryear, the umpteenth $10 Elvis album reissue, and the odd trinket or roadside Elvis on velvet offering.
EIN is not sure what Elvis or even the Colonel would have made of this, but we do know Elvis wanted his fans to be treated equitably and the Colonel knew this was a key to driving ongoing interest in the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. That so many fans can no longer enjoy much of the best Elvis product symbolises an Elvis world that is not what it used to be.
CLICK HERE and send us YOUR comments - Are these deluxe packages Too Expensive?
Spotlight by Nigel Patterson.
-Copyright EIN July 2020
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Erik Lorentzen answers some questions..
My name is Erik Lorentzen, 71 years and age, from Norway. Elvis fan for more than 60 years, and still am.
Publisher of Elvis Books & Magazines. And, Elvis Presley is my passion in life. I spent a lot of time in the US, and all my money, to follow Elvis On Tour and in Las Vegas in the seventies. Memories for life.
The last ten years have been some of my best since the year of 1977. I have had the opportunity to do what I most want to do, work on my biggest passion, Elvis Presley. I have been a publisher for the last 40 years. With Sport magazines, Movie magazines, TV Guides and books before I retired 10 years ago. Since then I have made about twenty books and thirty magazines about Elvis.
For the money's sake?
No way. Then I would have done something completely different. I just love to get up in the morning and start working on what I love the most. It keeps me happy, young (LOL), and with a life to enjoy.
I read that someone out there online (A Fools Paradise) thinks that I and others do this only for the sake of money. What do they know?? Has anyone asked me?? Have they asked what the purchase of photos, rights, printing, shipping and all other expenses are?? Have they asked for circulation?
Let's take FTD! They started this more than 20 years ago and now with around 100 releases of CDs, LPs, Books and Boxes.
I really hope they are making some money.
Without them, I do not think there would have been so many Elvis Fan Clubs, dealers or Elvis shops still around. I know Pål Granlund and Ernst Jørgensen well. Pål has been a close friend since the early sixties, and I know he does what he does for the same reason as me, the passion he has for Elvis. Are we competitors? Yes! Are we friends? Yes! And I know how happy he is to be allowed to do what he loves most.
I speak for myself when I say that clubs, dealers and shops have a good profit on my books and magazines. With a really good discount, they have benefited from what we have delivered, and I know that we - and others - have kept their business alive.
I hope Chris Giles' TheElvisShop makes money. He has exactly the same passion for what he does as Pål, Ernst and I have. Working 15 hours a day, at least 320 days a year to serve his customers.
I also hope ELVIS MATTERS and all the Elvis Fan Clubs make money so they can continue to generate interest for Elvis.
My first book "Elvis - The King Of Las Vegas" (2010) was priced at 69 Euro. My latest book so far "Double Features -Stay Away, Joe/ Speedway" (2020) is priced at the same 69 Euro. Circulation 800 !!! All prices have become more expensive. Paper, printing and binding. Not mine.
The first book was 400 pages. The Elvis Files Volume 1, a few years later, was on 600 pages. Same price. Nobody said anything about the price. My next book was 450 pages, then someone commented on the price that it was too expensive. It should have cost less as it was "only" 450 pages. Where were the comments when 600 pages cost the same as 400 pages??? It's a funny world.
So why ELVIS SUMMER FESTIVAL - TTWIW - VOL. 4 & 5.
It was never intended to release these when Vol. 1, 2 & 3 were released last year with 2,000 unseen photos. But when I got the offer to buy 1,100 unpublished originals from TTWII, I was just absolutely sure, it had to be two more Volumes. And the price on this Box is € 199 including shipping to Australia, Japan, US & Canada.
Our shipping policy is a little different to others. We have what we believe is a social shipping policy where the Norwegians and Europeans pay a little more and overseas much less than they should. At the same time we absorb part of these shippings costs ourselves. We thought this was fair.
And last but not least.... In all my modesty I have to say that I think, after more than sixty years of collecting, I have one of the largest collections of Elvis photos out there. I search for and find new photos almost daily. And money I might earn on my books, I guess I spend more than that on new photos.
I think I've printed more than ten thousand photos of Elvis in recent years, where a lot of them had become forever unseen if not for my publications. Something I am very proud of.
Well, this is just the way I am and hope to continue to be. I know that many out there are negative to what I do, but there are many more who are positive out there, and it is for these that I make and will make books and magazines for as long as my health lasts.
Thanks and TCE
Are ELVIS fans being ripped off with high prices? Totally agree with all of your comments - there is a money hungry frenzy going on in the Elvis world, and has been for many years. In relation to FTD, whilst some of the box sets are commendable, they certainly are expensive and beyond the reach of many older Elvis fans who are now retired and on a pension. A lot of their regular releases are concerts that are lacklustre and contain virtually the same set of songs. My biggest gripe is when they put out a concert cd with incomplete songs. Surely they could find a complete version to round off the concert cd. FTD, in many ways, has "lost the plot".
Elvis Files/Erik Lorentzen - I had a lot of respect for most of the earlier books, despite some quibbles with proofreading and errors. However, this latest cash grab with two more TTWII books is a fiasco that I will not be sucked into. In total, 2000 pages in the five books could have been condensed into one brilliant book!! Something that most fans could afford and really enjoy!
I actually have stopped subscribing to the quarterly Elvis Files magazines. Whilst good, at around $25 each, I would have expected that they would be packaged securely to avoid damage. However, despite pleas, that has not been the case! I have finally come to my senses and realised that all that I really needed was a copy of Elvis movies, a few decent documentaries, the albums released commercially and the wonderful memories of being an Elvis fans, including a trip to Tupelo and Memphis!!
Are ELVIS fans being ripped off with high prices? Currently with the expensive books, in one word. YES !
Hi, I agree with your article as an Elvis collector for over 58 years recently I have had to be very selective on purchasing new product. We were all excited when FTD started to release material generally only available on expensive and hard to find bootlegs and usually in better quality. Now they seem to have started releasing "limited quantity" heavy grade Vinyl records some collectors love them but I have personally given up trying to collect them.
Graceland too has become too expensive for the general fan I have visited four times. The last time was in 2018 I travelled out independently and did not stay at the guesthouse. Bad Nauhiem now appears the place to go I just hope it does not go along the commercialised route of Memphis.
I sometimes wonder if the various manufacturer's are trying to "get in quick" with a profit before us older fans have moved on.
I think your comment sums it all up, thanks for putting these words out. Even in Germany/Europe, where I come from, the fans are a bit shocked by these new prices, many cannot afford it anymore. If you compare it with "The Making Of Viva Las Vegas“, which costed 85Euro, but still had 400 pages in it, the question remains, where does this expensive price for the new TTWII book with 600 pages come from? From the remastering of the 8 CDs? Viva Las Vegas also included 3 CDs – that cannot be the reason.
I think the postage for foreign countries should be considered by FTD, so fans all over the world could have a chance to buy these products. It think, it is handled quite unfair. Considering the strong bondage between Elvis and his US and Australian fans, it seems to be quite a joke, that these fans have to pay so much more.
We are not talking about just some movie book, but about “That’s the way it is“, which was a milestone in Elvis‘ career, and therefore should be distributed equally to all the fans.
Jean Mar Gargiulo (France):
Hello, I enjoyed reading your article about the "TOO MUCH" of books. Not a Month not a week without new this and that, always bigger and bigger and more expensive. I'm a fan since 1960, and started my fan club, THE TREAT ME NICE, in 1965, during the good ol time, when an ELVIS MONTHTLY made us happy.
I stopped buying every book, specially the ones that weigh "tons" that can break your knees... Enough !
Shame on you who criticise the Colonel Parker, he was a "saint" in comparison to these new Elvis sellers.
Even FTD is wrong with re-release of almost all is begining catalog, and now with too many big books. Bravo for your site.
Are ELVIS fans being ripped off with high prices? Ripped off it’s there like modern day highway men who should be wearing capes and a mask shouting stand and deliver.
I have to ask myself how often will I play a box set of just rehearsals and look at books I probably seen pictures of a hundred times before but sadly the answer is yes, no one forced me no one twisted my arm it’s just as a book I once read said there are fans and then there are "Elvis fans".
Are ELVIS fans being ripped off with high prices? Without a doubt, everything seems to have a starting price of approx 65.00 pounds and upwards, be that books, box sets etc, looking at a recent fan magazine if I bought one off each item offered for sale it would cost me approx 800.00 pounds or more, something has got to give they are just looking at fans as being a cash cow now, nothing else.
Mark Ritchie (England):
Yes fans are being ripped off with these hi prices. You may say you dont have to pay them and that is true, But if you are like me if you dont buy these products you feel as you are missing out on a part of the Elvis Legacy. They could do them in single issues, instead of these multi book versions. But they would prefer not to so they can get there money back for the price they had to pay for the photos In the first place a lot quicker.
The TTWII ftd box set is very expensive the CDs in it will be released seperate from the book eventually, and I would guess not in a long time but quite a short time due to the copyright law ending on the songs. Ftd books albums and CDs are all getting very expensive. The albums got cheaper (quality that is not price) by not including photo inner sleeves, the CDs are not very good quality cheap cardboard covers, rubbish liner notes, bad mixing.
I dont know who is actually making the profit from all these releases. Dont know how much the retailer makes out off them or the wholesaler/ manufacturer but compared to other releases they are thru the roof. I am sure they will have an answer to why they have to charge these very high prices no doubt.
One thing is for sure the Elvis collectors of this type of product must be getting smaller as we are all getting older. I know I am Lol
I am in total agreement with your article on the ridiculous prices for the latest TTWII boxsets and books. I thought the 68 special, Legacy MSG with booklet, and the Legacy Boy from Tupelo with booklet (did not get FTD) were fine and I purchased them all.
I am missing something along the way here as a longtime fan. Colonel had a gimmick even when Elvis was alive that when you purchased an album you might get a photo or pocket calendar to make it special for fans to buy the album when it came out. When I was a kid and Elvis died I remember all the magazines and books that came out for $1.00 - $5.00 that I still cherish in my collection. Fans were able to afford to buy many items and feel and see their collections grow. I just purchased Judy Palmer book from Amazon “My Treasured Memories of Elvis” for less than $20.00 and that is loaded with fantastic photos. I don’t need to have coffee table books with 1 photo on it. Sean Shaver’s original book had many great photos with 4 plus pictures on page.
I don’t know why they can’t make it affordable for all fans with today’s technology.
For $100 I would be willing to pay to download the music files, and provide with a Kindle version of the books.
I hope your article resonates with EPE and others that they are ruining it for middle class and poor Elvis fans.
Are ELVIS fans being ripped off with high prices? Without a shadow of doubt the answer is YES having bought some of the earlier high priced books/cd sets etc I have now decided no more.
Not long ago i bought a book for £50 which was given a good review on EIN but in my opinion it was not worth half of that .
It's not only the bigger suppliers of this kind of material that are pricing the average Elvis fan from being able to buy and your remark about the older generation (of which I'm one) is very true, being an Elvis fan these days has become quite expensive this is only my opinion and I understand other people will have a different view but one thing will not change is our support and loyalty to Elvis.
(EIN note: Kevin we’d be interested in knowing which book review you are referring to)
I've been an Elvis fan for 40 years. Indeed, the prices of various products became very expensive. Another point that I find very bad are the releases called "Limited Edition", like many vinyl albums.
I would like to buy the FTD Elvis That’s The Way It Is 50th Anniversary, but I definitely will not!
Congratulations on the subject !!!!!
Overpriced T.T.W.I.I. 2020 - 8 CDs of Rehearsals a no brainer and a No Purchase, for anyone with any copon (common sense?)
Peter Warner (England)
Yes fans are being ripped off. I bought the first Elvis Files book but couldn’t buy more because of high postage. I couldn’t buy the FTD books for same reason.
I would like to buy the TTWII set but price even more. It is time fans were thought about and not screwing fans when they put out overpriced sets.
I agree fans are being ripped off with the exorbitant prices and just as exorbitant postage costs if we live outside America and Europe. America is self destructing with its social divisions and greed is self destructing the Elvis world.
Fans shouldn’t put up with this, its blatantly not what Elvis stood for.
Every knowledgeable Elvis fan knows that the majority of the pictures from your so called books (or FTD) come from film (video) (especially from the 70’s). The reason is simple: Avoid paying royalties and remastering costs of audio/video. So to make fans happy: just put them in a nice fancy box set and the idiots will buy them!
By the way this formula is applied to the Elvis market simply because EPE and fan clubs know that fans will buy them.
Just look the type of quality releases from Frank Sinatra, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and other groups from the same era, and you’ll understand what I am talking about.
I have stopped collecting since the purchase of the '68 comeback 50th anniversary'. The sound was not remastered and the picture quality for a Blu-ray was pitiful to watch. It is sitting on my shelf of Elvis collectibles accumulating dust.
What bothers me the most is that the fan clubs never reported this crappy release therefore I guess EVERYONE is still eating off Elvis Presley.
Long live The King!
Your article on fans being ripped off was a good one. I read Erik Lorentzens response and it was about him. He ignored a lot of the issues that piss off fans and his defense was all about him not the fans and the things you pointed out.
He thinks not making a greedy profit to justify his prices.
He didn’t say anything about the VERY high prices ripping off fans who have supported Elvis for sixty years.
I am lucky I am not that old and how heavy books are doesn’t worry me but that is not what it is like for fans older than me.
Erik Lorentzen was about himself not the fans who buy his books.
|COME ON FTD! Let's Speed Things Up A Little!: EIN has very strongly supported the FTD label from the start even though their quality control has slipped at times.
Recently this seems to have got worse, perhaps due to the producers Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Semon's extra work with mainstream SONY releases.
The last couple of FTD live soundboards have notably run slow dragging down the pace of Elvis' performance. This has also been an issue on some previous concert releases.
On ELVIS LAS VEGAS '74' FTD the dates were wrong with the two shows reversed from what the cover indicated.
Do FTD collectors deserve better or should we be happy to have anything released with faults and all?
Go here as EIN contributor & Elvis author Shane Brown investigates.
Are you a FTD collector - we want to know YOUR THOUGHTS
Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) - Exposing the Amazon Elvis Book Rip-Off?: From RCA to Sony Elvis' back catalog has long been exploited at the expense of his legacy. The same thing is now happening regarding Elvis book releases!
Through clever marketing, including the use of different (but suspicious) author names and different book titles for releases which are essentially identical; short and long book editions; and coupling the Elvis story with that of other celebrities, a glut of Elvis related book titles (with repetitive text) only available from Amazon are blatantly misleading fans.
Read EIN's findings in our "exclusive" investigative report
| 'If I Can Dream' new Elvis album - EIN Readers Respond: The publicity for the "new" Elvis album is ramping up, which is good to see. Yesterday EIN asked its readers what were their opinions so far about the new album to be released at the end of this week.
Of all the sneak previews EIN suggested that the new version of "Burning Love" sounded GHASTLY!
Nor can we possibly believe that these songs with new overdubs are, "What Elvis would have loved to have had" as Priscilla tells everyone on her publicity trail.
EIN reader's comments are a very mixed bunch such as..
... I've listened to every track that's available from this CD, and I hate them all! They've ruined Elvis' songs. Why can't they leave his music alone? The original tracks are perfect, just the way they are!
....The new arrangements are terrific and exciting as well as creative - especially Burning Love!!
... I’ve really liked most of what I’ve heard so far but must agree that 'Burning Love' is a bit odd… it doesn’t offend but it won’t be the track I use to sell the concept to family and friends."
|... They have absolutely destroyed "Burning Love". This was about as stupid as painting a mustache on the "Mona Lisa".
To be honest while EIN is not so sure of the concept of putting an orchestra over already orchestrated versions and putting violins over great rock'n'roll numbers like 'Burning Love' but we are keeping an open mind until we hear the whole album on a quality HiFi.
We also hope the album is a big success but maybe we are the wrong target-market since we know the originals so very well. Today we add lots more reader feedback - including a very detailed look from EIN contributor Bryan Gruszka.
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