Thursday, May 9, 2013

Controversies: eBay & Adobe

Two big announcements have been made in recent weeks by two corporations that impact a lot of artists.  The first was eBay, who announced several changes that I'm actually pretty happy about, and the most recent was Adobe, who announced possibly the most asinine business model I've ever heard of.

Let's start with eBay.

Previously, if you had a store subscription, you paid a base monthly price, and then an additional fee for each item you listed in your store, and an additional fee or commission for each item you sold.  When I first started my store way back in 2006, the price to list something in your basic $14.95 a month store was $.01.  I listed a lot of stuff, but I wasn't consistent enough with it, and I closed the store for a while.  I tried reopening it in 2007, only to discover the price had increased to $.02, then $.03, then $.05, and I think for a while it was as high as $.20.  That's a pretty ridiculous price to pay for putting something into a store, for which you already pay a monthly subscription.  In that time the subscription prices also went up a little bit, making it more ridiculous.

Eventually my expenses were so high for all the artwork listed in my store, that it was worth my while to go to the second level of subscription.  At $49.95 a month, it would still cost me an additional $.05 for every item I put in my store.  My fees were a little bit lower, and I had better exposure and more design options.  It was still stupidly expensive, and in order to get more traffic into your store, it was a good idea to have more and more items in it, making it more and more expensive to maintain.  Some months my fees were as high as $180 (excluding commission), regardless of whether I sold $200 worth of art or $2,000.  Pretty silly, right?

Then eBay announced that if you DIDN'T have a store, you would get 50 listings free each month.  Hang on a minute!  I pay a huge fee, and I don't get anything for it, but people who don't pay anything get more free stuff?  I closed up my store and tried listing free for a month, but I didn't get as many sales.

I re-opened my store a while ago, and finally last month eBay announced that starting May 1st you would get a certain number of free listings with your store.  But, they also increased the subscription prices from $15.95 to $19.95, $49.95 to $59.95, and lowered the highest from a staggering $299 a month to $199.95.  If you commit for a full year, you'll get the $15.95, $49.95, or $179.95 prices.

But the part that really upset a lot of artists was eBay's "new" policy on watermarks.  For years, eBay has said that watermarks on images should not contain URLs.  I have always used URLs on my images so people could find me easier and credit the work properly.  eBay has never punished me for this, even though they could.  Now they say you can watermark your images, but the watermark must not be more than 50% in opacity, and must not contain a URL, but can say something like "© Tiffany Toland-Scott."  This has been their policy since at least 2009, but they've been pretty lax about enforcing it.

This upset a lot of people who wanted their URL on the image, but it's not a bad idea to watermark with your name, actually.  Your name will probably never change, but your website address may, and then you'll have to re-watermark all of your images, and all the stuff that's out there with a URL on it will be inaccurate and it may even be impossible to figure out where it came from.

eBay has also reenforced the policy of image size.  The image needs to be at least 500 pixels on the longest side.  That's a pretty puny image, and no one is going to be able to make a good print from something that size.  Plus, your customers probably won't buy your art if you are displaying it that small.  Customers like to be able to really see something before they buy it, and a 500 pixel image can hide a lot of detail that may actually sell an image for you.  Again, this is a policy eBay has had for years.

All things considered, I think this is a step in the right direction for eBay.

Now... let's talk about Adobe.

I've been a loyal Photoshop user for years.  10?  11?  Something like that.  Adobe recently announced that Photoshop and all other Adobe products are going to The Cloud.  Barf.  Why does every program developer think that every person wants to have all of their business in the almighty Cloud?  Maybe I really hate it and won't do it?  Because that'd be the case, not just for me, but apparently most of Adobe's customers.

I have yet to hear from a single person that thinks this is a good idea, probably because Adobe now wants an exorbitant $50 a month to use Creative Suite.  Once their customers started flinging the proverbial poop at them, they offered $9.99 a month to current users, but even then it goes up in a year and will cost at least $240/year just to use Photoshop.  If you never upgraded (like me) this is a tremendous increase in expense.  For what I do, I really only need layers, paintbrush, and eraser, and the likelihood that I will upgrade is pretty much zilch.  The suggestion that I should use a subscription-based cloud service is shut the front door territory.  I don't like to be connected to the internet when I work, and I don't allow my computer to connect and send data of its own accord, so the activation nonsense that will be required of users like me makes my inner grumpy old woman rage.

Plus, I'm not spending $30 a month for something that currently costs me exactly $0 a month to use.  And who had the stupid idea to go to a monthly subscription for a customer base that largely lives paycheck-to-paycheck?  I can afford $250 to upgrade once in a while, but $30 a month might be my coffee and creamer during slow times, and I won't part with that until I'm dead.

I'm sure it's high-fives all around at Corel, and probably Google who recently acquired a software developer that primarily makes image-processing software.  Adobe's stock has been falling since the announcement, so if you have any of it, it might be a good time to sell.

I am not sure why these idiotic corporate goons don't look at examples like Netflix and realize that you are never too big to make a game-ending decision.


  1. Wow. Asinine is right. What were/are they thinking???? I have both Photoshop and Painter, so it would be no skin off my back to dump Photoshop and spending my time painting with Corel Painter.

  2. Holy Cow thanks for sharing. I think the irony of the whole thing is like you said, what makes them think that we have any money to part with. They are idiots.

  3. Wow,thanks for all this information! Glad Amanda featured you! I am going to read your other blog entries too.

  4. I've been hearing some of this and I agree with you for the most part. Like you said when Ebay started offering 50 a month for free and I had a store well, it was a no brainer because some months I was spending more having a store than I did on profit. I disagree with the 500px image minimum though. I do a lot of ACEO art card sized art and I scan it to get the colors more accurate. 500px kind of makes small art out of proportion and some people think they are getting a bigger work of art. I try not to do photos of artwork because I can't usually get a perfect day outside and don't have the equipment to take professional photos inside. Also, I read where you can't put borders or frames, which would have worked for miniature artworks at 500px. That's probably my biggest gripe about that now. If you do digital artwork, that's a different story.

  5. last I checked, Adobe's software is so ridiculously expensive to start with that there is no way I'd pay extra to use.