I’m a big fan of Old Cars Weekly. Editor Angelo Van Bogart does a nice job with the tools available to bring car nutz a weekly dose of nostalgia mixed with hard news and the frequent photo essay of magnificent classics captured in their heyday.
So with great interest I reviewed OCW’s June 18 expose for “Old Cars Report,” a newly-introduced online database to thousands of vehicle stat’s, values, price trends, and auction results. Much of it culled from publisher Krause’s decades-in-the-making trove of gathered info appearing in their Standard Catalog of American Cars.
According to OCW’s price guide editor Ron Kowalke:
There’s really no place to go like this on the web…. you can come to this site and look up pricing and current fair market value, and you can back that up by going to the auction results.
There’s historical info, factory photos, vehicle characteristics, production info, pricing trends, and so on. Sounds like the perfect killer app for us car junkies and it’s just a mouse-click away.
So, what’s the price of admission to this clever web 2.0 implementation of encyclopedic info? Hold on to your seats… for thirty bucks you get an unlimited number of “Reports” for one month. For a tidy $299, you get an unlimited cruise through the OCR data base for one full year. An individual online report is priced at $5.99.
Okay, the product is robust and and the online implementation right on the money (sorry about the pun). But gosh, us car guys are, for the most part, a sorry lot of cheapskates where few place a premium on information. What’s more, much of OCR’s info is available online via a careful Google search (arguably less credible or comprehensive that OCR) or a cruise through Sports Car Market’s comprehensive auction data base.
As a former publisher I can understand the rationale to OCR: We have the info, the cost won’t kill us, and the distribution channel is free. And it’s priced high enough so it won’t undermine sales of the print version. So any associated revenue dollars is gravy.
On the flip side, however, such strategic thinking is not likely to ensure Krause’s survival, and particularly OCW’s, in the face of an audience becoming increasingly satisfied with free online info. Would Krause’s resources be better allocated to online initiatives that can really deliver on the value spectrum, versus dabbling with a service limited to a very small segment of a shaky market?
Let me know your reactions when you test drive OCR. I hope everyone goes home happy… and profitable!
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