Some weeks it feels pretty quiet in Duranland, especially during Duran downtime or when the band is in the studio or on vacation. This week wasn’t that. No, this week featured some news regarding a coffee table book of photographs by Denis O’Regan from the 1984 Sing Blue Silver tour and a Duran Duran calendar for 2014. Both of these announcements got a lot of attention from Duran fans who are anxious to purchase anything and everything Duran, especially from those who are serious collectors. Rhonda touched on the coffee table book on Thursday. I can’t help but add my two cents here about that as well as about the calendar, especially as they are connected. The 2014 official Duran calendar will feature some of the same pictures as the book, according to the Ask Katy, which you can read here. You can also see the cover of the calendar there as well. The calendar will be available for purchase on November 28th and unlike the coffee table book the pricing information is unknown. We do know the prices for the coffee table book, which are on the (VERY) high side starting at $400.
Count me as one of those Duranies who had a moment of excitement and internal jumping up and down in joy at seeing the announcement of the Denis O’Regan book before I came crashing back to reality. I had been hearing about that book for a long time now and couldn’t wait for it to come out. I had always been a fan of his work from those initial photographs in the paperback, Sing Blue Silver book, that I still owe today. He captured that tour so well, in my opinion, and definitely wanted to see more and packaged in a way deserving of such quality. Then, I saw the prices. Ouch. Really big ouch. Painful ouch. Unattainable ouch. As much as I’m sure that this is an amazing set of photographs of a really iconic time in the band’s history, there is no way that I could afford that. Okay. Let me be frank here. I could afford it but it would be at the cost of something else…something else that is just more important to me. That $400 price is more than a plane ticket to see my brother or my nieces or Rhonda. That is more expensive than a VIP ticket to a Duran show. While, yes, I would have that book forever, I prefer to focus my extra spending on experiences with the people I love. On top of that, I couldn’t justify it. I know of many other “coffee table books” that are expensive and high quality. I can’t think of one that is THAT expensive. It leads me to wonder why. I’m not naive. I understand that you have to make money doing art or providing whatever service or product you do, but you don’t need to go overboard. It doesn’t feel very respectful to the fans. I could see charging something like $100-$200 as many of my friends have suggested. Double that suggested price just feels wrong. I suspect that it feels wrong to many Duranies, too.
This, of course, leads me to wonder about how many people will buy it. As Rhonda has stated, she is sure that it will sell out. I’m sure she is right. Yet, I’m a little sad by that and not because I don’t want people to have the product. I do. I wish that every Duranie who wanted it could have it. I just worry that the people who pay the price for this is reinforcing the high price of Duran related products. After all, I can’t blame anyone for charging high prices. Everyone wants to make money and be successful. Yet, buying products at those prices will ensure that they stay that high whereas not being willing might effect prices in the future by having them be lowered. Let me give you an example from Duranland. VIP ticket prices started out around $300 in the Astronaut tour days. As 2008 came around, the prices started creeping up closer and closer to $400. I noticed that less and less people would pay for them at that price. I will be honest. I didn’t. I bought VIP twice before 2011 and both tickets were less than $400. Clearly, then, something changed. VIP prices went down, for the most part, in the US. They are closer to what…$250. Now, of course, some may argue that they offer less, too. True. Yet, no matter, more people, like Rhonda and myself, are buying because of the lower prices. My point here is simple. What we as fans decide to buy and for what price sends a message to the powers that be, which is either that we are willing and able to spend or we are not.
Immediately following the announcement of the coffee table book was the announcement of the 2014 calendar. This, again, excited a lot of Duranies. After all, many, like myself collect the official calendars, and many fans were excited for an opportunity to own some of those great Denis O’Regan photographs at a reasonable price. I have no doubt that the band and the powers that be heard the fans requesting an official calendar. I have had a new Duran calendar every year that they have come out since the reunion. I looked forward it. I didn’t know what the pictures were going to be of since they hadn’t done much together, publicly. Then, I thought, maybe, they would be from the MoMA event and the screening of Unstaged or simply stills from Unstaged as a way to please the fans with a calendar and promote Unstaged. Yet, no, they chose to go with the photos from the 1984 tour. On one hand, I get that. It gives fans a chance to own some of those photos at a cheaper price and, on the other hand, it helps to promote the coffee table book. Yet, as soon as I looked at some of the finer and not-so-finer details, I worried.
My concerns about the calendar center around a big elephant in the Duran Duran room, which is the line-up. I cannot be the only one who likes the current line-up of John, Simon, Nick, Roger AND Dom. I know I am not. I would like my current calendar to reflect the current state of Duran. After all, a calendar represents present day and the present year. Plus, Duran Duran has been about embracing the present, the now and not about looking back. For me, that means those five guys–the four original and the guy that should be officially in the band. In 1984, though, as we all know, Andy Taylor was in the band. Is he then included in both the coffee table book and the calendar? Mixed results, it seems, there. According to the press release on the coffee table book, the deluxe edition has signatures from the original five, which, obviously, means Andy. That makes sense to me since he was in the band then. Does the calendar show the same? From the picture included on the Ask Katy, I see NO pictures of Andy. Is this due to the fact that the calendar is “current” and since he is not currently in the band, he can’t be included? I suspect that is the case. Now, I get how complicated situations like this are. I have no doubt that there is much behind the scenes about contracts and what/where/how Andy can and should or should not be included. Yet, for fans, this kind of thing can hurt. On one hand, the band seems to be celebrating Andy Taylor with the coffee table book. On the other hand, they are pretty open about saying, even so, he is not part of the current line-up. Even worse, if he is not in the calendar at all, is that like changing history? Ignoring a big part of the 1984 Duran Duran? That can’t feel good for Andy fans. Then, there is Dom and his fans. I am sure that he understands projects or other moments focusing on the past, on the times before he was around. Yet, a NEW calendar comes out and doesn’t feature what is current, doesn’t feature him. Ouch. Again, that can’t feel good for Dom fans and those of us embracing the now.
I wanted to be excited for both the coffee table book and the calendar. I really did and I was for both, briefly. My calendar collection needed a new edition and my coffee table could have made room for a fabulous new book. My books on fandom and fan conventions that currently occupy a corner of my coffee table could have been moved for something cool and new. Yet, my pocket book won’t be buying either one. Now, I’m sure that there are many fans who will and that’s fine. I, instead, will think about how that money will be saved to be used later for the next tour or trip.