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Re: Fees for Publications & Seminar

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I apologize, Scott.  You have it all figured out.

On Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 10:24 AM, Scott Maxwell <smaxwell(--nospam--at)umich.edu> wrote:
It must be that time again...I hand no looked at the calendar, but I
supposed it has been about 3 to 4 monthes since we have had a good old
"gripe session" about the cost of codes.  And, look...we are also going to
gripe about the cost of seminars too!  Oh, goodie.

Look, I am not saying that I don't understand why people complain.  Costs of
such things can be painful...especially for a one man (OK, person) shop or a
small firm.  Believe me, I understand.  While I do effectively work for a
rather large company, I basically operate like a one man shop.  I (little
ole me) pay for all my codes and textbooks (always have...and always
will...did not matter who I worked for).  I am a part-time employee in my
current role and I am basically an in-house consultant for all intents and
purposes (as opposed to an outside consultant).  I largely work from home
and only go into the office once a week or so.  The point is that like a one
man shop, I much purchase ALL my tools (software, codes, textbooks, etc).
Thus, I know the expense.  But, then I have ALWAYS bought my own codes,
texts, etc, even when I worked for large A/E firms full time and was in the
office 40 hour or more a week.  I looked at them as my tools that I needed
to do my job.  To a large degree, when working as such places, I could have
just used the company copies, but that was a pain...having to go find the
one or two copies, "swipe" one from the person who was using it, etc.  I
personally found it WELL worth spending my own money to have my own copy
right there that STAYED with me (unless I was nice enough to let someone
borrow it).

While I feel the pain and understand it, I also must point out that comments
like "What is the cost of an Internet conference? $15 What is the cost of
publishing cost of a PDF file design guide or code? $5" are at best
extremely naïve (and that is me being nice in my respopnse) to rather
incorrect.

First of all, to be more accurate, the publishing cost of a PDF will
generally NOT be just $5.  The only way you could get remotely close to that
cost is if the "all volunteer" group has their "secretary" create the PDF.
But, for the likes of ACI 318, ASCE 7, the MSJC (masonry code), etc, the
reality is that there are PAID staff who do the page layout, proofing, and
other "publishing" aspects of such codes.  And that work is NOT
insignificant.

You then have to realize that these organizations are businesses.  While
they are typically not-for-profit businesses, they are still businesses.
Not-for-profit does not mean "no costs" or "can magically produce good stuff
for free".  It costs money to do a lot of the stuff that these organizations
do.  And not all of that stuff that they do are money producing ventures.
Thus, they will have things that ARE money producing ventures that will pay
for thoes that are not.  This allows them to serve our profession with
things that otherwise would NOT be possible.  Thus, you pay a "respectible"
amount of money for the likes of ASCE 7, ACI 318, etc.

And then you have "webinars".  Sorry, but a webinar is more that just the
cost of an Internet connection.  There is also the cost of person "teaching"
the webinar.  If you do a little basic business and math, that cost alone
adds up.  Say the instructor has 1.5 hours of "face to face" time.  They
also need to prepare for that face to face time.  Let assume that for every
hour of face to face time, you have 2 to 3 hours of prep time.  So, you
could easily have a webinar instructor spending about 8 to 10 hours for a
1.5 hour webinar.  You are generally talking fairly experienced engineers
who do such webinars (after all, who would pay to see some recent graduate
teach something)...so you can be talking $125 an hour or greater for the
hourly rate that person might charge a client to work on their project, so
it is reasonable to say that they would charge that same amount for their
webinar time.  You are talking easily over $1000 just for that part of the
webinar.  And that does not even address the cost of renting or buying some
sort of webinar "software" or "interface" (just an "Internet connection" is
not enough).

And they you have the fact that again, the people doing webminar, seminars,
training, etc are businesses.  Everything that I said above about codes also
applies here.  And actually you can now also have some companies that get
into such a line of work who are for profit companies.

In the end, I am not saying that the prices are right or that some prices
for codes or seminars/webinars might not be to expensive.  But, the constant
comment about how you could do this or that for something like $5 or $15
typically glosses over an awful lot...and is no different that when some
client wonders why they need to pay YOU $75 an hour or more, when all you
will end up giving them is a bunch of paper that likely only costs at most
$5 to $20 to print out.

And so, now will we return to our regularly scheduled gripe fest.  Have fun.

Regards,

Scott
Adrian, MI

-----Original Message-----
From: David Merrick, SE [mailto:MRKGP(--nospam--at)winfirst.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 4:34 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Fees for Publications & Seminar



When the switch to the IBC was being announced, it seemed foreboding
that the photos of happy engineers looked allot like professional
models. Commercials

What is the cost of an internet conference? $15
What is the publishing cost of a PDF file design guide or code? $5

When most of the code handling was in California, publications and
seminar fees were seemingly the cost of housing the seminar, and
publishing costs were at the cost of printing. Costs depended on
professionals who volunteered their time, they were amply rewarded with
the professional recognition and were at the front for the best design
jobs. I am proud to be part of a professional organization, but without
the pricing similar to a driver's education class.

Discounts for multiple users has put more pressure on the small
engineer. Discounts favor the larger and better endowed design firm
owner. I understand that the small operator may, as a group, generate
more construction, by measurement of cost and by population of end
users. As a service to the public, this all seems counter productive.

David Merrick, SE





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