For pretty much as long as I can remember, the cost of CDs by the Beatles has been pretty stable – generally hovering around £15 per album (in shops, that is). It’s probably because they’re classics and perennial bestsellers, and it’s a good solid source of income for everyone involved. It’s also the reason I don’t have as many Beatles albums as I’d like.

Anyway, I was driven to think about this when I saw that one can now get the entire Monty Python TV series* for less than £16. Back when I was a teenage boy learning Python sketches off by heart instead of getting out in the sunshine or snogging girls, the VHS boxed sets of Python would set you back something in the region of £40 a series – so you’d probably be lucky to get the lot for less than £100 (though I know Mr Lomax got a decent deal on a set of all of them). And then they released the series on DVD recently, at about £15 a throw, which is way less than the VHS cost for a much better quality of image and sound. And then the deal linked above makes it possible to get all 45 episodes for £16. Presumably they’ll come out on Blu-Ray soon, and cost about £2.53, though for an extra tenner Eric Idle will come round and do your washing-up.

The same happened with Friends – the VHS tapes had 4 episodes per tape, and were about £10 each, so you’d be looking at something like £60 per series, or £600 for the whole run of the show. And now you can buy a boxed set of the DVDs for about £50. And it’s similar for The West Wing.

So, I’m rather bewildered; Python, Friends and The West Wing – which (I think it’s fair to say) are all still held in high esteem and rated as ‘classics’ of their genres – seem to have tumbled in cost over the years, and yet Beatles CDs – equally well-respected – don’t seem to have shifted much in price. And if it’s a question of the media involved (I can see how DVDs involve fewer working parts than a videotape), how can it be cheaper to produce a DVD than a CD? Less information, I would have thought. And why is it that boxed sets of The Wire are more like the Beatles CDs in cost? That doesn’t seem consistent.

Oh, my head hurts. Any of you good people have any idea why pricing seems to vary so much? I’m not being sarcastic or facetious here (for a change), I’d really like to know why it’s so unpredictable. If you can enlighten me, please use the Comment function to explain – words of one syllable are often best. Thanks.

*No, I’m not going to refer to it as Monty Python’s Flying Circus, because the acne-riddled teenage pedant in me is aware of the name change for Series 4. Oh yes.