VIDEO SOFTWARE DEALERS ASSOCIATION CONVENTION

ENCINO, Calif. -- The Video Software Dealers Association here continues to prepare for its imminent convention, having switched to a winter show date in response to member surveys."We were surprised at how much the retailers chose January over July in Las Vegas," said VSDA President Bo Andersen, "with Las Vegas being their clear choice."The change enables the show, running Jan. 7 to 9 at the Venetian

ENCINO, Calif. -- The Video Software Dealers Association here continues to prepare for its imminent convention, having switched to a winter show date in response to member surveys.

"We were surprised at how much the retailers chose January over July in Las Vegas," said VSDA President Bo Andersen, "with Las Vegas being their clear choice."

The change enables the show, running Jan. 7 to 9 at the Venetian Hotel/Sands Expo Center, to coincide for the first time with the substantially larger Consumer Electronics Show, scheduled for Jan. 6 to 9 by the Consumer Electronics Association of Arlington, Va.

As a result there is added value for those who wish to participate. "Everyone who gets to the show and gets over to CES at the same time will feel that they have had a very full three or four days," Andersen said, "and will come away really advantaged in their orientation of their business."

This can benefit grocery attendees as well. "It's particularly fitting for supermarkets because I don't think they've gone to CES before, and it is one huge show," he said. "And yet they can keep a real focus on VHS and DVD in our event."

Some in supermarket video are already planning just that. "That's one of my real reasons for going this year, because I've never been to CES," said Mike Fuller, owner, Fuller's Supermarket, Greensboro, Ala. "They always manage to show all the latest and greatest gadgets."

Another distinction of this VSDA show is that it reaches an industry milestone. "For us this is an opportunity to celebrate 20 amazing years in home video," Andersen said.

The occasion will prompt "a little bit of reminiscing," said Andersen, who plans to address video history in his opening business session remarks. In addition there will be "a reception for 20 years of VSDA board members and leaders of the association."

Andersen's approach is one of "looking back in order to look forward," he said. "As we face digital delivery as a model that will grow, retailers will draw upon those 20 years to focus on how they're going to address it."

The balance between past and future is also reflected in the VSDA's choice of a keynote speaker. "As a counterpoint we'll have Jeff Bezos [founder and chief executive officer of Amazon.com], who will give a very modern look at the retailing of packaged goods," Andersen said. "So we'll look back, but you don't get more topical than Jeff Bezos."

Issues other than the digital transition will be aired at the trade show, which is a meeting place of ideas as well as a marketplace of products and services.

Among those issues are "content challenges that don't involve obscenity or adult product, but mainstream product that is being challenged for its violence," said Andersen, who will also include this topic in his address. "Indianapolis [where a city ordinance restricting minors' access to violent arcade games is being contested in court] is only the start. We have two reports out of the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] and we have Congress focusing on this in a couple of committees."

The show will also have updates on current business model components such as revenue sharing and the Warner Rental Direct program. "They are two major adjustments in our markets that retailers really need an intensive understanding of," he said.

The revenue-sharing focuses, including a four-hour session that will "get down to nitty-gritty analysis," are "key educational elements of the event" in Andersen's opinion.

The chief attraction, however, may be the next DVD SuperSession, which Andersen thinks "supermarkets will really enjoy." This event will again feature a panel of directors discussing DVD adaptations of their films.

All of this helps build an anticipatory mood as the show draws nearer, leading Andersen to predict that the sometimes rancorous atmospheres of past shows -- where attendees have been known to vent their frustrations rather forcefully -- will be left behind.