The Cost of Books

Yesterday, I was tripping around the Internet, buzzing in and out of different websites looking for ideas for today’s blog. And there it was–staring out at me from the amazon.com pages–a comment about why book prices were so high.

As with everything, prices keep spiraling upward. They are not going to come down. Unfortunately, there are many who keep living in the past and somehow, they have lost the connection between the cost of a product today, and the cost for the same product 20, 30, or 40 years ago. In their minds, they are still living in 1967 or whenever.

Most publishers use a formula to determine the cost of a book based on the number of pages. Production costs are what they are; to this, publishers have to make allotments for other costs, such as the royalty payment to the author, shipping costs, advertising costs, and more.

This is what drives the cost of a book and other products and it is understandable some will balk at higher prices on today’s market. The truth of the matter is that costs are always going to increase and they are never going to go down.

When it comes to books and other written matter, many believe words should be free. They honestly believe writers should do what they do because they like doing it and the money is not important.

Writers and publishers, just like everyone else, must pay their bills. They are not rich, the way some would believe. The majority of writers and publishers are making a living somewhere between the poverty line and somewhere south of “excess.” Most work “day jobs” just to get by. For them, writing books is a business filled with planning, paying the bills, money management, and as with most in America, a great number are “just getting by.”

Unless the writer’s last name is something like Grisham, Brown (as in Dan), Christie, or Robbins, they are probably going to make just a pittance with their book or books. Writing for them is a lifelong dream, a dream they continue to pursue regardless of the cost. Or the lack of recompense. It is work from the heart, and as such, is priceless.

In the business world, however, businesses will tender bills and demand payments. This requires setting price points, which for many of the public will be too high. Particularly in the older generations who remember the days when prices were considerably lower.

Those days, unfortunately, are long gone.

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©2011 J. Clark

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2 Responses to The Cost of Books

  1. Harrison says:

    All good points, Joe. Inflation is a fact of life, even though the government denies it. However, I find books to be a great value compared to other forms of entertainment. For instance, the cost of a movie is about the same if you take a date. The movie lasts two hours and then your investment is gone. The book lasts much longer and can entertain as many people as you choose. The best news is, you can sell the book and recover a portion of your hard earned money. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    • Joe Clark says:

      Right you are, Harrison. I would like to go back to the days when I could rent Charlie’s Cubs for $7 an hour. (But can I keep my salary from today?)

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