Self-Publishers: Pricing for Hardbacks
by Stella Atrium
I went to purchase the textbook for a freshman course to write a
syllabus for fall term. I know textbooks are obscenely overpriced, so
I was expecting to pay $35. The university bookstore wanted $65 for
the reader and $87 for the handbook. I was appalled at the greed.
These books were required and guaranteed to sell, so where's the risk
to the publisher that justifies a higher retail price?
By comparison, for those of you who only open free ebooks, I bought a handbook for Wordpress online for $35 – but it teaches how to use Wordpress!
a friend was moving to another state and giving away whatever he was
not willing to drag along. In the pile was a complete set of hardback copies of Harry Potter,
except Book 3 was missing. I asked him about Book 3 and he said the
cat threw up on it. The set has no value if it’s not complete. It’s an
artifact of history more than a repository of the living truth.
I was young – in the previous century – I owned Norton editions of
university books that we treasured and displayed to show our smarts. I
held onto the valuable ones such as Martin Esslin’s Theater of the Absurd. The price printed on the back (I just looked) is $14, which I’m certain I thought was outrageous at the time.
Book publishers are experiencing hard times, and we should feel bad for them, right? Just like we should feel bad for Usher and JayZ because new singles are available on iTunes for 99¢.
publishers are pricing themselves out of business. They set the retail
price high so Amazon can offer a discount, and so publishers get the
investment back from the naïve author who buys HIS OWN book for HIS OWN
No wonder epub is expanding and Smashwords is a global marketplace. My
point of view is that publishers get what they deserve. I know this
stance doesn’t make me popular, but I’m not the one who set hardcover
copies of my fantasy novel at $32.95. Not a soul in the world will pay
that, especially since the ebook is listed on Amazon at $5.28.
didn’t want to print hardback copies of the fantasy novel, and argued
with the publisher to drop that option, but hardbacks were included in
Supposedly, the existence of the hardback version of my novel makes me a legitimate writer. Raspberries.
I lost the argument, and Amazon
is winning the conflict. The writer waits on the sidelines for sanity
to return to the marketplace. But then, I’m also waiting for my
balloon mortgage payments to be ameliorated.
I'm a writer, and I
want the publishing industry to succeed. I want the consumer to believe
he got a good deal, and to become a fan, and to buy the next book in
But I hang my head these days when I see how each
group grabs profits at the expense of the very people who should be
partners or colleagues. Is this any way to run a business?
I'm called cynical at the dinner table. Am I the only one?