Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book pricing

Publishers are always arguing that print and distribution are very small parts of the expenses of making a book, so they have to price ebooks not far below the prices of paper books.

My first comment to this is that if print and distribution, which are a lot of money, are insignificant expenses to big publishers, then their expenses are wildly out of control. To make a good book you need the author's time, and a few thousand dollars for editing and design. You don't need a host of staff in an overpriced highrise on Manhattan. Then comes promotion, but publishers don't do that that anymore anyway.

My second is that the argument, very oddly, totally overlooks the fact that when you lower the price of something, you sell more of it. And in many cases you sell so much more of it that your profit grows. It's a whole science.

In fact it's impossible that the publishing industry is not aware of this simple fact, which tells me that they are using a disingenuous argument to try and keep their prices artificially high, like the CD industry managed to do with CDs for many years (15-20 bucks for a CD, woa).

I heard that many authors who have a book published by the very biggest houses (Random House for example) and who gets ads in NYT and the book in every Barnes And Noble in the country, still don't manage to sell even a thousand copies. So something is broken about the traditional model, they only survive on the few bestsellers, less than one in twenty I think.

The Net age is favouring the lean-and-mean independent. I'm a webtrepreneur and I am making a really good living, but only because I'm doing everything myself. I only work about half time, and I work from my office in my smaller bedroom. If I had had the idea that the only way to run a business was to have an office in town and acquire staff, then I'd be more stressed and very probably have less at the end of the day.

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