[HNW] Book cover prices

Lavolta Press fran at lavoltapress.com
Sat Jun 30 16:05:27 PDT 2007

If, like the Soup for
> the Qan book, the idiot publisher puts a price of $225 on a book (the
> Authors have NEVER seen a dime from this book) very few books will be sold
> except to libraries (if that) and the publisher grandly points to the sales
> figures to show that no one is interested is such stuff.

Ah yes, I forgot to discuss cover prices (also known as list prices).

Cover prices are usually set by doing a multiple of five to eight times 
the unit production cost--and then adjusting the price to suit other 
factors. Production costs are usually considered to include all of the 
printing plant costs, plus often some or all of the pre-printing 
production costs.  They often do not include editorial costs, or the 
author's royalties. The costs included vary from publisher to publisher. 
Anyway, printer quotes are obtained to determine the cost for several 
different sizes of print run. The larger the print run, the lower the 
unit cost.  But a huge print run, however low it may render the unit 
cost, is a waste of money if more books are printed than are likely to 
sell in a reasonable time frame (for large publishers this is considered 
to be a year or two).  The final factor to be considered is the cover 
prices of similar books.

The publisher has to make a profit with the deepest discount they give 
to the highest level of middleman, so all the above is juggled until a 
feasible cover price is reached. Sometimes the design or content of the 
book is changed to lower the price, or to make a higher price more 
worthwhile to readers.

As for audiences--It is not true that lowering the price of a book means 
that significantly more copies will be sold. Some books are very tightly 
targeted. While that means the audience is easier to research, to count, 
and to inform about the book, it also usually means that it's very 
small. Such books are almost never blockbusters, no matter how good they 
are, what their cover price is, or how energetically they are marketed. 
There are many specialized books whose cover price you could reduce from 
$50 to $1 and still not sell appreciably more copies--certainly not 
nearly enough to make up for the reduction in the price.  Some academic 
books and journals are published primarily for the library market, 
because even most specialists in those fields would not want to own the 
book enough to pay a cover price that would cover production costs. 
Libraries, on the other hand, can be a very reliable and identifiable 
market for such books, so many academic publishers rely heavily on 
library sales.

Usually, publishers know what they are doing when they price a book. 
They try as hard as possible to research the market before even signing 
a contract for the book. And they try as hard as possible to determine a 
cover price that will both sell the books, and enable them to make a 
profit.  Many hours of research and thought go into both--plus, usually, 
the publisher's experience with previous books.

Lavolta Press

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