Get Nrdly Free Trial Built with Nrdly

Why Are My Paperback Books So “Expensive”?

At long last, I have finally updated all of my books to be available in paperback format with the updated covers and updated stories! Hallelujah!

This was a long time coming. I have a lot of readers who are fans, but would really prefer the paperback versions of my books. I also have a handful of friends who like to gift books, and they have gifted my books in the past, which is terribly nice of them.

But one thing stopping a lot of readers from picking up the paperback versions, I’m told, is that they are just too darned expensive.

I can sympathize with them. It’s actually one of the reasons I don’t buy paper books much anymore. I’m a Kindle reader, and I can get Kindle versions of books for relatively cheap. If I go to a bookstore, the average book there costs $24.95.

Take Framed, for example – the first book in my Hardwick series. It’s 279 pages long, and I can offer it via Kindle for $2.99. The reason behind that price is a balancing act between making money for me and saving money for readers.

Under Amazon’s current system, $2.99 is the minimum price I need to charge for the higher royalty rate. If I charge less than that, my royalty rate is cut down by more than half. Because I am running a business here, I do want to keep my royalty rate as high as I can get it.

At the same time, I can charge $2.99 because there’s virtually no overhead. Amazon takes their cut, but the cost of producing and delivering the book is essentially nothing. You buy the book, and a copy of the file is sent to your Kindle device instantly. Because of that, I can charge $2.99 and still have a healthy business model.

Now, let’s look at the paperback version.

In print format, Framed is a 284-page book. That’s a nice-sized book. In a bookstore, that’s easily a $25 book. So at $12.99, my thought process is that you’re already saving money.

But we also have to factor in two important differences to the Kindle version. First, Amazon has a different royalty rate for print books. It’s a little lower than what I am getting for my Kindle version. So that already is affecting how much I get in return.

And second – and more importantly – there’s a bunch of overhead here. Amazon is very upfront with the costs of printing and delivering the book. Because there are production costs involved (paper, binding, ink, handling, delivery), your profit is getting cut into right there. And Amazon takes their cut after this is taken out.

The end result? At $12.99, I only make a few bucks on each paperback. It’s virtually the same profit I get from selling the Kindle version.

Again, I try to balance out my prices, but there’s only so much I can do with the print version of the book. Amazon dictates their fees and they dictate the printing costs. Unless I’m interested in printing them myself and keeping a big box of them down in my basement in hopes that I’ll be able to sell them and make my money back, this is the best option.

Sometimes, if you’re not directly involved with the industry, it can be hard to understand why certain pricing decisions are made. True, some companies price things out just to see how much money they could make (Apple, I’m looking in your direction!). But for us independent publishers, we’re really trying to find the best possible price that makes the books worthwhile to write for us and worth buying for you.

And whether you own a Kindle or not, you’re getting as reduced of a price as I can reasonably offer. It still beats going to the bookstore.