I read a wonderful post on pricing books, thanks to the Kid Lit Blog Hop last month.  Julie Stroebel Barichello’s post ‘Thoughts on pricing children’s chapter books” explored what she did with her allowance when she was a kid, and the limitations of what she could buy with it when looking for books.

The trouble is getting a real feeling for what kids get as an allowance these days, and what they have to do with it.  The combination of region, relative wealth, and inflation mean that allowances seem much larger than they used to be.  Maybe they have to go further in this consumerist world.

We were expected to save for things.  I remember the joy of discovering it was only six weeks’ worth of saving to get something I really, really wanted. Books relied mainly on birthday and Christmas money or book tokens.  I remember getting book tokens that were just the right amount to get the latest Jill pony book.  And I’m also lucky that birthday is June, and Christmas is, well, I think you know that – anyway, I was in funds twice a year.  And like Julie Stroebel Barichello, there were always books I was saving for, eyeing in the shop window, wondering if it would still be there when I could afford it.  And that continued right up till I went to college – even Lord of the Rings was bought using that system – and it had to compete for saving for the next essential LP as well.

I used to send my nieces the equivalent of a CD or DVD for years, until I decided I could afford a little more.  But books… now are they more or less expensive?  Of course, it depends on the book.  But if you are buying children’s picture books, especially a series, the price can be enormous.  Maybe not as much as a video console, though.  And there we have the problem.    Why are books supposed to be cheap and video games cost a fortune?  Even worse, why do kids get given video games and not books?  Or am I mistaken in thinking that’s the case?

But I think it’s still something about choice and buying power.  So when I look at pricing books, which I have been for the last few months, with the paperback books of the Princelings of the East, and White Water Landings, and thinking forward to The Perihelix, I must remember not only the price of the titles they are competing with, but how much of their disposable income the readers might like to devote to books.

Of course, cost of production comes into pricing.  But if you look at my Princelings paperbacks, it won’t take a genius to work out that as Lost City is the longest so far, I’ve priced the later books to match it.  I also have to consider the UK price and the US price.  It seems to me that if I get the UK price right, the European price is on the low side, and the US one about right too.  If I start with the US price I can easily get too high for the UK market.

What do you think?

Books and buying power
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21 thoughts on “Books and buying power

  • 5 October, 2015 at 10:02 am

    It can be a tricky one, pricing for the UK because they UK is lower only works until the GDP changes. It’s one of those things you have to keep your eye on me thinks.

    • 5 October, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Yes, you’re right. But in some ways you just have to compare with what the ‘opposition’ is doing. I look at Percy Jackson books and think, I can’t afford that because it’s the film tie-in price. But one pound more I can afford, and that fits with others that aren’t in the film realm yet.

      • 5 October, 2015 at 7:42 pm

        It can be a tricky thing indeed. Something that can only be learned by trial and error, or in my case mostly error.

  • 5 October, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    I still have some childhood hardbacks on my shelf that cost 2s 6d! My advice is charge more than that 😉

    • 6 October, 2015 at 9:33 am

      Lol! I think my cheapest is 7/6! It was an issue when I worked in a charity shop that concentrated on second hand books – some people (generally older men) complained if they were asked to pay 50p for a book that was originally 7/6 (37.5p). Some just did it for fun, but a few were serious (sigh).

  • 5 October, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Dang–I commented via my iPad which proceeded to eat the comment (I should know better–that thing only sort of works).

    I tend to price more from the other end–what I think I should make from my work, though I also pay attention of course to what the going prices are. I haven’t thought much about international prices–just use the automatic matching, which I do realize isn’t really a match, since the amount I make does vary (and that doesn’t even take into consideration purchasing power of different currencies in different countries).

    I didn’t buy books until I was a teen with an income (I’d better not say how young–wouldn’t want anyone to get in trouble for child labor!). Until then, it was the library all the way.

    • 6 October, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Well, the market we’re in also comes into play – I mean is price the biggest issue on our books or is it simply discoverability?

      Sorry about comment edibility. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, for me too.

      • 6 October, 2015 at 3:12 pm

        Never seems to happen when I use the computer, only the tablet, which is wonky in any case :).

        Price vs discoverability…yeah, having the right price is pointless if no one knows 🙂

  • 5 October, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    You make a good point about the video games and books. Video games take a long time to make and have lots of people, so I can see the price, but so do books! The team working on it may be smaller, but it can take just as long.

    • 6 October, 2015 at 9:36 am

      Yes, I suppose that is true. And since my cover illustrator is now in video games design, I should be pushing the price of her work!

      • 6 October, 2015 at 3:15 pm

        There is anoth element….people will pay more for a video game because they expect to play it over and over. Most people expect to read a book only once. But compare to a movie, which around here costs a lot more than my paperbacks, and lasts less time.

  • 6 October, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    A good post to remind me to have a sale of my books for a few days. Also, please forgive your addle-brained blogging friend – I posted the blog hop today, missing my date for god-know-what reason. Mea culpa!

    • 6 October, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      You’ve caught up now, Noelle – no problem. Sale sounds good 😉

  • 7 October, 2015 at 2:51 am

    All this is very good info for me, Jemima. Bookmarking it.

    • 7 October, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      Thanks, Damyanti 🙂

  • 7 October, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    A good book will still be on the shelf in years to come and can be passed down from generation to generation – unlike a video game. If the book has the potential to be a classic I would be prepared to pay more.

    Hopping over from the Kid Lit Blog Hop

    • 9 October, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks, Catherine! I certainly still have books from my childhood – and those of my aunts!

  • 12 October, 2015 at 1:44 am

    I put books on Gigi’s christmas list and without fail, the family buy her the video game options, because they can get the quickly and at Kmart. It frustrates me greatly, as I would prefer her to have books. I have taken to sending my nieces and nephews books from Amazon Uk, as so much cheaper and shipping cheaper. When it comes to pricing my own books, I despair, as the margin I gain with a distributor is so minimal, but my aim is exposure…..

    • 12 October, 2015 at 9:53 am

      Oh, that must be so frustrating. I used to think I was a wicked ungrateful child because I ‘nearly’ got what I wanted for Christmas, but it wasn’t what I wanted at all. Then I worked with a colleague who was the nicest person out, and she felt exactly the same way!

      Exposure is the name of the game for us, and you certainly get out and about to get more exposure. At least we can control the margins to some extent. If they buy the Lost City paperback I’ll earn about 1p, but if they buy that, they’ll probably continue with the rest of the series. I hope.

  • 18 October, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Very interesting post. I too have had a hard time with pricing. It seems if I price the US one reasonably the pricing for other countries is out of wack. It seems like a never ending struggle.

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