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?