The Price of Books

I was having lunch with a friend who works in publishing the other day, and commented that I thought that books were expensive – in comparison to say, big screen televisions. She disagreed and pointed out that the price of books mirrored their competition; things like DVDs and CDs. And she’s probably right. The problem is that a whole bunch of people haven’t bought a DVD or a CD in a very long time and are getting used to a world in which the price of iphones halves every six months or so, and people argue that 99 cents is too much to pay for a game for that device that will entertain you for hours.

It’s in that light that I mention a little teacup storm that has brewed over Borders and Angus and Robertson charging *above* recommended price for books. A Sydney Morning Herald article  details the practice which seems to consist of the big bookstore charging what they can for popular titles and being more generous with others:

In an intensification of a practice now common at Borders and Angus & Robertson, both part of the A&R Whitcoulls Group, a significant proportion of books are about 10 per cent above the recommended retail price, while others are substantially below it.

Terry Pratchett’s The Illustrated Wee Free Men, for instance, is advertised at $49.50, when the RRP is $45. In contrast, Pratchett’s Nation is $32.95, while the RRP is $49.95. Dymocks, like most booksellers, is selling both for the RRP.

Of course, RRP is just that. Recommended. And bookbuyers, like all other actors in this grand capitalist marketplace need to beware. On the other hand, if other industries are anything to go by, booksellers and publishers also need to be careful. Easy, illegitimate distribution might be difficult in a world of print (one reason why digital is resisted) but when it comes, it’ll be the buyers that set the price, not the sellers.

1 comment so far

  1. Ja-young, Kim on

    I am Korean reader. I read your book.
    I received help through your book.
    My occupation is book-editor.
    Sometimes I am publisher.
    I wish understand through ‘’ about you and the book.
    Thank you.

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