A Question About Book Prices?

So I am packing. Specifically I am packing books, today. My husband and I both began our careers in book publishing. In fact, that is how we met. We both have a love for the printed word and for the book as an object…so we have a lot of books. New. Old. Rare. Common. Illustrated. Fiction (mine).  Non-fiction (his). Children’s. Lots and lots.

Both my husband and I like to cook, so we have a lot of cookery books as well. Including one of my all-time favorites: Molly O’Neill’s New York Cookbook. I received this as a complimentary copy when I was working at my first post-college job at Workman Publishing. That Blackout Cake is my (grown up) go-to birthday cake recipe. My salary was $18,500 per year (which I was thrilled to get!) and I was sharing the top floor of a brownstone with two friends in Park Slope, Brooklyn (before it became what it is today).

The year was 1992 and even then, I needed to work weekends at the local bookstore, Community Bookstore on 7th Avenue, just to make my rent and meet my meager living expenses.

So, why the nostalgia?  Well, I was packing up my cookbooks and as I placed my well-used copy of New York Cookbook into a box, I stopped to reflect for a few minutes upon the apartments and houses this cookbook has resided in and the number of times I have packed this book (it has crossed the country and the Atlantic numerous times) and what this book has actually ‘cost me’ in moves alone.  In the year I acquired this book, it was worth $17.95. And I’ve come a long way, baby! But why haven’t you, New York Cookbook?

Today, this book is selling new on Amazon for…

$18.95 retail but $12.70 at Amazon’s discounted price. One dollar more 20 years later.

Part of what I do in my current job, is help decide on retail prices for our books, and as I pack up this book again to move for a wonderful opportunity to further my 20 year book publishing career, I paused before I put this New York Cookbook in the box. While this particular copy is worth a lot to me for reasons both practical and sentimental, I just cannot believe that today, this book is only worth one dollar more than it was 20 years ago.

Now, I am no finance expert, but I don’t think you would find any college graduate willing to work for $18,500 per year these days. I also don’t know a whole lot about the consumer price index, but I do know that over the past 20 years the cost of living has gone up a whole lot more that the 6ish% increase this book has seen reflected in its retail price.

What’s up with that?

While the book industry is experiencing enormous flux with exciting digital innovations and advancements being announced almost daily, I have to admit that my stomach sinks a little bit to see the stagnation (possibly even the erosion) of the value of the content (whether you read digitally on a Kindle, Nook, iPad etc. or read a physical book). Because content consists of ideas and ideas are important. They are invaluable. They have the power to change one moment, one life, one family, one community and more! And authors should be rewarded for that. Financially and otherwise.

I am sure that there are a lot of items that haven’t seen a huge increase in retail price over the years (certainly not gas, food, clothes and a bunch of other things that I have been buying weekly over the past 20 years…), but I just don’t get it.

Any retail price asks their consumer: How important is this to you compared to how much it cost to produce weighted against how many people might want it? Production costs for books have certainly gone up, so why not the price? Consumer resistance, industry reluctance to change, too many choices? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure.

But as I sealed the top of the box with tape and moved that box of much loved cookery books into my ‘ship’ pile, my answer has a lot to do with the quality of ideas this book holds within its pages. And as I go through all the objects in my house and decide whether they are ‘shipping worthy’ whether I want to pay again to ship this item or that, when I look at my bookshelves there is very little questioning.

Ideas are worth a lot to me. So is inspiration. Physical books make these ideas and inspirations tangible, as if the physical presence of them means that you are one step closer to the secrets, solace, and the power they hold within their pages. And you are. If you surround yourself with physical books, I think that you subconsciously surround yourself with possibility, you remind yourself of your potential to learn in a way that accessing digital information just cannot do. It is too easy to ignore and to forget and to disengage. Can’t you tell?

I literally, do not think I could live without them. Call me a dinosaur, but for me, my kids, my family I will gladly pay the price again and again to take those ideas and that inspiration with me wherever I go..so that I can see them every day and remind myself, my kids, my family of the ideas and inspirations I/they/we were exposed to from reading those tangible…beautiful…valuable things.

About Susanne

I am a small business owner, a mother, a crafter and the Editorial Director at a craft book publisher. Opinions and thoughts are mine alone. If you would like to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you at susannewoods at hotmail dot com.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

87 Responses to A Question About Book Prices?

  1. Pingback: Window Tint

  2. I believe this is among the most vital information for me.
    And i am satisfied studying your article. However want to observation on some general
    things, The site taste is ideal, the articles is actually excellent :
    D. Excellent activity, cheers

  3. Pingback: corporate social responsibility definition

  4. Pingback: Ace Golf Netting

  5. Pingback: Explaindio

  6. link says:

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually suppose this lotopyeer website needs rather more consideration. I’ll probably be once more to learn much more, thanks for that info.

  7. Pingback: stained concrete - austin

  8. Truly when someone doesn’t understand then its
    up to other visitors that they will assist, so here it takes place.

    My webpage bail bonds glendale

  9. Pingback: established austin carpet cleaners

  10. Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this website needs much more consideration. I’ll probably be again to read much more, thanks for that info.

  11. Pingback: Payday Loans

  12. I¡¦ve been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or weblog posts on this sort of space . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this web site. Studying this information So i¡¦m glad to convey that I have an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered just what I needed. I most undoubtedly will make sure to don¡¦t omit this website and give it a glance regularly.

  13. These are truly enormous ideas in regarding blogging.
    You have touched some fastidious factors here.
    Any way keep up wrinting.

  14. Pingback: Jual Gerinda tangan murah

  15. I’ve been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

  16. Thanks so much for providing individuals with an exceptionally brilliant possiblity to read from this blog. It’s usually very great and also full of amusement for me and my office fellow workers to search your blog more than thrice in one week to read through the latest things you have got. Not to mention, we are at all times pleased with your beautiful solutions served by you. Selected 2 tips on this page are ultimately the very best I’ve ever had.

  17. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative.
    I’m gonna watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future.
    Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  18. The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

  19. Pingback: Trendfolgende Indikatoren fur BOs

  20. Pingback: Quality Foundation Repair

  21. Pingback: Reliant Plumbing

  22. Pingback: Quality Foundation Repair

  23. Pingback: Ace Roofing Company

  24. smartphones says:

    Thanks , I’ve recently been searching for information about this topic for ages and yours is the best I have discovered till now. But, what concerning the bottom line? Are you sure in regards to the source?

  25. Hiya, I’m really glad I’ve found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossips and internet and this is really irritating. A good blog with exciting content, that is what I need. Thanks for keeping this web-site, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can not find it.

  26. Pingback: Tree services leicester

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>