Cover Snapshot of Read Books

Sara's bookshelf: read

Crazy Little Thing
A Kiss at Midnight
The Disenchanted Widow
Hollywood Wives - The New Generation
There Goes the Bride
Table for Five
Do Not Disturb
The Husband's Secret
The Ugly Duchess
Help for the Haunted
The Power Trip
The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Summer At Willow Lake
Every Crooked Nanny
The Mystery Woman
The Woodcutter
How to Be an American Housewife

Sara's favorite books »

Friday, February 25, 2011

Upward Trend: Paperback Book Prices

Despite this digital age, and I fear even sharing this sentiment, paperbacks remain my favorite book format. Unfortunately, within the last few months I have noticed that the cost of each and every paperback (no matter how small) has increased in price by $2. Every paperback is now $7.99 where they used to be $5.99. Also I have noticed Trade Paperbacks (those larger size-paperbacks) have increased too—those that used to cost $12 to $14 now cost $15. Yikes!

And what about those “Classics”? Well, I recently went on a quest for The Sun Also Rises (paperback) and was extremely disappointed. There were no (none, nada, zip) paperbacks which would have listed at $7.99—oh no, all that existed were trade paperbacks for $15. Oh my!

I haven’t been able to determine why paperbacks have increased; there are no search results in Google (well, no relevant results). In my opinion, now is not the time to increase paperback prices. I have less and less money to spend on books right now. My family income has decreased and we make less than we did three years ago—this equates to less disposable income which in turn means less money to buy books.

And while I know there has been an increase in e-readership, I would want to see the reasoning behind the price increase and correlation. How many readers would have purchased paperbacks but now purchase e-books? And, have those said readers given up paper books in their entirety? Conversely, isn’t it cheaper to stock, publish, and deliver e-books?

Dear Publisher?/Bookstore?/Economy?/E-Readers? Whoever you are… I am left disappointed and with less disposable cash to spend on my beloved paperbacks.


  1. I agree. It is frustrating that prices have gone up. I also dislike the e format of books and find it is a more expensive way to read. And, you can't share e books. Alissa

  2. I can't picture ever giving up paper books. Perhaps the price increase is due to e-readers. But I pray they never become the "norm". You can't use an eReader in a bubble bath. An e-reader doesn't have pages to turn, or smell. I don't imagine you can easily find a previous place in an e-reader just by going, "I know it was in the first third of the book somewhere around....this thickness," or flip through the pages skimming ahead or backwards.

    What's really disheartening is finding an old copy of a book that was $2.99 or less. Or in the cases of paperbacks that were my parents' original purchases, around 50 cents! Even so, I agree the prices have jumped so rapidly recently!

  3. Sara, I posted the info I sent you... and then Google had an error when I logged in and wiped my comment. Argh! I'm going to try to recreate it, but I may end up trying to post about this on my blog instead.

  4. I haven't paid retail price for a book in ages, behavior which I suspect has more impact on pricing than ebooks. For instance, a recently released hardcover fantasy novel that I want lists for $29.95. All the ebook editions are $14.99, but Amazon and Barnes & Noble list the hardcover online for $15.59 and $15.76, respectively. The ebook price (which is typical for new hardcover releases) is not a great savings compared to online, but why, with all those options quickly available to me would I go to a store to pay $30?!

    But you asked me to post some basics from my 5 years working for a major chain bookstore, so here's some info:

    Brick & mortar bookstores make 70% of their money from bestselling authors, mostly new hardcovers and mass market paperback back list. Hence why bestsellers in MM are commonly $9.99 now, not $7.99 like most others (20% markup, all profit!). The typical markup on a hardcover or trade paperback is 30-40%, with MM being less (my estimate is about 20%, but I can't verify that). Never, ever think that you're getting away with something when you get a "bestseller" for 30% off plus 10% with your "discount" card; at worst, the store is breaking even and you probably bought something else while you were there. As a side note, I don't think anything's wrong with that. Stores aren't trying to deceive you; they need to make money to employ people and continue to offer their goods/services.

    But in the mean time, ebooks are changing things about pricing: namely, they're showing readers that publishers have been gouging them for decades. A little Google research brought up this very long article about the fights between authors, publishers, retailers, and readers over pricing. Ebooks are forcing the system to become more transparent and creating smarter consumers.

    The bottom line is that when you buy cheaper instead of going along with higher prices, it forces companies to realize that the old system no longer works. Hopefully that's good for us all in the long run.

    Wow, this ran longer than I thought. I may post on my blog about this soon. :-)

  5. Thanks Peregrine, I appreciate your comments and insight. Alissa, I agree--I love to trade books with family and friends. Jennifer, I agree--they just aren't the same.