[DWJ] OT: book pricing

rohina at shaw.ca rohina at shaw.ca
Fri Jun 23 01:59:30 EDT 2006

See, I've heard this discussion before, and I still don't believe it. I 
think a lot of these reasons are convenient, rather than fact. I used to 
buy hardcover books in Australia all the time, and some of them were 
even - shock, horror! By Australian authors. I think maybe the reasons 
account for a percentage of the price, but a good chunk of it is also 

As an academic, I was absolutely astounded when I first came to Canada, 
and book reps started plying me with books. In the past, I had to buy my 
own textbooks for courses I was teaching, let alone being able to just 
say "I'm thinking about using this, can I have a copy." However, when I 
talked to a rep about whether a book would be available for a friend in 
Melbourne who wanted to teach it, she got the contact info for the rep 
there, and my friend got an evaluation copy. I found that very 
interesting indeed; clearly it was expectation rather than company policy.


Emma Comerford wrote:

> Ah ha, thank-you! I had guessed the problems that Aussie publishers 
> were likely to face with our smaller market but I didn't know point 2 
> about the hardcover profit thing in the US.
> I've now found a friend in the US who is going to post me books, which 
> makes it even cheaper to get the ones I want - they would be same 
> quality either way as they're imported. I'm happy to keep buying my 
> normal paperbacks here but those $33 paperbacks are just too expensive.
> Emma
> At 11:51 AM 23/06/2006, LWilkinson at slv.vic.gov.au wrote:
>> The book pricing thing has several reasons.
>> 1. is what Sally said, the unit costs are much, much higher here.
>> 2. books in the US tend to be published in hardcover first (where 
>> they make
>> all the money) and then a mass-market paperback. in australia, it's very
>> rare for a book to be published in hardcover. if it's very special, 
>> it will
>> go to a trade paperback before an ordinary paperback, but more often 
>> than
>> not, it just goes straight to paperback (like The Da Vinci Code: that 
>> came
>> straight out in paperback here when it was published
>> however-many-years-ago)
>> 3. US mass-market paperbacks are usually pretty horrendous quality. 
>> we get
>> a few imports, and the difference in quality is astounding. the US 
>> PBs are
>> often on cheap, thin paper with small print and crappy binding that 
>> falls
>> apart after one read.
>> 4. big chains like KMart and BigW are forcing publishers to lower their
>> discount rate, which means they have to hike prices.
>> 5. people are importing their books from OS, so it's harder for the
>> publishers to make a profit at lower prices.
>> For anyone that's interested in that sort of thing, there is a really,
>> really interesting discussion of P&L calculations (profit and loss) 
>> on US
>> books here:
>> Part One
>> http://alg.livejournal.com/84032.html
>> Part Two
>> http://alg.livejournal.com/89781.html
>> Lili Wilkinson
>> Web Project Manager & Event Coordinator
>> Centre for Youth Literature
>> State Library of Victoria
>> 328 Swanston Street
>> Melbourne VIC 3000
>> PH: 03 86647014
>> FAX: 03 96394143
>> http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/readalert/
>> http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/youthlit/
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