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oldsport

Can a book be too cheap?

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This might sound a bit left-field.

I know nothing about books!

Basically, a good friend of mine is self-publishing a non-fiction book - a paperback - just under 300 pages. He's had the advance copy and everyone who's checked it says it looks amazing. But everyone who has read it has also asked why is it so cheap? The publisher suggested the price. It has to be ordered through the publisher and with delivery will cost just under £13. That sounds quite a lot to me. Anyway, my friend is really concerned that people might be put off buying because it's too cheap. He doesn't care about making any money - he's just really interested in the topic.

Anyway, I thought I'd ask for some opinions from people on here.

 

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It would depend on what it is.  A fiction book will be cheaper as the expectation is that it will sell a lot of copy. Nonfiction can be written for a small niche market. The assumption then is that fewer copies will be sold and so the price of each will be higher.  

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1 minute ago, One-percent said:

It would depend on what it is.  A fiction book will be cheaper as the expectation is that it will sell a lot of copy. Nonfiction can be written for a small niche market. The assumption then is that fewer copies will be sold and so the price of each will be higher.  

But might anyone actually be put off buying because it seemed too cheap?

That would be a bonus to me!

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It wouldn't put me off necessarily. It would depend on what it was and what aspects were covered in the book.  The blurb that accompanies it will be far more important than price I would think.  

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I've read a few expensive university text books that were complete rubbish, it would nt put me off.  But if selling via Amazon I would give away sample chapters etc. to show what the reader is getting.

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Anything can be too cheap.  Pricing sets expectations; if you price cheap, people will expect cheap content -- if a given person wants a higher quality they'll choose the more expensive product.

Sounds stupid, but it is right 90% of the time.

Also, for any product you should do a sort of 'sales vs price' prediction -- cheaper price, more sales but less profit.  You price at the point of highest total profit.  For a first book this could be difficult to work out, but that is what agents are for.

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16 minutes ago, DTMark said:

I've never considered there to be any particular relationship between the price of a book, and how good it is.

But you're a discerning buyer.  There aren't many of them.

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20 minutes ago, happy_renting said:

Price books by the Kg like food in supermarkets.

Funnily enough, I've known buyers for the book shops in Hay on Wye -- that is how they buy their books...

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3 hours ago, dgul said:

Funnily enough, I've known buyers for the book shops in Hay on Wye -- that is how they buy their books...

I'll have 50 kG of books please. I desire to read. But paintings often sell, priced by the surface area.:huh:

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7 hours ago, SarahBell said:

why do they think it is too cheap? 

 

That is a an excellent question!

I'm not sure - will ask him for more detail on the feedback he's had.

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Really depends on the book. A reference book on brain surgery for surgeons? £13 possibly is too cheap, if every other text in the field is £60+.  Similarly, many academic books can add some authority with price and branding. This is how Penguin can knock out classics at £7+, when the same text  can be easily obtained for £1 or so (or less if electronic).  There's also an exclusivity factor - if the book is promising the secret sauce, it should be priced accordingly (see books for professional magicians). 

 

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14 hours ago, hotairmail said:

Specialist info - price very high. Go for the intrigue market. Don't want to miss out.

Yes. Back in the very early 1970's I typed up some of the geological survey and exploration gumph for North Sea Oil. I can't remember exactly but I think there was 12 volumes in all at a cost of £120k+ for the series. But they were nicely leather bound and gold tooled :P. Can't tell you how many times I typed the word Jurassic, it was really boring stuff but I was too young to understand the significance of it. :wacko: So yes, specialist info - very pricey.

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It's very subjective, I have books that I was quite happy to pay £50+ for because I knew the Author was very experienced in what they were writing about and there are books I've paid £3.99 for and felt like I had wasted both time and money. Basically, the price of a book should reflect it's value (Books that have already delivered a healthy ROI for both Author and Publisher are exempt from this rule though IMO). For your friend to get a true value of the book they need to judge it's content to similar Authors publications and see where it stands in comparison. If people are already saying that it is being sold too cheaply then they are probably right. Specialist reading should start off on the expensive side since specialists are going to see the most value in it. Over time they should drop the price only as sales start to die down as a lower price point will then entice the people with a less dedicated interest into picking it up and giving it a go.

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....most cookery books two a 1p....fiction books can be read many times, swapped many times, print run many times...old encyclopedias and technical books that soon become out of date worth nothing, lots of up-to-date stuff on tinternet now.......specialist books where only a few are ever printed worth more.......bought a book in a charity shop for 50p and saw only ever one print run, on sale for £65 elsewhere.....what it costs has no relevance on how good the book is mind.....the 50p worth £65 was good though.;)

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On 02/02/2017 at 3:45 PM, oldsport said:

...But everyone who has read it has also asked why is it so cheap? The publisher suggested the price. It has to be ordered through the publisher and with delivery will cost just under £13. That sounds quite a lot to me. Anyway, my friend is really concerned that people might be put off buying because it's too cheap. ...

I give a lot away for free on my blog but when it came to my book I decided to charge.  The reason was that my book is about building significant wealth (so non-fiction like your friend) and I was concerned that I'd end up confused with or positioned amongst get rich quick type schemes which I most certainly am not.  You know the type - highly leveraged BTL or sit at home in your underpants on your computer and earn $1M for 4 hours work - where the modus operandi seems to be give something away for free to entice the punters in then hit them up for a very expensive book or training course.

I'm trying to get maximum readership and so I've played around with my prices.  Right now I'm at £4.99 for an ebook or £7.99 for a paperback which is resulting in a steady flow of purchases.  Right now I have 200 sales in a little under 2 months and I make about £3 per book.  £600 (before tax) is insignificant in the grand scheme of things but I hope it's differentiated me enough that those looking for a journey like mine will find it amongst the dross. 

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Well, if the RRP is £13 it will end up on Amazon for about £7 and by the time Amazon, the publishers et al have taken their money your friend might have very little to show for it.

A friend of mine wrote a book in a very niche subject a few years back but it was a subject with tremendous public interest. Myself and friends implored her to self-publish but she was of the mindset to go down the agent and publisher route. To cut a long story short her book had an RRP of about £15 and ended up for about £9 on Amazon.

By the time Amazon, the publisher and the agent took their cut my friend made very little money. The book actually made in the 6 figures but going the old-fashioned way cost my friend dramatically in earnings.

My friend also did lots of bookshop signings but there was no real money to be made there. Ended up doing a talk at each signing and then, by the time expensese of travelling to each place was taken into account, it was not worth it.

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In the few commercial magazine articles I have written, I got paid by the word.

The length, eloquency, lucidity, appropriateness, relevance, poetry, or relevance of each word had no effect on the price.

 

Sneaking in repeated words earned me a little bit more though.

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12 hours ago, happy_renting said:

Sneaking in repeated words earned me a little bit more though.

Wouldn't do you much good as a strategy on Radio 4's "Just A Minute" though would it...?

You just don't think these things through renty mate...

;)

 

XYY

                                                                                                               

The dog's kennel is not the place to keep a sausage - Danish proverb

 

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