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Old 07-03-2012, 07:58 AM   #1
jbcohen
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Rise in paperback prices

No, this is not another discussion about how electronic books are frequently priced higher then their printed cousins, what I want to discuss here is the rise in printed paperback prices. First let me set the stage for what I am talking about:

Many years ago I used to shop in Crown Books becuase they always discounted all books under the prices of the MSRP. Since the closing of Crown Books I then went to shop at the two newcommers in my neighborhoods - Barns and Nobels and Borders and I saw the introduction of premuim paperbacks. I never really saw any value that I obtained, as a customer, for the extra price of the premium paperbacks so I avoided all of them. Since I have seen paperbacks gone from $8 to a range of $10 to sometiems $13 and prices seem to be going to the point where paperbacks and hardbacks will cost the same thing.

This does not include the prices of electronic books, I am talking about strictly the prices of printed books. My question that I want to discuss here is: what is driving the increase in prices of paperbacks? Do you see anything value added to the content of paperbacks to compensate us the customers for the increased price of the paperbacks?

I generally find that its the bestsellers and the popular authors whose prices seem to be increasing, since I tend to read the less well known and under-appreciated authors I was avoiding these books, which only set the stage for a move to electronic books.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:46 AM   #2
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Are you just talking about the price of printed books in brick-and-mortar bookshops or including how much the paperback costs online at Amazon?

Maintaining a brick and mortar shop is increasingly difficult -- even Borders couldn't last. Amazon is probably one of the main reasons for that, and I'm not just talking Kindle, I'm talking about their ability to undercut prices on everything. So it might be that shops HAVE to charge more because otherwise they won't break even.

Just one theory. Interested to hear others' thoughts...
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:52 AM   #3
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I'm so cynical when it comes to business practices of publishers. I think raising the price of paperbacks is a way to keep the price of ebooks high. High paperback prices would reduce the argument out there about the differences in paperback vs. ebooks (provided ebook prices remain the same or just slightly higher).

Of course I always think there is a conspiracy in all business practices.

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Old 07-03-2012, 08:54 AM   #4
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Inflation is another reason.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:56 AM   #5
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What is "premium paperback"? If you talk about "trade format paperback" then you get better paper quality and earlier access to the book.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:57 AM   #6
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There has been a significant increase in paper prices over the last few years; that probably accounts for at least some of the increase.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:58 AM   #7
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What you've observed is the decline of the mass-market paperback and the rise of the trade paperback. Mass-market paperbacks are sold like magazines; they havelimited shelf-life and are considered disposable if they don't sell (the vendor, often a supermarket or drug store, tears off the cover to return to the publisher for credit for unsold books, and dumpsters the actual book). Trade paperbacks are sold and marketed more like hardbacks, and are remaindered if they don't sell.

Charlie Stross talks about it a little bit here
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog...the-lengt.html
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:07 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbcohen View Post
This does not include the prices of electronic books, I am talking about strictly the prices of printed books. My question that I want to discuss here is: what is driving the increase in prices of paperbacks? Do you see anything value added to the content of paperbacks to compensate us the customers for the increased price of the paperbacks?
General question: why did Crown Books close?

I don't know if there is any value added. They charge as much as they can get away with. They maximize profit. The downside of the Brick and Mortar is that physical presence is expensive; they have to charge more to stay in business. The upside is, there is less competition; if you want to buy your book in person, there are damn few places left to do it.
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:21 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by tompe View Post
What is "premium paperback"? If you talk about "trade format paperback" then you get better paper quality and earlier access to the book.
You only get earlier access to the book because they have delayed the mass-market release in order to create a market for trade paperbacks!
That is a total circular argument.
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:22 AM   #10
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There has been a significant increase in paper prices over the last few years; that probably accounts for at least some of the increase.
Which is odd, given the tiny proportion of book prices we are told are accounted for by physical costs.
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:25 AM   #11
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Which is odd, given the tiny proportion of book prices we are told are accounted for by physical costs.
That's why I said "at least some of the increase", rather than "all of the increase".
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Old 07-03-2012, 09:27 AM   #12
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General question: why did Crown Books close?
The acrimonious Haft divorce case.

If you lived in the DC area in the mid-90s, you had to be living under a rock to miss that. Very rarely do divorces of people in their 70s play out so dramatically, especially when their son got caught in the crossfire and fired back. The aftershocks left their discount empire (Crown Books, Trak Auto) in shambles. Watching that go down was better than a soap opera, until Crown Books went out of business (but then, Borders and B&N were right there waiting to catch us, weren't they?).
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:59 PM   #13
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And to think I used to pay $0.25 for paperback books.
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Old 07-03-2012, 01:17 PM   #14
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I still do at the "friends of the library" book sale
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Old 07-03-2012, 01:38 PM   #15
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In the UK there are a number of book stores selling new books at cheap prices, quite often 3 for £5 (cover prices are £7.99 or £8.99 each). There is also a company called 'the Book People' which also specialises inlow priced books (some may have been originally published a few years ago). Inspector Morse collection (14 books) for £5.00 instead of £100, also other collections for similar prices. I hate paying the full price for anything (even books).

Supermarkets usually have the latest books for around £4.00-£4.99 each which is still a saving, but don't usually have them for very long.
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