Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The profit in paperback

At the moment, I'm incredibly frustrated with the economics of paperbacks. My small press publisher isn't represented in bookstores so I've been poking around on my own, investigating possibilities.

My author discount on a paperback is 40% off the retail price of $15.99. They only print locally, so I pay s/h. They also pay royalties, but I get stuck with income taxes on the purchase of my own book.

The math on an order of (19) paperbacks is as follows:

The Mating Game (paperback) [991]
Item# p8295
$15.99 USD19$303.81 USD
Credits applied, including discount coupons, gift certificates, etc-$121.52 USD1-$121.52 USD
Subtotal$182.29 USD
Shipping and handling$30.25 USD

Breaking this out to my price per copy:  $212.54 / 19 =  $11.19

Following some investigation, a major local retailer states they'll carry the paperback for a split of 55/45%. 

So they'll keep 55% of retail:  $8.79

That leaves my cut at 45%:   $7.19

Sooo...I'd lose money if I retailed the book with them.

Last week, the retail price rose by $1/copy to $17.99 for this  paperback. The stated reason is that print costs have risen.

Let's perform this same exercise with my self-published title printed through Createspace:

This time the order is for (20) copies that will retail at $14.99. The book is approximately 20,000 words longer. (That means more paper so it is a more expensive cost/unit to produce.)


Qty     Description                     Format  Price     Ext. Price
20      Hunger Moon                     Book    $5.36     $107.20   

Order Total:
 Subtotal:        $107.20
 Shipping:        $13.00
 Tax Collected:   $9.65
 Total:           $129.85

Breaking this out to my price per copy:  $129.85 / 20 = $6.49

At the split of 55/45%. 

55% of retail:  $14.99 * .55 =  $8.24

45%:  $6.75

With this scenario, I'd make a small profit of about $0.26 a copy, and still owe income tax. Not much but way better than being in the negative. Suppose I raise the price to $17.99 to be comparable to what my shorter novel is priced at. Then, my profit rises despite paying more to the retailer.

Many authors are going to hear their publishers argue that the quality of a Createspace title isn't as good as a local printers, but I have a samples of both right here in my hot little hands. 

Frankly, I can't perceive the difference. The bindings are firm, the paper stock is good, the print quality is excellent, and the covers are attractive.

Right now I'm frustrated that I can't promote my small press title without losing money. I'm not going to state my opinions on this matter. The reader is more than capable of doing the math and drawing their own conclusions.

Next week I'll be sending a media kit off to the marketing department of the major retailer for consideration. I'm sorry to say that I can't afford to promote my small press title.

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