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Re: Bad luck?
Charles Alexander, in explaining that the retail prices of trade books must
not only cover all associated overheads, but also make provision for unsold
books, defective returns, etc, questions (I think) the fact that the sales
price is 5 times the cost of actual production.
I don't know how things are now (probably worse) nor how they were/are in
the US and UK, but when I worked in commercial publishing (in another
life), when the publisher wanted to know if he/she could afford to publish
a given title, the estimated cost of production (including typesetting,
printing, and binding - often obtained through quotes, for relative
accuracy) was then multiplied by a factor of 6 (six) to get the retail
price. (The other five sixths was supposed to cover royalties, other
overheads including promotion, bookseller's discounts, distribution, etc.)
If the projected retail price was more than the market would bear, and the
costs couldn't be reduced (by producing the book more cheaply), then the
book did not get published, at least not by that publisher.
And I would say that those simple economic calculations applied to 99.9
percent of titles considered. That is, possibly one tenth of one percent
got published in spite of the calculation, for a variety of reasons (such
as that the book deserved to be published).
The irony is that, in Canada at least, commercial publishing is still a
good way to lose money.
Editor, CBBAG Newsletter
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