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Re: Art Books Pricing Question

My guess is that $35 per hour would be inadequate for you if you want to
sustain yourself with your work. And really, if you don't set that goal, yo=
are guaranteeing that you will always have to maintain a separate income to
support your art=8Aeven if you have enough demand to keep you making books
full time!!! Bad strategy.

Alan Zell, on his web site sellingselling.com has several articles relating
to artist/craftsperson sales issues. He has one article that suggests takin=
your desired hourly rate plus the cost of materials time 6.5 to derive the
retail price.

You should remember in your current situation, you are both the wholesaler
and retailer. If at some point you have a sales outlet (gallery or retail
setting) they are almost certain to want half of the sale price. This means
you will have to survive on the other half-your salary, taxes, materials,

I believe that Alan's numbers may be a little high but I don't have a
business that proves it. I have been looking at the U.S. Census data for
blank book manufacturers (my interest is in journals, photo albums, guest
books and the like). From this census data for 1992 (1997 should be
published by April) several possibilities can be found.

Production worker wages plus cost of materials (raw materials, electricity,
fuels, components, contractor costs) times 2.2 equals wholesale price.
Retails then, would be 4.2 times these factors. Another view shows Total
payroll (managers, production workers, benefits, taxes, retirement) plus
cost of materials (same definition as above) times 1.8 equals wholesale
value (2.8 times for retail price). These amounts have increased (roughly)
0.2 every 5 years for the last 15 years and the data is 8 years old. A
measure the census offers directly is value added by manufacture. This is
approximately the value of shipments minus the cost of materials, supplies,
containers, fuels, electricity and contract work. In the 5 years (1988-1992=
this number ranged from 68-70%. That means wholesale price was 1.4 times an=
retail price was about 3.4 times these cost factors

You must understand, I am not a financial expert. I'm an artist struggling
to interpret the census the best I can.

All of this assumes that you have some idea of what it is costing you to do
the work. To return to my first paragraph, I approach this problem by
estimating the costs as they would be if I was doing this work in the way
that I want to be doing it-studio space, equipment, retirement, living wage=
That way, as my sales increase, I know I'm moving toward the reality I woul=
like instead of creating a situation where I have to work to support my art=

Of course, when all is said and done, if the price is too high, it just
won't sell.

Don Drake
Dreaming Mind

(510) 727-9131

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