Book pricing variations
There is a fascinating article in Publishing Perspectives on the pricing differential of books written by ‘men’ compared with those written by ‘women’. I’ve purposefully put the genders in quotes as the article classifies JK Rowling as genderless and as male under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith.
What really intrigued me though was that the trends identified amongst the mainline publishers are reflected in what is called the ‘indie’ world. The suggestion being that prices are determined by genre as well.
As a small publisher working with an array of authors, the idea of pricing books according to gender never even crossed my mind. At TSL we price on a fixed formula based on the cost of printing the book with small variations being agreed through discussion with the author. This we found to be the most fair, transparent and easiest way to work. Trying to guauge market prices for books in our start out days meant our books would be running at a loss – something we couldn’t afford and neither could our authors.
Discovering the real cost of printing books and how many are underpriced, has changed my purchasing habits generally – no longer is the cheapest the one I necessarily go for. It’s now a far more complex process taking ethics and moral values into account.
It’s been a tough decision to stick to the formula expecially when some books appear to be too expensive for their genre or target audience, but if we are going to redress inequalities, the reality of the situation has to be accepted and a stand made. As a result, authors might not want to publish with us, that is fine – one thing I’ve learned about being an author myself is that if you don’t have the right fit with your publisher, you’re not going to have a pleasant publishing experience – whether this is gender related or not, I have no idea. For me and TSL, it’s about principles and sharing a common vision.
What concerns me more than the gender divide is the evergrowing gap between those who use social media and those who don’t. I wonder how the latter authors are able to keep track of their books in today’s world? I know at TSL we still do snail mail for at least five of our authors – and I get letters in return, something I’ve heard people reminisce the loss of.
A number of TSL’s authors are passionate about other things too.Share