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Why do books cost so much?
me ^ | November 19, 2001 | Me

Posted on 11/19/2001 6:07:24 PM PST by JoeSchem

Anyone else notice that the price of books is getting absurd? I mean, a paperback that sold for $.50 in the seventies will now go for $7 or $8. That's way out of line with the general inflation rate.

Then you've got the 'trade' paperbacks, which run to $14 on average. It's been a long time since I've bought a new hard cover, but I believe they're going for $25 on average.

It's the free market -- or is it? You would think that the Computer Revolution would drive down the cost of publication, but it seems to be going the other way!

TOPICS: Miscellaneous
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To: L_Von_Mises
Thanks for the link. I shall check it out! :)
61 posted on 11/19/2001 7:03:51 PM PST by Fraulein
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To: Senator Pardek
Yes, the price of paper in this country is sky-high. And I definitely love to read and I'm willing to pay top-dollar for many a book.
62 posted on 11/19/2001 7:08:11 PM PST by BrucefromMtVernon
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To: JoeSchem
You're probably staring at one of the reason's right this second.
63 posted on 11/19/2001 7:09:53 PM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts
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To: Fraulein
it really bothers me when I go the "philosophy" section at some bookstores, and the books there all pertain to astrology/occult/new age studies!

A similar situation occurred in the Science Fiction book sections about twenty years ago. Science fiction makes you think of robots and spaceships, but in reality about half the books were sword & sorcery!

64 posted on 11/19/2001 7:11:00 PM PST by JoeSchem
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To: JoeSchem
To a starving publisher check out my books at


65 posted on 11/19/2001 7:13:23 PM PST by spokeshave
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To: JoeSchem
Indeed, it is a mystery. Akin, I think, to the deep and abiding mystery of why cheese is so expensive. Buy a pound of swiss cheese, for example. It is incredibly expensive, and should be put immediately into your safe deposit box (along with those first edition hardbacks), although eventually one will get wind of it.
66 posted on 11/19/2001 7:21:25 PM PST by Bounceback
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To: JoeSchem
On, you can get "used" hardcover books for about $5 that are almost like brand new. I recently obtained the entire Tom Clancy set from "Red October" to "Executive Orders" for less than $50. That's nine hardcover books that would have costed me over $200 to buy new. Every single book is in mint condition.
67 posted on 11/19/2001 7:23:00 PM PST by SamAdams76
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To: cajunjim1963
Hi, my name is Terri and I'm a readaholic...

Here's my theory on the increase in paperback books:
I noticed it getting really out of hand when Oprah started her Book Club stuff. All of a sudden, regular paperback books (decent novels) started going from $3.25 or so to $5.50, then $7.50, etc. Now it's not unusual to see them at $14.50. The only difference in the books is they now are shaped differently than your standard paperbook and have those fancy schmancy matte covers on them. What a crock! It is getting more and more expensive to feed my addiction.

I have to have at least one book available to read. Usually when I start, I don't stop till finished. John Grisham's are the worst for me - I will start one in the afternoon and finish it at 3 am without stopping. I have been savoring Barbara Olson's book for a week now by limiting myself to reading it only in the tub :).

68 posted on 11/19/2001 7:28:07 PM PST by Clintons Are White Trash
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To: Doctor Stochastic
Okay, I have to jump in here, having some first-hand knowledge of the subject. It was the "Thor Power Tools" decision, circa 1979. The IRS, via the courts, changed the way publishers were permitted to amortize the costs of book production. Before Thor publishers could spread the cost over the sales life of the book, for however long it stayed in print, and depreciate unsold inventory. After Thor, publishers had to take all costs in the first three years, and had powerful tax incentives to scrap all unsold inventory before the three years were up.

The result? Publishers churn inventory faster than ever, continuously produce "new" editions of successful titles in order to re-start the three-year depreciation clock, and give the average new release a 6- to 8-week shelf life. This means there is an enormous amount of waste in the system, and this waste has to be paid for somehow, and by someone.

By the way, when Barnes & Nobles or Borders "returns" a paperback book, they don't actually return it for resale or recycling. They just tear off the cover and send the cover to the publisher, and chuck the rest of the book in the local landfill. Ironic, innit?

69 posted on 11/19/2001 7:33:12 PM PST by brbethke
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To: JoeSchem
Here's a tip for bookshoppers. Go to ebay and search for the title you are looking for. Even books recently published show up at what is usually a fraction of the retail price. Ask the seller to ship it book/media mail rate and you will often save a pile of money.

People get nice books as gifts, but the subject/author doesn't interest them and they sell them at yard sales, give them to thrift stores, or donate them to churches and libraries for book sales, and "pickers" grab the better ones and put them on ebay, sometimes starting the bid at only a dollar or two. For popular recent fiction books you will often see multiple copies available.
70 posted on 11/19/2001 7:33:27 PM PST by BansheeBill
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To: JoeSchem
It's not as simple as you think. Publishing IS driven by the free market. Competition is extremely intense, printing costs are high, and publishers generally have a lot of overhead, warehousing costs, etc.

Publishers charge what the market will bear. If they're charging $7.00 for a mass market paperback, it's because people will pay it and not think twice. I know I would't.

I do draw the line at $25 hardcovers, though. Just wait 6 months and it'll be out in paperback for $14.95 - I guarantee it.

For the record, I'm in the publishing industry...
71 posted on 11/19/2001 7:42:24 PM PST by Antoninus
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To: elenchus
Actually, my press is not leftist - quite the contrary. Too bad we're still tiny. Honestly, you're right - most of the big houses are hard left.
72 posted on 11/19/2001 7:43:49 PM PST by Antoninus
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To: Lizzy W
"Molecular Biology of the Cell"

Published by Garland/Taylor & Francis, perhaps?
73 posted on 11/19/2001 7:49:33 PM PST by Antoninus
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To: JoeSchem
I buy a lot of books, mostly new, many hardback, but all at deeply discounted prices, remainder table prices and some used prices, 25 cents at a local library. I've learned to be patient - a new hardback sometimes arrives at a local HalfPrice Books outlet, as a $7 remainder, before even the $12 paperback is out. Reviewer copies if you reside in one of, uhm, cultural capitals, can be good early deals. Then there's HALF.COM, MYSIMON.COM. And, of course, there is always the library.

Don't feed the multinational publishing/recording industries rackets!

74 posted on 11/19/2001 7:51:54 PM PST by Revolting cat!
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To: JoeSchem
Well, I used to manage a B&N and I can tell you that the profit margin in the book industry is very thin indeed. Even though there are huge superstores, they run an extraordinarily tight ship. The largest cost in the book industry is transportation (from the publisher to the wholesaler, and from the wholesaler to the bookstore). Think about how heavy your typical hardcover bestseller is, then imagine about 25 of those books in a box. Mulitply that by 20-40 boxes of that title per store. Ad infinitum. Those boxes are heavy, and it costs quite a bit to ship them out to the stores. Also, the books don't go directly from, say, Bantam to B&N -- they go through a wholesaler like Ingram first (additional markup and shipping expense).
75 posted on 11/19/2001 7:52:49 PM PST by Aggie Mama
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To: JoeSchem
I haven't read through this whole thread, so forgive me if this has been posted already.

On Saturday mornings, check out the local garage sales, especially in upscale neighborhoods. There are lots of book boxes that get overlooked. Often, these books are in great shape.
Also, keep your eye on eBay (FINAL DAYS by BKO is now $9.99) and other auction sites. You'll never pay retail prices again.
At Amazon, you can search for not only new books, but also used books.
Lastly, check your local public libraries. They usually get lots of donated books that they refuse to shelf and turn right around and sell them at their monthly (at least periodic) book sales.

76 posted on 11/19/2001 7:56:17 PM PST by woollyone
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To: Antoninus
I was a bit surprised by the $27 I had to pay for Barbara Olson's new book. As books go, it's on the slim side.

It was worth every penny, just to support her memory. In fact, I bought two.

I was looking for a set of the Narnia series for my son...$55! I'm just not paying that, and I'm surprised that people do.

Our library cards get quite a workout.

77 posted on 11/19/2001 7:56:46 PM PST by Dianna
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To: cajunjim1963
I spent $200 for three books and a half share of a dead cat. I'm taking one class. I'd hate to be taking four.

Mrs VS

78 posted on 11/19/2001 7:56:59 PM PST by VeritatisSplendor
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