Checking E-mail, Pricing Books

A BPNW member recently e-mailed and asked about pricing books. We answered the question via e-mail — only to keep getting the same query sent by the member. By the third time that we received this e-mail, we began to suspect that our original answers were going into a spam folder. Sad, as this is the member’s business e-mail as well.

If you send a query and don’t get an answer in two to three working days, search your spam folder. You might be surprised at what you find.

In hopes that this will help, here’s the original query and answer.

How should I price my book for a bookstore?

The normal discount off the cover price to a bookstore is 40%.

You can set a lower discount, like 20%, if you want. It’s not unusual for small press to do that.

A distributor like Ingram usually asks for a 50 to 60% discount, so they can in turn offer a 40% discount to bookstores.

This is why margins are very thin in publishing and getting your “per book” cost down is important — if you plan to distribute through bookstores. If you are planning to have most of your distribution through direct sales, you can have a higher per unit cost because you’re keeping more of the retail price for yourself.