Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Deciding where to buy books - and their price

Yay, my new book's out in the UK and through online stores - 'Calligraphy for Greetings Cards and Scrapbooking' - and I'm delighted with it. It's been wonderfully produced by the publisher, GMC Publications, but I daren't look for typos. We all tried very hard to locate any before it went to print.

Hands up the authors who read through their book, looking for escaped errors, when it first arrives. How many of you is that?


The book’s available on the GMC website for £14.99 ($23) - the price printed on the cover (I’m not sure if delivery is extra). ‘The Book Depository’ quotes $17.54 with free worldwide delivery. says you can pre-order it and it will be published on October 2nd, $13.57 with free supersaver delivery, but I believe the publishers received stock ahead of schedule from the printer, so presumably it will soon be for immediate sale there, too, as is on

The Australian Distributor's website says it will be available in June, RRP ...da da... $29.99. That's a huge difference to $13.57!

How can Australian stores compete?

I love and do support local stores, and I always ask readers to support bricks and mortar stores when they can because I’d hate to lose the ability to handle and browse through books in shops. More than enough bookstores have been forced to close already. But if there's a choice of buying one book or two, do you support two authors or one store? I guess sometimes you do one and sometimes the other - but it’s not an easy decision. I've a long list of titles that I'd love to purchase. The cheaper they are, the more books I can buy as gifts for children; the more children read the better...

The author will probably get a higher royalty payment if the price is high, with luck 10 per cent of the money the publisher gets from the sale, i.e. before the wholesaler and store have added their extras - not 10 per cent of the selling price to the customer.

The cost of public transport or car-parking is also added to the price a reader pays at a shop – once to get to the shop, often only to discover the book has to be ordered, in which case, then again to collect the purchase two weeks later.

I never regret book shopping in physical stores and spending a little extra - but I do think very long and hard if the cost is over double the online price, and then I invariably end up buying something totally different from my original mission.

But do you, as an author, breed happier readers/customers/loyal followers who spread the word that you are a nice person, who's kind and helpful, if you also tell readers where to buy your books at the cheapest price?

I don't know.

If you want someone to buy you a book as a gift, do you tell them where they can buy it cheapest as well as at the shop price and leave the decision to them? Or if they want to give your book as a gift to someone else and seek your buying suggestion?

I feel deceitful asking people pay top dollar when I know exactly where they can get the book for a lot lot less, even though I’d like them to support a ‘real’ bookshop. There are heaps of folk who struggle to afford to buy books at any price.

When the price of your book is significantly cheaper online than that stated on its cover, do you sell your own book at the cover price? People are happy to pay this at launches and signings, especially if food and champagne are provided, but if you sell privately at, say, a workshop, do readers feel ‘ripped off’ if they later find the book selling at half price (with that vendor presumed to be making a significant profit, even though they are possibly selling in bulk with only a small percentage mark up)? Are you then deemed greedy and obviously making an outrageously huge and unnecessary profit from sales?

Huge profit and greed is, of course, unlikely to be the case, but reputation is about perception, not fact - online discount stores no doubt get a different wholesale price to the one available to the author, as well as being content with a low margin.

How do readers feel about you as a person if they buy at the top price from you, or as recommended by you, and then later find that you knew all along where they could get it cheaper?

How I wish this book was the same price everywhere!

Peter Taylor

PS The best current deal is probably The Book Depository with free delivery but if you'd like to shop somewhere else... I'll keep you updated!

PPS  If you buy a copy of the book and write a review on any website, or in a magazine or newspaper and notify me, I will hand write and decorate a name for you in calligraphy, add a feature incorporating 23ct gold leaf and send it to you.


JoyCorcoran said...

This is always a troubling issue. I can't afford many books, and unfortunately, I have to look for the cheapest prices. It's also a lot easier to shop on-line because I don't drive. I try to buy from brick & mortar stores when I can, but the internet provides great deals.
Your book looks wonderful and I look forward to getting it. Do you get less royalties from Amazon?

Peter Taylor - Author and Illustrator said...

Many thanks, Joy

I'm sure most people will go for the cheapest option. I do shop in bricks and mortar stores, but usually come out with an impulse buy rather than a book on the non-fiction topic for which I was searching.

There are still some very successful stores, but they often include a coffee shop as well, or something that makes them a hub for the community.

Royalties on this book are paid on what the publisher receives from each sale - yes, I'm expecting that not all sales outlets will deliver them the same outcome, with Amazon on the lower side, but I've no idea to what extent there will be differences. Volume sales will hopefully make up for any smaller percentage.

All best wishes