//Pricing Trends of Today’s Paperback Books

Pricing Trends of Today’s Paperback Books

by John F. Harnish

I just finished reading The Franklin Affair, a novel by Jim Lehrer published as a Random House trade paperback with a cover price of $13.95 – the hardcover version was priced at $23.95, available at the discounted price of $16.76 on Amazon.com or as a trade paperback for only $10.74.  But in the here-and-now of the moment, holding the $13.95 trade paperback in my hand at Border’s played directly to my need for some instant gratification – besides, I had a Border’s gift card with about a $20 credit remaining on it!

What caused me to pause and ponder my pending purchase was the poor quality of the digitally-printed trade paperback book.  Yes, it was perfect-bound with an attractive matte-finished cover, but the text pages were a lightweight newsprint stock, thinner than regular newsprint stock and not even close to the weight of the pages in a mass-market paperback.  Also, it was not even close in overall quality to the books published by Infinity Publishing.

The same 208-page book published by Infinity Publishing would clearly be of a much higher quality and, based on the page count, would have a suggested retail price of $13.95.  Same price, better quality, and the paper we use has a nicer feel and a better opacity that’s easy on the eyes.

Border’s had a nice variety of recently-released trade paperbacks and each one was priced correspondingly to our books with a similar page count.  They had a sale on selected trade paperbacks – 3 books for the price of 2.  Now, I view this kind of offer as a way generating greater reader acceptance for the trade paperback format and their pricing at the retail level.

Mass-market paperbacks are now being published in what is referred to as a reader-friendly size of 4 _” x
7 _”.  This is close to the 5 _” x 8 _” size of a trade paperback.  James Patterson’s novel, 4th of July, was on sale at Border’s in the reader-friendly size for $7.49 (marked down from $9.99) to help folks get used to buying the new format at a higher price.  Hardcover book prices are increasing, too; my guess is that’s so the chains can buy at a deep discount and then mark just-released hardcover titles down by as much as 40%.

All things considered, our suggested pricing, based on page count, is right in line with what other publishers are doing with their trade paperback books.