Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

And now it's time for a breakdown

Whoa, this is sweet like Flavorite ice cream topping. Especially if you're me and a mosquito on the back of the publishing waterbuffalo. And also, um, a big, big dork.

What makes books, especially translations, so expensive?

*Paper costs go up by at least %10 per year. Paper is the largest single cost in printing.

*Books aren't widgets. Each one is a separate product, with different production expenses, different sales potentials and different prices.

*The first printing of a book is often small because there have been no reviews yet and no one knows how well the book will sell. A low first printing means a high unit cost.

*Add on to translated books the cost of translation, another $2,000 to $3,000 on top of the royalties paid the foreign publisher.

*How do the costs break down?

For a book costing $9.95:

$2.98 Printing and production

$3.98 Bookstore commission

$1.49 Distributor commission

$1.00 Royalty to foreign publisher

$ .50 Shipping

$ .50 Publicity

$ .25 Profit

*It's important to realize that publishers must pay all the production costs within thirty days, while distributors and bookstores have ninety days to pay. A successful book sometimes means that that a book must be reprinted before it has made back even its initial costs.

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