I have written a lot of book chapters over the years, probably about 20, and have another 4 in press . I also have 3 more waiting on me to write by end of year (agh…). I have co-authored three books over the past few years (1,2,3) but other than the first book, self-published with ACD/Labs, I was not involved with setting the price. That’s probably good as it would likely be randomly changed, as would the list of authors and the number of pages!
There has been a question on this blog about whether I think the price for the most recent book is appropriate and I will discuss that when I have more time. I would say that based on the likely number of copies that will sell for this very specialized area, the size of the book and the amount of work it took us to put together (almost 2 years of work describing about 15 years of work), that this is probably a fair price…about $220 (but with price variation to be discussed below). If you consider that our single articles can be $30-35 for ONE PDF for 48 hours of access summarizing only one point in time in our research then I do think that the price is fine. Having previously “self-published” and seen how many books can be sold in that way I’d say that price is definitely appropriate considering the quality of support we have received from the publisher, RSC, and the associated costs of set-up for printing that must be taken on. Maybe self-publishing would be better nowadays in terms of increased volume of sales, as my last experience was 10 years ago, but based on comments from people using Lulu.com (for chemistry books), sales volume is very low and for worldwide marketing to libraries a professional publisher IS necessary.
Back to the point of this blog post. Who really sets prices for a book, taking just the chemistry book I am involved with as an example? Amazon want about $220, at present, for a copy of our book. That includes a “random 7% discount” that comes from where? However, then things get interesting….
BetweenReads.com.au have the price listed in Australian dollars, add the book editor as an author, change the order of the authors and add another random discount.
PowellsBooks loses two of the authors and leaves only Mikhail Elyashberg as the sole author but keeps the price as the original Amazon price, no discount.
Barnes and Noble give a 19% discount before the book is even released, not an uncommon situation of course.
In most cases the number of pages is underestimated to be 368 pages but if you consult the RSC page you will see that it is almost 500 pages and the LIST price is 146.99 UK Pounds.
Who knows where these various online book sellers get their information and how their prices get set, but clearly there are discrepencies. While this book isn’t a mainstream novel moving the basic info out to the sites should be easy. One has to assume that the various discounts are based on either the scale of the sales operation or, it seems, more random factors. All very interesting…and no resolution from me!