From 20 June, Amazon are increasing the print costs on their paperbacks. Inevitably this means their authors have to review what they are charging for the books.
All my Burke books are currently £8.99 which I judged as being roughly the “going rate” for this sort of paperback. To provide some context, the Sharpe series of Napoleonic war stories are £9.99 each.
At the moment, I make more money on sales of my Kindle e-books than I do on the paperbacks. You could argue that I should not bother with paperbacks at all. They’re more hassle to format, the covers (which I pay for) are more expensive and I pay for ISBN numbers for them. And, after all that, I don’t sell that many. But all writers, I think, want to see their books available in paperback. There is something about seeing the physical product of your work that is immensely satisfying and it’s lovely to have them siting there on my bookshelf or being able to inflict copies on my friends. ‘Look, Mom, I’m a real author!’
So I’m going to carry on with the paperbacks. But I am no longer going to effectively cross-subsidise them from the Kindle sales. From now on, they have to pay their way. So from 20 June, my Burke books will all cost £9.50 each.
£9.50, in these straitened times, may seem a lot but at London prices that’s three cappuccinos. (Price at Pret.) Very little of that goes to me. I get a higher proportion of the £3.99 you pay for a Kindle copy, which is why the Kindle version makes me more money (though obviously less than £3.99).
I could go on about how long it takes to write a book (particularly historical fiction), but I’m not going to. I don’t have to write them. If I wanted to make money, I could join Pret and sell you those cappuccinos. I’m just pointing out that selling my paperbacks for under £9.50 doesn’t make economic sense, even in the mad world that is publishing.
So what can you do if you do want to read a paperback copy of one of my books but you don’t want to pay £9.50 for it?
Here are some possibilities:
- Order it from your local library. They can buy a copy (they may get a discounted price) and I still get paid but you read for free.
- Put in a bulk order. If your book club wants to read any of my books (not just the James Burke ones), contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I can arrange a bulk order at a discounted price.
- Buy directly from me. I can now take credit/debit card payments. I’ve tried putting a button on my landing page offering to post ‘Burke in the Land of Silver’ for £7.99 but so far I’ve had no takers. This is partly because I’ve not really promoted this offer. It’s by way of an experiment to see if the technology works and by the time I’ve paid postage, I’m not even sure that it will make me any money. But I’d love someone to try it. Failing that, email me with your credit card number and your address and I’ll send you any of the Burke books for £8.50. I’ll even sign them if you want.
And remember that all my Burke books are available on Kindle for £3.99 (or free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited).