Tuesday, 4 June 2019

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The Price of Hardbacks

The Price of Hardbacks

This post contains affiliate links.

Titles marked with an asterisk (*) were gifted to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

There's something I wish to discuss today about hardbacks. The price. I have previously mentioned my issue with the price of hardbacks, but I want to dig a little deeper. I have various issues with hardbacks, which are mentioned in the post linked, but a lot of the time, when books are published in hardback first, you have to choose whether you want to wait for paperback or whether you want to buy it now.

I don't like spending a huge amount of money on books. I love books, and I love reading, but they're just books, and in the great scheme of things, not as important as other things I need to buy. In the YA section, hardbacks tend to be around £13.99, and that is just too much. I've bought those books, but with my staff discount, so it's not the full price, but even so, I've spent it begrudgingly. I get it, the sale of that book needs to be higher due to materials used, plus there's all the people who had a part in creating the book that need to be paid, and so the publisher needs to make a profit. But I still think over - or in my case, with staff discount, almost - £10 for a book is too much.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb

But that's just YA. I also read high fantasy, and the prince of hardback books in that section blow my mind. To look at two recent high fantasy books, the RRP prince of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon* is £16.99, and The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty* is £14.99. (Yes, I was sent a proof and an eProof, but if I really enjoy them, I want to own a finished copy.) And again, I kind of get it; high fantasy books tend to be much longer books - Priory is 848 pages, Copper is 640 - so that's even more materials. But I've also seen hardbacks that cost £20+. Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb's hardback price was £25, and was 864 pages. Even with staff discount, I haven't bought these books. I can't afford to. I know those pre-orders and sales in the first week are important for authors, but at these prices, I am waiting for them to come out in hardback.

And there are those who have a lot less money than I do, who probably couldn't afford even the £13.99. Yes, we could buy books from certain online retailers that sell the books at a much lower price, but some of those online retailers have a reputation for not treating their employees well, and for not being great for authors. Yes, we could also try libraries, but talking specifically about my local library, it's crap. It's small, and so all the individual sections - like YA and SFF - are small, and the books are pretty much all old. I am not going to find new releases at my library.

So yes, we'd have to wait for the paperback. But that wait can be a year or more, and that feels unfair to me. Especially when it's a book you're dying for, by one of your favourite authors (Robin Hobb). I don't want to wait, and I don't see why I should have to. To me, it just feels like those who are underprivileged, money wise, are discriminated against by setting prices so high and making us wait. Or am I over thinking this? But if so, why would Assassin's Fate cost £7.99 more than Priory, when it's only 16 pages longer? Why such a disparity? Surely Assassin's Fate didn't need to cost so much. There must be a way to get those prices down. Or publish the paperbacks alongside hardbacks. Yes, publishers might lose a few sales from those who would choose the paperback over the hardback if both are on offer at the same time, but there are definitely those who prefer hardbacks, and there are also those, like me, who would only buy the paperback, so you're still guaranteed those sales. Skyscape did this for The Fever King by Victoria Lee. Why can't all publishers do it?

Over to you graphic

What do you think of the price of hardbacks? Are you someone who would prefer to buy hardbacks whatever the price? Or would you wait for the paperback? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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