Monday, October 1, 2012

Misc. Monday: The Price of Books, and How Much is Too Much

I don't, as a habit, include a discussion of price in any of my reviews. My goal is to tell you whether to read a book, and not necessarily whether to buy a book. After all, there are always libraries and friends to borrow from, and lots of used and discount options for the reader on a budget. So why mention price?

This is not to say that I think the cost of a book is irrelevant, or that it should never be mentioned in a review at all.

Reviews That Mention Price Can Be Helpful


So, while I try to pretend (for the purpose of reviewing) that all of my books came from a magic book fairy at no cost to me, it is a common practice among other reviewers to mention the source of the book. Why do so? It provides us with some what that reader's investment in that book. I do feel that someone who spent hard earned money on a book is going to be inclined to really try to like it, while someone who got a book for free might be more inclined to dismiss it over tiny flaws. Or perhaps not.

What I find more helpful, as a potential reader, is when the reviewer references the exact price they paid. I know that sounds crass, but it's true. When someone says, "It was good, but it wasn't worth $12 that *insert retailer here* is charging." That tells me to hold off, wait to find it used or borrow a copy. On the other hand, "It's flawed, but for $1.99 why not give it a try?", while not a glowing endorsement, does make it sound like I don't have much to lose. I'll take a risk for $2.

Price Influences Our Book Buying Decisions


Obviously. How could it not? Unless you're one of those rare lucky ducks with an unlimited book buying budget, you're operating under a weekly or monthly or yearly limit. You want to get the most bang for your buck. For me, this becomes a curious game of mathematical gymnastics. If I have $20 to spend, and I buy 20 $1 books, the law of averages states that at least on of those books will make me smile. But then I've got 19 really frustrating or mind numbing books--which will make hilarious reviews, but will eventually drive me to drink. If I spend a bit more to buy books from mainstream authors that I know and like, I'm less likely to be frustrated by any of them, but my $20 is only going to get me 2, 3 books max. And what if one of them does suck?

The higher the price, the more assurance of awesomeness I need before I'll take the plunge. For a series or author that I dearly love, one which has given me multiple positive experiences and no negative ones, I'll spend my entire monthly budget to buy a hardcover. Not rational, I know, but I want it that badly. A less proven author might get $8 from me, but only if there's nothing really exciting to buy or preorder that month. Same goes with really well reviewed authors that I don't have personal experience with yet. Then there are the unknowns with few or mixed or no reviews. For those, I'm not willing to spend more than $4. And again, it really all depends on how many big releases there are in any given month.

The Issue of Ebook Price


I love my Kindle dearly, I really do. However, there's a special magic to owning physical books. To be honest, I usually only buy ebooks when they're cheaper, or when I'm traveling and need the portability of the Kindle.

I firmly believe that ebooks should always be cheaper. I'm not the first to say so, and I won't be the last. It's a fact that I can't lend, sell, trade, or display an ebook as I do with other books, so the price should reflect that. As in, the price should never, ever be more than $12, regardless of what the print book costs. Ever. I actually find it really insulting when publishers make the decision to put a hardcover price on an ebook.

What's your take?


What do you guys think? How much is too much for you? Are you willing to pay premium prices for premium authors, or do you refuse to give in? Do you mention price in your reviews, or keep that to yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments, and have a happy Monday!


  1. The inflation of book prices from when I first starting buying books to now is ridiculously high! Especially in YA. My old Christopher Pike books- $3.99 for paperback. Now his paperbacks go for anywhere from $9.99 to $14.99. I want to own books, I love to own books, I love to display books, but the prices are keeping me from buying all the books I would if they kept paperbacks under $10, and if kindle books remained cheaper than hardback. As much as I love hardbacks, their price is just going up and up, and often brand new authors that I don't have a history with, are being sold at a price that I don't know feel is worth the risk of the book sucking. I really believe in supporting local bookstores, but I read a lot and buy a lot, so my budget is much more Amazon friendly. And that makes me sad.

    Great discussion post! I never thought to put the price of the books I review, but I might start looking into that.

  2. I very rarely buy books unless they are one of those $0.01 ones on sites like Amazon and then only if I really want it because the shipping is crazy!

    I usually limit my book acquiring to trading my books on or ones I get for review or win.

    I hadn't even thought about adding a price to my review because like you, I think it should be about the merits of the book not the merits vs. the cost.

    Very interesting question.


  3. I don't mention price in my reviews though I may have mentioned once or twice that a certain book was a steal at. 99 cents or something. I don't think I have, but I may have. I don't think price is really relevant. But when it comes to ebooks I'm cheap. I don't really feel like I'm buying a book, its just different. So I go for the bargains.
    When it comes to real books I'm cheap there too. I just don't have money to spend on them. The only time I will pay full price is at a booksigning, otherwise I order online for a discount. And I know that's bad, but I can get two books for the price of one...


Thoughtful comments are appreciated! I always respond to them, and I usually return the favor! Happy reading!

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