I see via Time Magazine there’s some bizarre price war going on at several consumer websites that offer books; Wal-mart, Target, and Amazon.com have been setting new titles at lower and lower prices in the hopes of outselling the competition. Great news for book buyers, not so great for book publishers.
I’ve ordered and received books for my library. There was a big deal a couple years ago when the Canadian dollar finally hit parity with the American and then took a deep breath and climbed on top of it to shake the party maker for another day or two. Canadian editions of books tend to be a few dollars higher than the States, so when our dollar was a fair match to theirs, book buyers were freaking out over needing to pay more and some stores caved and sold them at the American cover price instead.
Well, yes, it is, in a way. Bookstores buy them at a certain price and need to sell them at a higher price in order to make profits and pay staff and rent and whatever. They can suck up a low cost on a few new titles for promotional purposes, but all of them? Less money made means less money to put into purchasing more, as well. Publishers can’t react to price changes as fast as the public will. I’ve already noticed a noticeable difference in book quality over the past couple years. I don’t mean writing – I mean the making of. Many publishers have gone to a thinner, lighter dust jacket for their new titles. It must be cheaper paper than the sturdy stuff they used to use. Never mind the loose bindings and shoddy glue jobs.
People want cheap books, they’ll get cheap books.