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Print Pricing Piracy: The Perils of Free Trade | The Book Designer

I’ve heard a number of folks ask recently about people offering their print book[1] for different prices — specifically on Amazon. I thought I’d share what I’ve told them.

This question comes in two flavors:

  1. Someone’s offering your book at a price lower than your set price.
  2. Someone’s offering your book at a price above your set price (often WAY above).

Sometimes you’ll see both at the same time.

Econ 101

First of all, let me assure you: you’re not being ripped off. This is simply free trade at its finest.

A quick economics refresher: in the US (as in many industrialized countries), there is no set price for any product or commodity. The producer can name a price (the manufacturer’s suggested retail price or MSRP, also known as the cover price) , but stores can sell that product for whatever the market can bear. [2]

The important thing to remember in book sales is that the distributor/wholesaler (i.e., Ingram or Baker & Taylor, or, for print-on-demand on Amazon, Createspace) pays you for every sale based on the MSRP.

Generally that works like this: a customer orders a book from a store. They pay 100% of MSRP. The store orders a copy from the wholesaler, typically at a 40% discount — this covers their costs. The wholesaler holds onto a 15% cut, leaving you (typically) 45%, which after paying for printing, storage, shipping, etc., goes into your pocket (unless you owe royalties on the title — but let’s not make this even more complex than it is).

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Print Pricing Piracy: The Perils of Free Trade – The Book Designer.

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