A note on the Library Juice Press pricing philosophy

The publishing industry has some very separate parts to it. Trade publishing is the biggest, and is what most people think of when they think of “book publishing.” In the trade book market, quantity is everything. The price point for a book is low and the profit margins are very small. Publishers often pay authors large advances, try to sell a lot of copies in bookstores, and spend a lot on advertising. It is a big business and one that has not been faring well of late, as competition for readers’ eyeballs has been increasing. (I am not looking at ebooks as a separate sector in competition with trade books, but as a part of the publishing industry in each of its sectors.)

Scholarly and professional publishing is a bit different. Quantities of books sold are much lower. Where a trade book may need to sell 10,000 copies to be worth the publisher’s time, academic publishers use a business model wherein sales of 500 copies are often sufficient for profitability. That means that prices are much higher. Usually, scholarly books are priced for a customer base of libraries rather than individuals. The same is true for professional books published by the likes of Neal-Schuman. Where a trade book can be had for $12, a scholarly or professional book is going to cost $50 to $100 in hardcover, and $30 to $60 in paperback. With such small and specialized audiences, those kind of prices are a necessity for most scholarly publishers. Some university presses have begun publishing trade-like titles in order to reach out to a bigger market, and set prices closer to trade book prices for the paperback editions of those titles, but seldom less than $25. Another aspect of the difference between trade publishing and scholarly publishing is that bookstores typically get a discount from publishers of 45%, where vendors of scholarly books typically only get a 20% discount.

At Litwin Books and Library Juice Press we are publishing scholarly and professional books, but we’re doing it with a low overhead in our operations, which enables us to set prices that are affordable to individuals, and not just libraries. In this way we are mirroring what Scarecrow Press did in their early days. Our prices are not as low as trade book prices, and we are not spending money on a lot of advertising or giving big discounts in the hope of bookstore sales, so our business model is more like that of other academic publishers. But we want our titles to be titles that you can go and buy. All of our books have been paperbacks so far, with prices ranging from $12 for our tiniest book to $45 for the longest one.

We change our pricing policy a bit for ebook titles sold to libraries through ebrary. Those books are for a library market only, so the prices reflect what the hardcover prices would be if we published hardcover editions. In the future we will also be offering ebooks to consumers on a number of platforms. We anticipate that the prices of those ebooks will be lower than our current paper book prices.

We are having a busy Spring, getting a handfull of books ready for publication. Take a look at our books on offer to see what we have been doing.