November 2, 2012

This isn't Fiction - Let's talk ... book pricing!

Lynn K. wonders, "How are non-fiction books priced? I don't usually buy non fiction books so I'm not very familiar with the pricing. But one thing I've noticed is that some of them from my library like a 'How to Draw Humans' book is rather expensive. It was completely in black and white (except for the color cover), had less than 50 pages and yet it cost a lot!"

Now there's a good question. Believe me, high priced non fiction books have more than once kept me from buying them. That's were free books for review come in handy. Just kidding. Maybe.

There is certainly more than one aspect responsible for the fact that non fiction tends to be more expensive than your average novel. Things that come to mind are the extensive research that went into a scientific book or the higher expenditures on printing an art book. Then it may depend on the publishing house itself and their pricing policy. And last but not least it's also a matter of the target audience.

Are we talking about a self-help book which is aimed at the stressed out souls in today's society? Chances are this book will be decently priced thus making more people buy it, sometimes even on a whim. Basically, books for the masses are usually cheaper.

Or are we talking about books in very specific areas which will in all likelihood only attract a particular readership? This professional literature is mainly aimed at experts in a certain field, and while there may only be few who're interested in those, they are highly likely to buy the book no matter what the price. Books that also fall into this category are those you might need for college. Sometimes getting them from a library helps, but some books are must haves which you will need your own copy of.

Then there are those books which are so stunningly beautiful and you just have to have them and you don't care a bit about the tiny little fact that you need to shell out enough dough to feed your family for a week. So yes, I've invested in some of those ├╝ber-expensive books myself. One of these books is from Thomas Kinkade and was priced at about € 50,- when I bought it several years ago. On the upside (if there is such a thing) it now costs substantially more. On Amazon Germany my copy of Masterworks of Light is now priced at around € 78,- . Bummer.


Has the price of a non fiction book ever kept you from buying it? What's the most expensive non fiction book you've ever seen or rather (if you don't recall the title) how much did it cost? Guilty of indulging in non fiction books despite being shockingly high priced? Please share!


  1. I think another reason why non-fiction is more expensive is because they tend to have a longer life span than fiction. Most people read a book once and are done with it, whereas if you've got an art book you'll flick through it over and over again.

    Don't get me started on school literature, it's ridiculously expensive here in Sweden. Of course the thought is that you'll use the books for the rest of your life as reference lit, but I've bought book for €50 and only used one or two chapters. I'm lucky to have been able to get all my lit from the library this year because it's too much. And then they give you a measly 3-5% student discount. Why thank you, kind book store, now I can almost afford a bookmark with my purchase.

    1. I guess, like Rikki mentioned below, it really depends on the kind of field whether non fiction has a longer life span or not. Eg most of the books I needed for my Ethnology courses were investments (almost) for life though if you look at sciences than books are outdated pretty fast.
      Still, I would get most books from the library anyway back at Uni because I wasn't willing to shell out that much money for maybe a chapter or two - I'd rather invest into the money at the copying machine vs buying the whole tome.
      And THAT is a measly student discount indeed!

  2. I suppose, FBT is partially right concerning the life span, on the other hand non-fiction has less of a life span in many cases. It totally depends on the topic. They can be outdated pretty quickly and tossed away.

    1. Agreed (as mentioned in my above comment).