Wednesday, 7 September 2011
Judge a Book By Its Cover
I've said before that cover design is important in selling a book, and that designing a cover for print is different to designing one for that little thumbnail that you see when browsing online.
Printing a book is a fixed cost, so the main variable that determines margin is the cover price. A lower price might mean more sales, but not necessarily. This introduces another variable into the equation - the page count.
A book of 100 pages might cost *2 to print, and a book of 500 pages might cost *6 to print. I've used * as a generic currency symbol here.
However, when you look on Amazon, you see that all of the books in your genre are in the range of *5 to *10. Clearly you can't price a 500 page book at *5, because you'd make a loss on each one you sell. But if you price it at *15, you potentially reduce sales.
When someone walks into a book shop and picks up your book, the size of it communicates perceived value. The thicker it is, the more the reader thinks it is worth, up to a point, which is the size at which the reader decides that they can't be bothered to read something that big.
If you want a light holiday read, you don't buy War & Peace.
If you want a 'ten tips to being a great manager' type book, you don't want something that will take you 6 months to read.
And a book on speed reading? How thick should that be?
So I think that what authors - and publishers - are doing is increasing margins by making books smaller. Take half your content out and save it for your next book.
This creates a problem for anyone with a 500 page book - although Amazon does list a book's page count, do you look at it when you're choosing a book? Do you use it to determine the value of a book?
Probably not. You probably just look at the price and assume that all of the books are about the same size...