Determining the Retail Price for a Printed Book

At Dog Ear Publishing, determining the retail price of a book is a routine task.

There are various factors we consider when advising authors on setting a retail price. First, what type of genre does your book fall into—non-fiction, fiction, children’s, juvenile, self-help or something else? Some genres allow for higher retail prices or have less competition. For example, religious themed books are in high demand; as a result, retail prices for these books tend to be higher than traditional fiction.

Secondly, the cost to print your book will affect your retail price. Are your books printed traditionally or digitally? Digital printing increases the unit cost of your book compared to traditional printing. However, digital printing allows you to print as few as one book at a time.

Another factor in determining a retail price is bookstores—both traditional and online. Bookstores are in business to make money from the sale of books, so don’t forget they will expect to buy your books at a discount from the retail price. Typically, a traditional bookstore takes somewhere between a 30% – 50% discount off the retail price. Online bookstores can take up to a 55% discount. Some bookstores allow you to negotiate discounts while others are firm in their demands.

Remember, bookstores make their money from the wholesale discount.  Higher wholesale discounts may open more retail avenues for the author. Dog Ear Publishing allows you to set your wholesale discount and book retail price at any level you like—most self-publishing companies do not.  This is a terrific question to ask when kicking the tires of a self-publishing company.

The major ISBN registration agency, Bowker, recently collected retail price statistics:

Average Suggested (Printed) Book Retail Prices Last Year and How they Compare to Previous Year:

$27.52 for adult hardcover (down $.10)

$25.08 for adult fiction hardcover (unchanged)

$28.49 for adult nonfiction hardcover (down $.29)

$15.76 for adult trade paperbacks (up $.11)

$14.78 for adult fiction trade paperbacks (up $.07)

$16.16 for adult nonfiction trade paperbacks (up $.15)

$7.35 for adult mass-market paperback (up .07)

$16.09 for juvenile hardcover (up $.26)

Dog Ear Publishing recommends a book’s retail price be at LEAST 2.5 times the "single-copy print cost" to allow for standard trade discounts to book stores and distributors and libraries, and leave enough "gross margin" remaining so the author will enjoy a reasonable Net Sales Payment.

In the end, profit on a book sale will help fund future writing endeavors!

May you have success in your creative efforts.

Miles Nelson is a Co-founder and Partner at Dog Ear Publishing. Dog Ear Publishing is celebrating its 10 year anniversary in 2014.

By: Miles Nelson, Dog Ear Publishing

7 Responses

  1. Dan
    It would seem that the number of pages in a book would also be a factor in its pricing? I have written a 510 page book, non-fiction,history-religious related, trade paperback. What would be the suggested retail price of this book? Is this book considered too long, with too many pages?
    • mike
      510 pages is a good size book. I would estimate anywhere from 24.95 - 27.95.
    • Smith Publicity
      Good question. In the article, he mentions pricing the book at 2.5 times the single copy printing cost. This is where the number of pages comes into play as it relates to printing costs. Thank you!
  2. This is so helpful as our Earthen Vessel Publishing is trying to determine the price of our new offering. it is 332 pages, over 50 black and white photos, and 36 self-written biographies of people from the Jesus People Movement. We were thinking of $21.95.
    • Smith Publicity
      Thanks for reading, Kent! We are glad you found this post helpful.
  3. Fiona Ingram
    You don't mention juvenile (MG) fiction in paperback. My next MG book is around 350 pages - what price bracket would you suggest?
    • Smith Publicity
      Thanks for reading, Fiona! For more information about book pricing feel free to contact Thanks again.

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