Re: More On Book Price Inflation
- From: Michael Hart <hart@[redacted]>
- Subject: Re: More On Book Price Inflation
- Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2007 09:07:59 -0700 (PDT)
On Mon, 1 Oct 2007, rodhay@[redacted] wrote:
> I think most typesetters would object to suggestions that their
> salaries are hyper-inflated. Similarly for proofreaders,
> editors, etc.
Just because they would object doesn't make it not a fact.
These people are not just living in the upper half, but it
is the upper one quarter, and upper one eighth.
This is nothing new.
Sadly to say, just about everyone living on the high end
of the hog denies it.
Last I heard, some 84% of Americans said they were middle class.
I remember when "middle class tax cuts" included $250,000/year.
Of course at the same time it was considered a great salary for
kids leaving college to get $100,000/year designing web pages.
I'd like to hear some real typsetter's average salaries since
1955 or so, when paperbacks were $.25.
> Michael is probably right that labour costs are the biggest
> part of the total cost, but that is probably true of most
In this case not just the biggest costs, but four times as
much as the actual costs of production. . .as it appears a
20% ceiling is about right for book production costs. . .!
All the rest goes to someone's paycheck. . . .
The 20% figure did not specifically say it referred to the
wholesale book prices, but I think it was internal figures
they were listing, so it would likely not be retail.
This would mean just over $1 of the $20 you paid for those
latest best sellers went for actual production, all others
of your dollars went to paychecks.
Thus I strong doubt that multiplying the price of ink, and
paper, et cetera, by 10, would change book price enough to
make a noticeable difference.
By the way, I did more research over the weekend and found
that my price estimates on ink were 10x too high, even for
just plain housepaint sized cans. . .5.5 lbs about $20 and
shipping was free for most cans, unless you bought one, or
two, or whatever. This brought 10g of ink down to a cent.
Once again, I do not have any evidence for previous claims
that ink represents any real factor in printing prices for
any of the books we have been discussing.
> The fact that computers cost less than old typesetting machines
> is irrelevant. What is at issue is the rate of depreciation.
You could depreciate a computer in just a couple years and
buy another of similar quality for half the price.
Not much real depreciation going on there, compared to the
million dollar investment in putting in a Linotype.
> Those old typesetting machines lasted for ever.
That's because they paid several entire salaries just from
the upkeep point of view. . .those things got overhauled--
pretty thoroughly--over once a years.
Only because we don't maintain them, they are "disposable"
items in the normal course of business.
You COULD keep them running, but most don't want to.
> The real question is whether wages in the publishing industry
> have gone up faster than in other industries.
You pay $16 now for what cost $.25 in 1955.
Where is all that money going. . .in house salaries.
Royalty percentages have remained the same.
Shipping costs have gone down, percentagewise.
Warehousing costs have gone down, percentagewise.
All the items for the lined notebooks have allowed
prices to the half what they were in the 1960's.
Proofreading, grammar checking, spellchecking,
all are so much easier when computerized, not
going to raise the percentages there.
There is only one other place for all that money to go:
Of course, one can pretend that the millions of dollars
going to publishing execs are not profits, but that can
hardly be anything more than more "apples and oranges."
It's money for them, out of our pockets, plain & simple.
Michael S. Hart