Print: What do you think?

So I’ve been thinking about print copies.

Print copies of full-length books will be available as soon as I can make them available–hopefully only a few weeks after the digital version. (The delay will mostly be a matter of Lightning Source approving the material and making it available in their catalog.)

I haven’t yet made a print version of Unlocked, because hey, it’s only a little over 111 pages. Since these will all have to be printed POD, I don’t see I could make it available for anything except around $5.99 or so–which to my ear sounds way too expensive for 100 pages. But I know I will be writing more novellas (I really like the form!) and had planned at some point to release a print anthology combining three of them (probably at a price point closer to 10.99–I can’t be sure until I know the length). But this probably won’t be until 2012 or so, and I hate to leave my print readers out for so long.

So this is a question for those of you who only read in print, or who prefer to read in print: Would you want to buy a print copy at $5.99, available sometime in the next month, knowing that it will be available in an anthology form next year, or would you hold off for the anthology. What do you want?

At some point in the future, I’ll have another post for indie bookstore owners about terms.

EDITED TO ADD: What do you think about the possibility of having the novellas combined with full-length editions?

E.g., putting Unlocked as a bonus at the end of the print edition of Unraveled?

22 thoughts on “Print: What do you think?

  1. Hmmm if I still read print, I’d wait for the anthology. Also I just like multiples of threes – but $6 for a 110 page “book”… you know someone won’t be paying attention to page count and there will be outrage…
    But then I’m just the reader/consumer. What do I know. 😉

  2. As a strictly (for the most part) print reader I would probably do better with the anthology. If I’m going to read some Courtney Milan I want to settle in for a nice long read on a Sunday afternoon. 🙂

  3. Okay, this is very helpful, everyone.

    I just edited the post to ask a second question: What would you think about having the novellas be “bonuses” at the end of full-length works, e.g., putting Unlocked at the end of Unraveled?

    Or would that bug you?

  4. As a print reader, I don’t think I’d buy a $6 novella. I’d rather make due with digital even though that limits my reading opportunities to places where I’m willing to lug my laptop unless it gets to the point where there are so many things that are available digital only that I give in and buy an e-reader. Or hold off for the anthology if I were sure there were going to be one.

    I would definitely buy an anthology. Even if I had already cracked and bought a digital copy of one or two of the stories before it appeared, I would buy it so that I could have all my Courtney Milan stories together on the shelf with the rest of the series to which they belong, and rest assured that I have a hardcopy for which I’ll never have to worry about if I can download it to another device.

    I also like the novellas as bonuses idea. I’ll be buying the print edition of Unraveled anyway, so combining that with a shorter wait for Unlocked is even better.

  5. This is just my two cents….

    One author–I won’t name who–sold basically a novella for a hardback price. So you can sell it for $6, but I do think you’ll have a lot of unhappy customers who think I’ve been robbed type of thing.

    I like the anthology idea but the price point seems too high to me. I’d think, this is close to $11, and I can buy a hardback for around the same amount. And, wow, I can buy each of these novellas for 99cents each on Kindle. I don’t know. I think I’m too sensitive to price points as it is.

    I’d probably buy the print anthology if it was closer to 7 or 8. I think if you can keep it under 10, that would be ideal. But I also understand this can be extremely hard to do. I do like the idea of having the novella at the end of a full length.

    Anyway, I’m rambling and I don’t think I’m making sense.

  6. For me, the issue wouldn’t be price so much as density. I still prefer print because it’s the one you can safely take to the bathtub or the beach, and I’d rather bring one big book than a couple of little ones. My vote goes to anthology or bonus.

  7. I don’t have an e-reader, so I like the idea of having the novella as a bonus in a full-length book.

    I also agree with Elyssa about the price point of an anthology: $5.99 would be too pricy for 100 pages and $10.99 is getting into the price range of a trade paperback or a deeply discounted hardcover.

  8. Ooh. Bonuses is a cool idea. Gut says wait to go print until you’ve got an anthology. I really enjoy anthologies and often get those in paperback.

  9. Bonuses are great, especially if there is a connection between the stories, but I would also hold out for the anthology…and if I couldn’t wait that long I would break down and buy the digital copies.

  10. I like to read in paperback, so having your short story at the end of your book would be awesome 🙂

  11. There’s a reason these are trade paperback prices–the only way to produce a POD version is in trade paperback. So while these are trade paperback prices, you’ll be getting a trade paperback for it.

    The rest of this comment may be TMI, but…

    The basic economics of self-published print are governed by this: it is going to cost a little bit more than $5 to produce each copy of the book. Not true if you’re doing print runs on an offset printer; definitely true in POD. Hopefully as the technology matures the price can come down, but this is one place where a publisher’s economy of scale beats what I can do to flinders.

    The only way I could get this out at the mass market price in the trade paperback format would be if I did one of the following two things:

    1. Squish the type up so tiny that it fits on a smaller number of pages.

    2. Cut the distributor profit to so small a margin that it’s not cost-effective for bookstores to order it.

    I’m definitely not going to do #1; that would result in a crappy product, and I’m never going to do that. I don’t want to do #2, either, because I don’t want to screw indie bookstores who might want to stock my work.

    There is a third possibility–and that is to reduce my own share of the profit. So I could price the book at $7.99, with a 35% discount for the distribution channels and no returns–but I’d have to be willing to accept 9 cents in marginal profit per book.

    I’m not willing to go there. The setup costs for each title are close to $100, and I’d need to sell over 1,000 print copies just to break even on the format. I don’t believe that will happen, and I won’t function at a loss.

    I may be able to get the price under $10, but just barely under–and it will depend on the size of the book.

    Print is the one area where self-publishing really sucks–that’s why it was never a viable business model until the digital marketplace took off.

    I would sell print rights to someone who would do a mass market run and distribute it in a heartbeat. Whoever published it wouldn’t have to pay for editing or proofing or even for a cover–just the setup and printing and distribution.

    I throw that out into the ether as a general comment.

  12. Loving this blog (and your novels), and I’m very interested to see how your publication plans are unfolding.

    Living in Australia, books tend to cost so much more anyway that it’s really hard to say! I love the idea of ‘Unlocked’ as a bonus at the end of ‘Unravelled’, and would pay a bit more to get that included. I would also buy a book of three novellas.

    Not so sure about buying a novella as a standalone regardless of the price – for ‘Unlocked’, I downloaded it as a PDF and printed it out, which was excellent for devouring purposes but not so good for keeping to reread, and I probably wouldn’t have bought it at a higher price. Quite apart from anything else, if you put a novella in your handbag, you will need to have at least one more book in there, maybe two, to get through the day on public transport!



  13. I would be happy with either bonus novella or anthology – if one will get released earlier than the other, then I’d vote for that 🙂 but I am more than happy to wait for a Courtney Milan masterpiece! Who wouldn’t?

    I can understand where you are coming from though – and it makes acceptable sense! You are trying to make this work for both yourself as a writer and us as readers (both print and digital)! Thank you!

    Good luck with this project!

  14. Personally, if I’m getting a trade paperback, I have no problem paying $10-$15 dollars for it.

  15. I’m a print-only reader, if that helps put it in perspective.

    I would prefer to wait for the anthology rather than pay that much money for only one story.

  16. Last week I was forced — yes, forced — to buy an e-book/novella for the first time. If I have to, I will do it again, but I prefer print.
    In this economy, I am a bit pickier about which books I buy, but I would still buy a trade paperback anthology of stories I had not read yet. If I had already been forced to buy them as e-books I would wait until things picked up financially to buy the print copy.
    I would love to have them as a bonus at the end of a full-length novel and would even consider paying a bit more for that novel if I knew a novella was included.

  17. In this case, I probably would buy the novella, but it’s a really great story. For other novellas, I’m not so sure. Though it does depend – if you price it at around $6 and sell it for that price in Canadian dollars to Canadian consumers? I can’t speak for all of us, but the way trad pubs mark up prices for our market, $6 for a novella isn’t abnormal. Anyway, even if I bought a copy of the novella, I’d still buy a copy of the anthology when it came out, so I doubt I’m very helpful in this regard.

    But bonuses? Made. Of. Win. A few years back when I was reading way more manga than books, I got used to omake pages… and when I returned books, the endings just felt so empty in comparison. And as long as you didn’t raise the price of Unlocked more than a couple of dollars, I wouldn’t even feel annoyed at having paid for the same story twice. (Though the fact that I LOVE print plays a factor here.)

    Slightly off-topic, but back to what I touched on earlier: I’m shamelessly begging here, but please please please don’t mark up the Canadian price, please please please. Even though our dollar’s been really close to yours for a couple of years and has been doing better than it for most of this calendar year, we routinely pay 20-25% more for books. It’s not possible to talk to a Canadian who buys books on a regular basis without hearing about our rage (it used to be annoyance, but the longer our dollar stays strong while book prices remain the same… well, now we’re at rage) regarding this. I’ll be buying your books anyway, but I would be soooo much happier if I got them for a fair price while I was at it, y’know?

  18. Lynz,

    I haven’t looked into all the details of price-setting yet–and I don’t know how sales to the Canadian market will work right now–but to the extent that it is possible for me to do so, the price I set in the US will be the price worldwide, although differing value-added-tax regimes may have an effect on base pricing. I don’t believe in discriminating on the basis of where people live, and I don’t have to do so.

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