Upward price creep for Kindle fantasy novels

David Sims

Warded demons with Arlen
Several years ago, I said that the prices of fantasy novels could be approximately predicted by the number of years we are into the 21st century.

It's 2019, and here's a Kindle fantasy novel priced at (about) $19.

Dark Magic: The Godwars 2,
by Angus Wells

Now, granted, this is the upper limit (as far as I know) for fantasy novels this year. But there are lots of Kindle fantasy novels that are almost up there, too. Indeed, $15 seems to have become pretty standard as the price when a new novel is released. George RR Martin's Fire & Blood presently sells for $16 in Kindle format. The Vindication of Man by John C. Wright and Siege of Stone: Sister of Darkness: The Nicci Chronicles, Volume III by Terry Goodkind are both selling for $17.

I've acquired the habit of waiting three years, and longer if necessary, for the price of a book to fall to something acceptable. What that is, I won't say here. And it isn't the same upper limit for all books anyway.


Journeyed there and back again
The minimum wage in my country currently is around 300$/month.

The current price for paperback of Book of Dust( 2017 ) in my country is 15.00$ and the e-book is 8.00$, so approximately 5% and 2.1% of the minimum monthly wage.

Amazon Kindle e-book in US of the same book is 9.50$ and paperback is again around 15.00$. So not that big of a difference, except that the minimum wage in US is 300$ per week, so the same book is basically 4 times cheaper for a US citizen( because you can buy 410-420% more books with your monthly salary).

I'm not saying that book prices aren't astronomically high, but there are places in the world where it's even worse than US and in small countries like mine - reading is a luxury, same as being a smoker is.


Journeyed there and back again
Well, it's neither here nor there.

The sad truth is that no matter how much you pay, the most that ever gets to the author is 10%, or 15% in very rare cases. Printing the book costs another 5-10% of the total price and you're left with 30% for the publisher and 50% for the bookstore.

We are not paying so much for the paper and for the author's time, but for the book's marketing, the publisher's profits and for the bookstore's rent.

It's even worse for the e-book versions of those same books where the cost of warehousing/printing/formatting/editing/distributing is so close to 0 it practically is 0.
Last edited:

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
You're preaching to the choir there. But the self publishing option is stealing away some talent, as demonstrated by Michael Sullivan (albeit being aware he started as self published) saying he's going self published from here on out. He's of a mind that the next crop of fantasy authors are going to forego trad publishing for a bigger slice of the pie, which will soon start pulling away some of the trad published authors.


Journeyed there and back again
. . . next crop of fantasy authors are going to forego trad publishing for a bigger slice of the pie, .
Bit of a problem there.
If authors take the self-pub route they very soon discover that even if they have adequate (or even good, maybe even 'outstanding') product, they still have to spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, keeping their website/blog up to date, doing a signing session at Waterstones, giving a speech at the local book club, getting their name in the paper etc. etc. It probably adds up to significantly more time on marketing and publicity than they are able to spend on writing!
Trad publishing from 20 years back (or thereabouts) involved the publisher doing the majority of the advertising, publicity, etc. Nowadays, they expect the author to put a lot more in (in terms of the list above,and maybe some extras) and they still take their rake-off . . .
But not all authors want to spend their time on those activities (and some are not very good at it!)

This situation illustrates the extent to which marketing is more important than quality - and that is bad news!