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Print publishing caught in pricing bind

odysseus between scylla and charybdis, by fussli

Print publishers are currently caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of a weakening economy and higher prices for essential costs such as paper, freight, and postage.

The soft economy pressures publishers to lower prices on books, but this is difficult to do with the cost of paper at an all-time high. Gas prices have caused freight charges to rise markedly. New federal regulations make it easier for the postal service to raise rates, and another increase takes effect today.

Many publishers will respond by lowering quality — using cheaper grades of paper and cutting costs wherever possible (although eventually I think they will be forced to raise prices nonetheless). But with the web as an always available instant provider of content that is almost free to users, can print publication compete for large numbers of consumers? Another approach would be to recognize print as an exclusive product for a literati class and accept smaller print runs and higher prices.

Difficult choices.

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Shown: Odysseus between Scyla and Charybdis, Johann Heinrich Füssli, 1794-1796.

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LINK: As costs soar, will prices follow?

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2 Comments

  1. >recognize print as an exclusive product for a literati class and accept smaller print runs and higher prices.

    In Buenos Aires this already seems to be the case. Books have short print runs and are priced relatively high (in comparison with other products in the economy). I always got the impression that it was because publisher knew the people who buy books here are usually from the mid-to-high socio-economic class.

    For those on the lower economic scale, there are a large number of discount bookstores as well as many used book dealers. And, the major daily newspapers often offer low-quality editions of classic titles at a very low price.

  2. This might be the direction publishing is going here as well.

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