American Pricing on Books Revisited

A friend asked my opinion today of Raincoast’s decision to drop its publishing program. You see, due to the rise of the Canadian dollar and consumers demand for “American pricing,” it was no longer profitable for this Canadian publisher to continue making books.

You see, demanding that a publisher give in to your demand of lower prices or you’ll stop buying their books didn’t get you lower prices. It lost you the voices of hundreds of great writers.

What Canadians are forgetting, is that a rise in the Canadian dollar shouldn’t lower the cost of books for Canadians … it should raise the price for Americans. Take a book that costs $10 in Canada, as an example. At the time when the American dollar was $1.30 to our $1, it meant that a book a publisher who requires $10 Canadian to make a profit will only need $7 US. If the US $ goes to par with the Canadian dollar, that doesn’t mean the Canadian publisher suddenly only needs $7 Canadian to cover costs and make a small profit. It means the price for Americans should rise to $10 US to match the cost of the $10 Canadian price. If the Canadian publisher needed $10 Canadian to profit before the rise in the dollar, it still needs it after.

Of course, there are more factors than this. That the publisher will sell up to 90% more books in the US than in Canada is a *huge* factor on price. Where the book is printed, whether in the US or in Canada, is another big factor. To get US pricing, don’t expect books to continue to be printed in Canada. Manufacturing is far too expensive here.

What you can expect is more publishers to drop their Canadian books. They simply won’t be profitable enough to produce, and because of consumer demand for US pricing we’ll eventually have a country filled with US books. While I enjoy my American writers as much as the next reader, I also enjoy the variety of Canadian flavour in my reading.

I want manufacturing jobs to stay in Canada. I want a Canadian system of health care and services, and I understand that means having to pay more for products. I want our country to have livable wages. And I know this can’t be achieved if we continue to demand US pricing!

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