Why are you selling Out of Print books for the retail price?

Also phrased as: “Dude, that book is selling for 4X as much on eBay, are you an idiot or something!?!?”

Yes, maybe? I guess it depends on who you ask!

Here’s the deal: how retailers price new books has always been a somewhat controversial topic. In theory, a bookseller can take a brand new $50 book and sell it for $5 or $500 if that’s what they want and what the market will accept. They’re not obligated by the publisher to sell for any set price.

I’m making absolutely no judgements here about retailers who decide to price a new and popular book based on the current market rates. I totally get the reasoning involved, and given the low margins in the bookselling business, I understand it 100%. (Why do you think Lividian Publications is extremely generous with dividing up our print runs among booksellers and then actively pointing customers toward those booksellers? I like booksellers! I think they’re important to the small press ecosystem and deserve support.)

My personal decision is this: when it’s a book that I’ve bought as a retailer to offer on the site, I’ll always sell it at retail, even if it’s selling for much higher on the second-hand market. My hope is that a lucky collector will be able to fill a gap in their collection, but I know that some of the copies are getting flipped for “easy” profits. That’s why some people have said I’m an idiot for not just marking up my copies. But you know what? I know which of my customers are buying and flipping the books (I’m in the same groups as them!), and do you know what I see those customers doing with their profits? Buying other books for their collections! So, that money is really only helping other small presses, booksellers, collectors, and sellers, which is fine by me.

Ultimately, it doesn’t hurt me to sell at the retail price. That said, I do tend to restrict these books to “one per person” because there were people buying 5 or 10 copies to flip, which kind of goes against the spirit of what I’m trying to do.

For books from outside the US, the price might be a little different than if you ordered direct because I have to factor in the exchange rate at the time I paid for them and the shipping cost to get them to the US, but there won’t be a purposeful markup to increase the profit margins.

Again, I’m making absolutely no judgement here about how other people do business, but I’ve gotten enough questions that I thought it finally needed to be addressed. I hope this information is helpful.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit

Share Your Thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.