This is not a rant about how authors are artists and should be paid for their work. This is a post about the bargain that is a book, a physical book, pages bound together inside a cover.
New hardcover books are about $35.00 or so here in Canada. New pocket paperbacks are about $12.00 and new trade-sized paperbacks around $20.00. I realize that some books are slightly more, some could be less, but if you went into a bricks-and-mortar shop and found these prices here in Toronto, you would not be surprised. If you ventured forth and bought, say, a new book in hardcover by an author you’d read before, and that book was around 400 pages, how long might it take you to read it? If you are a page-a-minute person, it would take you 400 minutes, which is 6 hours and 40 minutes. Many people actually read at a slower rate than that, why don’t we say around 10 hours. That is entertainment for $3.50 an hour. That’s a pretty good rate. The ten hours it takes to read the book are probably spread over about a week and interspersed with other activities. You can read on transit, while waiting for an appointment, after dinner in the evening, before work in the morning, any time you like, you can read. It is entertainment on demand.
Lots of people complain about the price of books. I’ve not heard as many people complain about the price of movies. Maybe this is just because I work in a bookshop and not a movie theatre. But think about it. If I go to a movie, it costs about the same as a paperback novel, and I get an hour and a half of story that I can’t experience again. If I buy a paperback novel, I get 10 hours of reading and a story that I can experience again and again if I want. Same price. People complain about the books.
I think books are a good deal, even at full price. Why don’t more people buy into this?