Is a Book Worth More than a Greeting Card?

Greeting Card

I was shopping for greeting cards at Hallmark a couple of days ago.

It really got me thinking about book prices.

At first, I was thinking, “$3.99 for a greeting card? I have a book that I spent months on selling for $2.99.”

But then I realized that I had paid $3.99 for greeting cards long before I published my first book.

It’s not that greeting prices have gone up so much.

It’s more that book prices have come down so much.

A greeting card is basically a book cover.

So surely if we squeeze a hundred or more pages into that space, it should be worth more… Right?

99-cent books. Think about it. Are these books not even worth as much as a greeting card?

At least, old-fashioned printed greeting cards.

There are many free e-greeting cards.

When print-on-demand greeting cards become popular, I guess those prices will drastically drop, too. At least, if indie p-o-d greeting cards ever become as popular as Kindle e-books.

A more popular comparison is between an e-book and a cup of coffee.

But greeting cards left a stronger impression with me. It’s basically a book cover!

I know, book covers are worth a lot of money. Great book covers often cost $200 to $1000 to make. Even so, those books still often sell for 99 cents to $3.99, much like greeting card prices.

It’s almost like writing a hundred thousand words is worth nothing at all.

(Now just wait until some ‘author’ publishes a fifty-word ‘book’ on Kindle and markets it as a ‘greeting card’ that you can ‘gift’ to friends and family. I hope I didn’t just give anyone a ‘bright’ idea…)

Chris McMullen

CopyrightΒ Β© 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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24 comments on “Is a Book Worth More than a Greeting Card?

  1. You’ve certainly got a point! People dont bat an eyelid at forking out a fiver on a card, but will often wait till authors drop their price to 99c or free to get a book. Why? Sometimes I think us Indies are our own worst enemy… we have conditioned the reader to expect this, no one forced us to put our books out there for free. We are just so desperate to be read…

  2. It’s definitely strange. Especially when you look at longevity of the product. A greeting card is a one-time use item while a book can be reread. So I can kind of see why cards have a higher price in some respect.

  3. Interesting comparison. Since my books are priced at $0.99 and $2.99 I’ve thought of them as costing less than a cup of coffee. But drinking a coffee or signing/presenting/appreciating greeting cards are operations that take only a few minutes; reading books (especially 100K-plus epics) requires time and effort on the part of the reader. I sometimes wonder how many free or cheap ebooks are actually read. There are so many books out there now, and more being produced every minute. Supply exceeds demand, so prices descend. Getting published is easy; making your books seen as worth readers’ time and money is hard.

  4. It’s a question I often ask myself. I can’t really place the intellectual -and personal- value of a book, compared to, say, songs, paintings, art or anything else. It seems that $2.99 is too little for something that took a year of hard work to be created. On the other hand, I can’t understand why a footballer should get paid millions for running behind a ball.
    Being a writer myself, I’ve decided that people who create something should get paid, no matter how much. And I try to live by that.

  5. It’s the same pricing principle. Just add $3 onto what it cost to print the book. $0.01 greeting card is now $3, but the book you printed for $4 is now $7. There are just so many books online that you have to drop the prices just to get people to try them. If there were less books, people would spend more, but since the market is flooded with books the laws of supply and demand dictate that the price goes down. Why would someone pay $4 for my ebook when Amazon advertises a similar book that’s only $0.99?

  6. Different markets. Not to be a spoilsport about it, but each reader can use only a couple anniversary cards a year – and they should be unique (within the family). But readers can devour 500 books in a year if they try. And the individual book can be read by many people – it’s an abundance model. I think the greeting cards are more like what Dean Smith calls a produce model – who wants a Valentine Day’s card in March?

    Greeting cards are more like traditional publishing: put out in the store for a few weeks, and then discarded.

    Does anybody sell real greeting cards online so you can browse? I have the devil of a time getting cards for my husband.

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