Is a book worth more than…?

Book Worth


How much money do you spend on…?

one roll of toilet paper

a box of screws

a candy bar

popcorn or soda at the movies

one greeting card

tipping a waitress


baby formula

a pack of underwear


a gallon of gasoline

one dozen eggs

garbage bags

a book of stamps

vitamins and supplements

a cup of coffee


hair dye

a pack of condoms

diet pills

a book that becomes your focus and source of joy or inspiration for weeks

Copyright Β© 2014 Chris McMullen

33 comments on “Is a book worth more than…?

  1. I believe popcorn and soda at the movies is almost as expensive as tuition at a community college. What does it say about people wanting to spend a lot of money on things with a one-time use, but get multiple use stuff for free?

  2. I wonder if it’s because books don’t provide instant, effortless gratification. “Consuming” a book takes more time than drinking a coffee and more effort than playing a song. And let’s face it — with the pent-up mass of writing released since self-publishing became cheap, easy and respectable, there are way more books than readers. Maybe devaluation was inevitable. (But really, does any self-pubbed author want to go back to the old days?)

  3. The problem, I think, is uncertainty in the mind of the prospective purchaser. Of course a well-written book is worth more than a measly 99 cents of anyone’s hard-earned, but the reader doesn’t know that until they get to the end. Perhaps 99 cents is the price at which many people will take the risk they might not like the book and throw it in the ‘bin’ (I think you New Worlders call them ‘trashcans’). The solution may be an ‘honesty box’, whereby if you liked the book you top up the original 99 cents to an amount deemed appropriate by the author (just after ‘The End’), or you make some sort of donation that reflects your enjoyment of the book. In fact, your list, Chris, would look great on the last page of a book. ‘If you enjoyed this book more than items on this list, please donate accordingly…’

    I tend to look at music for comparison. I pay the sterling equivalent of about 15 dollars for a record, maybe 25 dollars for an album (yes, I still buy vinyl). I know I have put way more effort into writing my novel than a musician puts into composing songs on a record, even if it’s an album. It doesn’t take 4 years to put an album together. I should be looking at a minimum of $15 for my novel, maybe $25, but here we return to that uncertainty. I know what I’m getting with the record, I’ve heard the tracks on some Youtube channel or whatever (in younger days I would have heard them live or on some radio station), but the prospective purchaser of my (first) novel knows nothing about it other than my marketing material. Talking of which, maybe I should start producing some for the launch in 2015, otherwise I’m going to make $0.00 of anyone’s money…

    • Yes, there is a trust factor.

      The choose your own price, or feel free to add a donation, tactic has been used. It didn’t quite seem to work out, but the second option does allow for possible ‘tips.’ At the end of Hugh Howey’s Wool, there is a cool Q & A section, and one of the questions asks why it was so cheap, for which part of the response mentions that there is an option to make a donation. It would be cool if you could leave a tip for the author on an e-book purchase (but not if the royalties diminished to compensate!). Good luck with your book.πŸ™‚

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