Even the books that Czechs like to give for Christmas are getting more expensive. A new novel by a well-known author used to cost around 300 crowns.
Today’s prices usually exceed 400 crowns, and even new books for 500 or even 600 crowns are no exception. Customers are therefore buying less and often choosing established authors and older, cheaper titles rather than new titles.
“This year, the average recommended price of our books is CZK 405. Last year, it was CZK 366. Books must become more expensive as production costs in printers, energy prices, wages, and other areas have risen. For projects not to be loss-making, we need to get more money from each book sold,” Radek Štěpánek from the host publishing house said.
A book like ten beers
The price of Paseka was also rising. “As a result of the approximately 30 percent increase in the price of input costs for pre-press preparation and printing, the selling prices of books have also risen by about 15 percent,” said Anna Horáčková, the publishing house’s director.
She also confirmed that the higher price is reflected in lower sales. Compared to last year, Paseka saw a decrease of a tenth. “Due to high inflation and the rise in prices of basic food and energy, readers are shifting part of their spending in this direction,” Horáčková noted.
The range of products that customers buy in bookstores is also changing. “Customers are logically saving money. They don’t seem to be going to bookstores or book e-shops less, but they are buying fewer books. The increase in the price of new releases leads to the fact that they often buy an older title with an even lower price,” Martin Bedřich, editor-in-chief of the Portál publishing house, said.
He hopes that the book market could benefit from this. “A possible positive could be that readers will choose more carefully the precious books, which will have the quality of, for example, a good gift, and thus there will be a natural selection where quality will prevail over quantity,” Bedřich noted.
The traditional gift
“However, most Czech readers are probably not yet ready for quality fiction to cost over CZK 500. The intuitive rule formulated by the deserving publisher Horáček that a book should cost about the same as ten beers confirm the above,” says the publisher.
According to him, the increase in book prices this year by 15 to 20 percent has not even come close to offsetting the increases in paper prices, energy costs, rents, wage demands, or salaries for authors. Paper alone has risen in price by 30 to 50 percent, Bedrich pointed out.
Still, many publishers expect Christmas sales, the year’s highlight, to be successful. “Based on the first data from the pre-Christmas and Christmas seasons, we expect sales to be similar to those achieved in 2021. But it is still too early to make an assessment,” Petr Lovecky, sales director of Moba Publishing House, said.
“People are reaching for books as a proven, valuable, and still relatively cheap gift,” believes Štěpánek of the Host publishing house. “For many publishers and booksellers, the pre-Christmas period is crucial in deciding whether or not they will keep their business. The news from the market varies, with the larger houses reporting a slightly positive take-up. At the same time, the smaller booksellers are not so optimistic,” added the editor-in-chief of Portal Bedřich.
“The pre-Christmas buying didn’t start in October, as it used to in better years. It only kicked off in November, so it remains to be seen. Unfortunately, no miracles are expected,” he concluded.