on October 28, 2009 by eldar in Corporate Parasites, Personal Notes, Comments (0)

The real price of a book

I am reading Tony Robbins’ “Awaken the Giant Within” and I find myself falling asleep… How does it happen? Is his book boring? No. Is it worthless? Absolutely, no! So, why is it that I cannot keep my attention up while reading an internationally acclaimed success trainer? Well… Ughm…

You see, his book is more than 500 pages long. I just made an experiment, and one page requires almost exactly 3 minutes of my time to read it attentively, in fact, even a bit more. Yes, sure, speed reading would help, but that’s not what you want reading a really good book. 500 pages to 3 minutes make 1500 minutes to read it just once cover to cover. If you floundered arithmetic classes in your elementary school, let me tell you, that’s 25 hours of your time. Or, more than 3 work days of intensive work without interruptions, not even bathroom breaks! In reality, that’s more like a week of work.

It’s really odd, but somehow the American public treats buying books the same way as buying beef, pork or potatoes – by the pound. Somehow, the thicker the book is, the better it sells and the higher price you can demand. Isn’t it odd?

Think about it. A 500 pages book requires a work week of my time. I don’t know about your income, so lets assume something average. According to the U.S. Census Bureau average (mean) personal income for both sexes age 25-64 is about $44K, or about $844/week. Tony Robbins’ book I mentioned above has a very moderate price of $16, but once you factor in the time you have to spend readings it, the cost of ownership goes up to $860. Really. $16 for the book and $844 for the time you spend reading it. That’s what an average employer pays to an average employee for a week of work. And you spend a week of work to read that book. That defines the real cost of the book.

Imagine that you can buy a book and magically instantly know everything that was in the book. Would it be worth $860? Still, when you buy a $16 book with 500 pages, that’s what your expectations are. Weird, isn’t it?

It’s odd, but when the public buys books by the pound, the publishers have no other way to go, but to comply and produce large books. The result? The market dominated by the “books by the pound”. The result? ROI (Return-On-Investment) for book readers falling down. The next result? Book reading is not treated socially as an attractive career proposition or real self-improvement.

If this trend will continue, the American public will become the least literate in the world (if it’s not already), and for good reason! It will be deprived of high quality literature by the invisible force of the market, so reading won’t bring the benefits anymore, it once did. Can something be done about it? I don’t know… When I write my books, I am conscious of readers’ time, and my books are on average 200 pages only. However, I can tell you first hand, if I’d want them to be successful, I’d have to beef them up at least twice or more before any established publisher will even consider it.

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