Traditional (paper) publishing costs, how much have they decreased?

Anyone have any data/info on how much (if anything) traditional paper publishing has decreased/increased in costs over the last 20 years?

Does it cost more or less to print say a novel than it did 20 years ago?

I don’t have exact details - Jonathan Chance probably would know - but in the book industry there’s no doubt that paper prices have increased tremendously over the past 20 years.

In fact, the trend has been going on longer than that. Many of the large format magazines - Life, Look, Fortune, Esquire - went to the smaller and more more standard size in the 1970s. This wasn’t entirely because of paper prices - advertisers didn’t like having to compose ads in different sizes - but those costs were a huge part of it. For the same reason, newspapers went from a standard eight-column size to a standard six-column size.

Book prices have increased faster than inflation for decades.

Just out of curiosity, why would you think that costs have decreased?

While the cost of paper may have gone up, it’s only one part of the equation. A lot of the costs of type-setting have gone down, especially since you can now move pretty directly from an author’s word-processor document to the final version for printing. This means that’s it’s become much cheaper to publish small editions of books, and hence there are many more titles being published these days, by an increasing number of small publishers. But I don’t have any exact figures on this.

You’re right - somewhere near a 50% rise over the 1990s

Magazine’s are a different game of which I’m a player.

Yes, it’s become significantly easier to layout and design a magazine due to increases in technology. But printing, ink and transportation charges are eating all of that up and more. It’s not a good time to have a magazine in the marketplace.

You’re confusing two different trends, I think. While it’s true that typesetters used to be a major cost for newspapers - leading to some incredibly ugly union-breaking wars when computerized typesetting came in - they were a comparatively minor cost for book publishers.

And the overwhelming reason that small editions of books can be published profitably today is because books can be printed on copiers rather than on printing presses. Yes, this wouldn’t be possible if they weren’t done off of electronic documents but it’s the form of printing that was the big breakthrough. Even if this does mean that many of those small presses will reproduce exactly all the mistakes in the original copy.

The increase in numbers of book published and numbers of publishers is staggering. While I used to have a rule of thumb of 50-75,000 books published a year in the U.S., I hear that the current number is 175,000. But that increase is extremely misleading. The total number of additional copies of books sold from those 100,000 new titles is probably less than what Harry Potter 6 will sell all by itself. That’s right, the average number of copies sold of a book from an iUniverse or PublishAmerica or through typical self-publishing is less than 100.