Amazon Printing Cost Increase

Amazon Printing Cost Increase

If you have print books on, you have probably already received an email explaining that printing costs are going up on June 20th at 12:00 AM UTC (June 19th at 8:00 PM EDT). I received the email May 23rd.

The letter explains that, depending on the current price of your books, and if you do nothing, your royalties will either decrease or could become zero.

The choices of action include:

  • Running a one-time bulk list price update on all of your live paperback or hardcover list prices to increase your prices so they will continue to earn the same royalty
  • Visit the price tab for each of your live print books and make changes individually

Here is a link to frequently asked questions with printing cost tables at the bottom of the list of questions:

FAQs and Printing Cost Tables

Printing cost = “fixed cost” plus (“per page cost” x “page count”)

In the market (the U.S.):

From my reading of the tables it appears that for a paperback that is no larger than 6”x9”, has 110 – 828 pages, and black ink, the only price increase is the fixed cost (going from $0.85 to $1.00 per book), with the per page cost remaining the same. So, basically a $0.15 increase in printing cost.

I chose to use the one-time bulk list price update. It didn’t show me what the new prices would be immediately. That could take “several weeks,” they said. My thought was that I could look at prices individually after the update had taken effect. Thirty minutes later, I got an email with the updated prices. All my paperbacks were priced low. The increase was $0.25 for each of them, so apparently there was a $0.19 increase for printing costs and a $0.06 increase to keep the royalty the same. I’m not sure I understand that.

For comparison with IngramSpark printing costs, I used a 6”x9” paperback with black ink, cream paper, and 300 pages. IngramSpark’s cost was $5.48. Amazon cost was $4.60.

I would add the following to choices of action:

  • Order any supply of books you will need for in-person events in the near future before the cost goes up.
  • Consider using the coming increase in costs in your marketing, encouraging readers to buy before the prices goes up.

Okay, for discussion today, let’s share our knowledge and advice.

Questions for discussion:

  • Do you have any questions you would like to post for the discussion today?
  • What additional information would be helpful in making a decision on new prices?
  • What advice would you give?
  • What do you plan to do?

27 thoughts on “Amazon Printing Cost Increase

  1. When I first bought back my rights and republished, including new titles since then, I kept the paperback low to bring more attention to the series. It worked. I’d planned to raise the price anyway, so now is as good a time as any. I’m curious what others are charging for a 5.5″x8.5″ paperback, black ink, cream paper.

    • Great question for the discussion: What are other writers charging for their books?

      My books are 6″x9″, paper back, black ink, cream paper, around 300 pages. I was charging $9.99. With the bulk converter, they went to $10.24.

      Thanks for adding the question to the discussion today!

    • Hi Sue,

      My books are 5.5 x 8 inches, so a half inch less than standard trade paperback. I’m charging $14.99 on Amazon for all of them save my short story collection which is at $11.99 and my novella “Renegade,” which is at $7.99. My new mystery is $15.99 through Draft2Digital, because that put the royalty for library sales at just over two bucks. I’m thinking I’ll raise the Amazon price to $15.99 to match it.

      The prices are competitive with traditionally published novels. In fact, I did some comparison with a couple of small presses and saw my prices were still $1-3 cheaper.

      BTW, in the case of my fantasy novels, I’ve sold just a fraction of print relative to ebook. Print to ebook sales for my mystery novel is nearly twenty five percent. I’d heard that cozy mystery readers like print, and, at least initially, I’ve seen that.

  2. Morning, Steve.

    Some months ago, w/o notice, Amazon dropped prices on three of my books. The list was set at $11.95 or $12.99 yet, on the book page, they were priced at $6.64, 8.41, and 4.16. I contacted them and was given the standard line, “Amazon reserves the right to change prices.” However, they did say the royalty paid to me would remain the same as the list price I had set. I verified that with another Amazon rep.

    Then I heard from several other writers that the same thing had happened to them and they received the same answer that they would be paid royalties on the list price.

    I can only guess the reason. These are slower-selling books and they’re trying to get rid of copies. Except with POD, it doesn’t make sense that they’d have many paperbacks in the warehouse. I dunno.

    So if anyone wants to pick up bargains, Stalking Midas, Eyes in the Sky, and Dead Man’s Bluff are cheap.

    • Thanks for that info, Debbie. I’ve had the same experience with Amazon changing prices on my paperbacks, and being told by the reps that the royalty would remain the same. I went from angry to thinking that was nice of them to help with marketing. I never thought very much about the why.

      I went back and reviewed the pricing this morning. Even with the bulk rate price conversion, some of my paperbacks still have price reductions. Probably has nothing to do with their reasons, but with my books, those with the price reductions are earlier books with fewer reviews.

      Thanks for adding this subject to our conversation this morning. Maybe we should have a TKZ bargain day, and let everyone post names of books, descriptions, and price. “Come to our annual bargain book day on TKZ.!”

      Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Hey, Debbie

      I just thought of this. Your last paragraph brings up a good point – keeping an eye on when Amazon drops prices, then jumping on it with our marketing. “50% price drop on Stalking Midas. Get it while it’s hot!”

      Hot thought from Ohio.

  3. Thanks for the informative post, Steve! I also received the email last month, but other than noting it, didn’t take action. I commented above that my books’ print sales have been just a fraction of the ebook ones, but that that has changed with my first mystery. I may make a few price tweaks.

    My suggestion is to research what publishers are charging for print–I like to look at small publishers, and comparing similar print specs. Mine are 5.5 x 8 inches, so a half inch less than typical traditionally published trade books. I compared mine to my friend Patrick Swenson’s Fairwood Press titles and see that I’m $1-3 less. Same for WordFire, the company Kevin J. Anderson established which has printed books for several of my fantasy/sf author friends.

    Questions to add to today’s discussion: How many author copies do you order at a time? Do you keep a stock on hand, or just order enough for a specific book signing or local fair?

    • Great questions, Dale.

      I usually order about 20 books and keep some copies on hand to sign and give away.

      I have a question for you. What all do you consider in choosing the size of the print book? I was told some time ago that 6″x9″ incurred the lowest printing cost. Have you run across research showing which size readers prefer? Do certain genres have preferred sizes? Anything else that goes into choosing dimensions of print books?


      • I like the smaller format, but when I chose it back in early 2017, I compared the different sizes of trade paperbacks on the shelves at the branch library I worked at (a larger branch) and found that 5.5 x 8 or 8.5 was common. My fantasy novels average around 65K so the small format suits them. It’s easy to hold and transport. Larger than mass market, but still evokes that a bit, I think.

        • Thanks, Dale

          The 6 x 9 books are a little thinner. I always wondered if readers felt like they weren’t getting as much book.

          Thanks for sharing your research.

  4. Great information, Steve. I received the email from Amazon about the price increase, but hadn’t read it carefully yet. It’s on this week’s to-do list. 🙂

    Thanks for giving us the bottom line. My print books are 6X9, so it looks like a 15 cent increase. I don’t sell many print books, so I’ll just absorb that cost.

    Good tip about ordering author copies. I need to replenish my supply of all my books, so I’ll add that to the to-do list and get it done today!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Kay

      With “absorbing that cost,” you might want to experiment with an individual title’s price (on KDP’s bookshelf page), and make sure the current price doesn’t put you below a threshold where you don’t earn any royalty.

      Thanks for your thoughts, and have a productive weekend!

        • You deserve more than that, Kay. Tell your readers that your royalty did not go up. The increase is feeding the Zon guy. Those extra few pennies are paying for the coffee to keep you sending out their Twitter tweets.

  5. Good topic for us Indies, Steve. I have a printing background, so my take is slanted that way. Couple of points:
    * I use Amazon KDP for my POD (Print on Demand). I’ve watched POD evolve over the years from “kinda horrible” to “good enough.” (I used to consult for HP, one of the pioneers in the POD space.) Currently, I’m satisfied with my paperbacks from Amzn. Have not tried Ingram.
    * I’ve noted the printing increases on my Royalties chart (checking each individually), and I’ll just absorb the print cost increase without increasing any prices. The psychological benchmarks of $.99 and $.95 are too ingrained in our culture to be changing prices to reflect the slight increases. My pbks are priced from $12.95 to $15.95, mostly due to genre and comparables.
    * My later (shorter) paperbacks are uniformly 5.25×8.0 inches (one of the standard sizes). These feel best in my hand. My first saga-length historical fiction is 5.5×8.5. The 6×9 size feels too big and non-fictiony to me. Smaller trim sizes also allow me to produce beefier books on smaller word counts (~50-55k). But this is also interior-design dependent; another topic of conversation.
    * I uniformly use Cream for my interior paper choice, and I LOVE the velvety Matte (vs Gloss) cover finish.
    * Like others here, my ebooks are way more popular than my paper ones, which is another reason I’m not sweating the POD price increase.

    • Great treasure trove of information here, Harald. Thanks!

      With your background in printing, it’s reassuring to know that you are using Amazon.

      You make an excellent point about the psychological impact of benchmarks like .99 and .95. I think I will check my prices for individual books and see if I’m still making some royalty if I absorb the printing cost increase.

      Your discussion of trim size is excellent. That word, “beefy,” also has something to do with the psychological effect. Definitely something to think about before starting a series.

      I also like the matte finish for fiction.

      Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

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