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Children's indies concerned over cover prices
16.05.11 | Caroline Horn
Publishers are remaining tight-lipped about recent price increases in books for children and teenagers. Price increases have seen some young adult titles being priced at £18, with some paperback fiction given an £8.99 price tag.
Independents have raised concerns about the price rises which they believe are largely, but not solely, in response to discounting on the high street. Kate Agnew, owner of the Muswell Hill Children's Bookshop, said: "There has been quite a hike over the past year and we're not sure why."
The increases have been seen across all age ranges, with picture book paperbacks rising from an average of £5.99 to £6.99, while fiction for younger children is now more than £5. Agnew said: "This is problematic when we are doing events in schools and children only have £5 to spend. It also affects the gift market, as parents who would have bought two books for £10 now often can't. Some decide to go and buy a toy instead."
Booksellers pointed to titles including The Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Puffin)—where the cover price will rise to £12.99 for this autumn's launch, up from £10.99 last year—and The Wrong Pong, a book for younger children that is being priced at £5.99. The Emerald Atlas (RHCB), a hardback novel for children aged 9+, is also priced at £12.99.
However, the young adult market has seen the greatest increases, said Sonia Benster, owner of The Children's Bookshop in Huddersfield. She said: "We have had to move out of the teen market as we just can't compete; we can't offer discounts and these books have become too expensive for our customers."
Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight (Doubleday) was priced at £18.99 in hardback, while Scholastic is charging £8.99 for a paperback of Philip Reeve's Scrivener's Moon. Many young adult paperbacks are now priced at £7.99, up from £6.99.
Ruth Swindon, owner of The Bookworm in north London, said they were losing sales following the increases. "We can't offer the same level of discounts as other retailers, and as cover prices increase, we are taking a hit."
Agnew added: "People come to independents because they know they will leave with a book that a child will want to read—but they will only pay so much of a premium for that service."
Publishers contacted by The Bookseller to discuss the issue were unable to comment.