UK book price – fixed or variable?

I’m busy setting up a print-on-demand publishing agreement for Fraudcast News with Lightning Source, part of my ongoing and rather haphazard marketing and promotion efforts for the book.

I’ve been told Lightning Source will be a better bet than Lulu, my existing choice, for distribution and trade catalogue services, amongst other things. The idea is that that will help get Fraudcast News into bookshops and elsewhere. I’ll only know for sure once I’ve tried. I failed to tick some box or other when I got started on Lulu which meant that up until now, the book has not shown up via conventional retail channels.

The process is a tedious, time-consuming one, not least because I have to get a new ISBN to identify the book. What would cost me £126 for a block of 10 in the UK is a free service in France, where I live. Amazing that the UK charges so much money for the right to exclusive use of a few digits to identify your publication. Total rip off, if you ask me.

I then used a free online service to convert the new ISBN into a bar code, throwing up the question of what the sequence of digits actually means. I now know that the subsidiary line of code 90000 tells a computer a book has no suggested retail price.

Given that Fraudcast News is free to download as a PDF, it all gets a bit complicated. All the more so given the possibilities of people buying via different retail channels in physical bookshops, online via retailers or direct from Lightning Source itself.

While trying to find out if I had to set a price via the bar code or not, an answer that still escapes me, I came across this interesting piece about national fixed-price book rules versus a free-for-all. It includes the following:

Recently three French economists produced a study comparing 12 European countries, some with fixed price laws and some without, and concluded, “Over the past decade, the growth rate of book prices is weaker in countries with fixed prices than in countries with free prices” and “the increase of new titles is stronger in the countries which have a fixed price.”

At the same time, I’ve also been lucky to get some help from the good people at Positive Money with a re-design of the book cover, a much needed improvement to my own DIY effort.

The result is the following image, which I like a whole lot better.

Fraudcast News cover art


Filed under journalism, publishing

2 responses to “UK book price – fixed or variable?

  1. Tim Gopsill

    Hello Patrick

    Hope this reaches you –can’t find email addy on your site.

    You may recall we met about a year ago in a bar outside Euston station after a meeting with Guy Smallman. I’m the editor of Free Press, the paper of the Campaign for Press and broadcasting Freedom. I think I said then and have certainly thought since that I would like an article from you about Fraudcast news.

    We’d like 800 words by April15. Fraid we can’t pay – even I don’t get paid for editing.

    If you’re interested could you get back to me to discuss the approach etc.



    Whereabouts in France bytheway? Do I remember around Toulouse? We’re in L’Herault, 50 clicks inland from Montpellier. I’m there now as it happens tho returning to London April 8.

    Look forward to hearing from you.


  2. Hi Tim – yes, of course I remember you. You can get me on the email patrickchalmers [at] orange[dot]fr, changing the square bracketed stuff as required. I could certainly do 800 words for you though your fee sounds too generous by current freelance standards (har, har).

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