Michele Regenold, Writing for Kids from the Boondocks

A blog about writing for children and the quest for publication.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

First semester is done

I survived my first semester as a Vermont College MFA student with my sanity intact. I wrote about 100 pages of my YA mystery. I learned more about narrative arcs, omniscient point of view, and effective openings to name just a few of the topics I investigated in essays. I also read 100 books for kids.

The one book I had the strongest emotional reaction to (other than the few books I thought were pointless and stupid) was also the saddest, Deborah Wiles's Each Little Bird That Sings. Deb is joining the VC faculty so I hope I get a chance to ask her how she could do that to the dog.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

On prices and sizes of books

I went to Borders in Ames yesterday to look for a couple of new kids' books that I've heard about. I have them on hold at the library, but for one in particular, Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, there was quite a long queue.

So I bought The Book Thief in hard cover for $16.95 (its list price). Its cover measures approximately 5.75 by 8.5 inches. This YA novel has about 550 pages, fairly tight leading (especially when compared to middle grade novels; I've heard it was originally published in Australia as an adult book), and a smallish font--maybe 10 points. This seems like quite a bargain, especially when compared to hard covers for adults.

Not all books are the same size, of course, but hard cover novels for adults are generally a bit bigger than those for kids and teens.

I measured the cover of Jimmy Carter's historical novel The Hornet's Nest that my husband had lying around. Its dimensions are about 6.625 by 9.5 inches. It has about 460 pages, similar leading to The Book Thief, and a slightly larger font--probably 11 points. The list price is $27.

I wonder if adult books actually cost that much more to produce than kids' books. I know that adult writers' advances are typically much larger, and obviously their royalties will be too since their books cost more. But how much more does the book itself cost to print and distribute? Does the size difference justify the $10 price difference?

I'm sure there are lots of other factors at work. It would be really interesting to see a price breakdown. Are adult novels generally more profitable than kids' novels?

I rarely buy adult hard cover novels except as gifts or unless they're by Sara Paretsky, my favorite mystery writer. Buying them for myself seems frivolous.

I looked at Elizabeth Peters's latest Amelia Peabody mystery in hard cover yesterday, but I wasn't tempted to buy it. I love that series, but it's too light to invest $27 in. I'll just wait and read the library copy.