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The Value of a Book

Updated: May 5, 2022

Each of our authors, at some point in time, has to decide on the retail price of their book. This is usually an interesting conversation. Most of them, being believers in Christ, don't really "want to make money", they just want to "share" what they have learnt or lived through or have conceived that the Lord wanted them to present to the world. This is really noble, and I must admit, initially, this was my own sentiment as well. But the Lord has since shown me that this kind of thinking cheapens the work He wants to do through His faithful children who sincerely want to answer the call on their lives to write.

Why do I say that? Well, first of all, the labourer is worth his wages. It's a Biblical principle. If you work hard, you have earned your keep. And writing (and editing and publishing) is very hard work. Long hours of staring at a glaring screen while typing away, mostly at night, since most authors have a day job too.

However, it's not just the hard work, which can take literally years to complete, that adds the value, it's what had happened before there ever was any idea that a book was to follow. It's the life lived, the lessons learnt, the experiences over many years. It's the time spent with God, wrestling through many trials and tribulations. It's hours and days and years of learning, imagining, praying, studying, suffering, wondering, implementing, practicing, honing, and mastering.

I always compare the value of a book to the fifteen minutes at the doctor's office. You don't pay for fifteen minutes of his or her time. You pay for the years of studying and the years of experience before you entered the room. Those years cost time and money.

Books cost money. Yes, if you print thousands, the per copy cost is quite low, but you still have to fork out that money to print them in the first place. In a boutique publishing house, like ours, fewer copies are printed because most of the authors pay for it themselves. This means they are also more expensive to print. But besides the paper they're made of, these books also cost thousands of man hours of writing, planning, editing, re-writing, designing, formatting, laying out, proofreading, advertising, etc. The list of stuff that goes on behind the scenes is very long! Nowadays, I give my authors an Excel calculator that takes into account everything they've literally spent on the book in order to help them make that difficult decision. But there is no "column" for pre-book-life-lived-cost, because it is immeasurable.

Anything worth anything has a (high) price. Receiving something for free (or at low cost) devalues it. As a result, it's taken for granted. Like potable water and clean air. We take it for granted, therefore, we don't look after it. We don't treasure it. We don't take it seriously.

But salvation is free, you might think. It's not. Jesus paid a very high price. He paid with His precious blood. He suffered. And we take our "free" salvation for granted, don't we?

If something costs us a good amount, then we treasure it more, we pay attention to it, and we are more likely to share our experience of it... wanting others to also enjoy what we've come to value dearly.

So, next time when you think, Phew that's expensive! even though it's the price of two pizzas that are gone tomorrow... think again. That price is a feeble attempt to put a monetary value on something that is actually priceless!

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