Book Bar-codes

bar codes and printed barcodesYou'll see bar-codes on the back of most professionally-produced books. One of the bar-codes refers to the price, and the other (larger) will be the ISBN. How do you get these bar-codes for your own book?

Both will be supplied by the POD company if you take this route. Otherwise, if self-publishing, the ISBN barbed may be supplied by the ISBN agency, leaving you to produce a price code for the price. In fact you can find many companies on the Internet that will supply bar-codes for pricing and ISBN. Typically, you pay the small fee, type in the ISBN and price details, and then download the barbed as a graphics (usually TIFF) file. Or you can buy the fonts/software if you'll be using bar-codes frequently.

Bar-codes are best printed with the book cover, but if you forget to do so, or want to change the details later, you can order self-adhesive barbed labels.

ABC. Bar-code fonts from $20.

Bar Code Graphics. ISBN and UPC: $10 per code.

Barcode-US. Labels and software (from $225).

Film Masters. Wide variety of bar-codes, plus information: p.o.a.

IDAutomation. Bar-code creation software.

Morovia. Bar-codes for most requirements.

General Graphics. Wide range of bar-codes and labels: p.o.a.

Barcode Software Center. Truetype bar-codes fonts from $35.

BarcodeIsland. Extensive list of bar-code providers, etc.

Pricing Your Book

What's the best price for your book? What you can get away with is the usual reply, but in fact you have to balance profit margin against numbers sold. $12.99 is obviously the preferred price in the example below:



profit margin

no. sold

total profit













Anticipating sales is anything but easy, of course, why is why the traditional publisher doesn't let you fix the price — and many PoD publishers won't either.

If you're self-publishing, these suggestions may help:

1. Much depends on supply and demand. If yours is the only decent book on Indian native coinages, and there are thousands of collectors out there, you can charge much as you please. Scholars accept that books on specialist areas will be expensive, and companies pay tens of thousands of dollars for one-off marketing studies.

2. If demand is uncertain (fiction and poetry) then you'll price as similar books are priced. Slashing the price won't turn the book into a bestseller, and overpricing will kill it.

3. A handsome edition (illustrations, slightly better layout and paper) may work if the book is going to be treasured — club history, short stories based on a town's local characters. Nonetheless, don't overdo matters: many small POD companies have gone out of business supposing customers will pay extra for individually crafted editions.


If you're not self-publishing, your financial rewards come in the form of royalties, and here you have to scrutinize the contract. Suppose your book retails at $12.95, and the POD company pays royalties at 75%. If royalties are based on the gross cover price, you'll get a handsome 0.75 x $12.95 for each book sold, i.e. $9.71/copy. Very probably, however, royalties are based on the net revenues. From $12.95 are first taken publishing costs, say $4.50 per copy, leaving $8.45. Then, if the book is sold on Amazon, the bookstore commission comes to 55% of the retail price, i.e. $7.12. Take that away from $8.45 and you're left with $1.33. Royalties at 75% of the net revenues are therefore 0.75 x $1.33 or $1.00/copy, a fairly typical figure.

Online bookstores give your productions useful exposure, but may make a nonsense of profits. If you've self-published the $12.95 book, for example, you may well have got costs down to $4.00 per copy. But after Amazon have taken their 55% commission, your profit per book is $12.95 - $4.00 - $7.12 or $1.83. Even if you sell 5000 copies the resulting $9,150 is not a huge sum for the months of writing, publishing and marketing the book. You'll need to consider other bookstores and outlets.


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