Book It: New Variations in Textbook Prices

Posted on 8/24/2007 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Things have changed in the text and trade book industry. At present, I'm getting pricing requests for circulations of up to 1.5 million, and it is not uncommon to get pricing requests for 500,000 to a million circs.

We used to price text and trade book uses based on circulations of under 40,000 copies and over 40,000. A decade ago, most print runs were under 40,000, according to publishers. Ten years ago, per "Negotiating Stock Photo Prices," the charge was $200 for a quarter page use -- and sellers were charging less to use images.

Here's a look at proportional increases in prices, based solely on print runs.

When the average press run was 40,000, we were getting about a half-cent per-copy-printed for each image used a quarter-page. If we were still getting that half-cent rate -- and, of course, the cost of paper, printing, publishing employees salaries, companion Web site design, the price of the books, etc. has gone up - we would be getting $2,500 per quarter-page use for 500,000 circulation and $7,500 per quarter-page for 1.5 million circulation.

Now, in most cases, publishing companies are paying the same for inside use in a book, regardless of whether the image of the size of the usage. In 1997, the rule was simple: the larger the image, the higher the cost. Today, the only time they pay significantly more is if the image is used on the cover. Most also pay 25% more than the base rate when the book is printed in an additional language and in some cases, 35% more if print and electronic rights are licensed together.

In the last quarter, the average price received for an editorial use was $133, and a huge percentage of those uses were for book publishing.

If we search the Getty Images site, the base price for inside textbook use is between $225 and $290 for a seven-year license, depending on which brand the image is in. Getty adds about 45% when print and electronic rights are licensed together. This takes the top figure to $425. Getty has no breakdowns for size of the usage on the page or for circulation, so the base price could be for quarter-page use with circulation of 100,000 or for full-page use with circulation of 1.5 million.

Getty has no breakdown for additional languages, so the price is the same if the book is printed in both Spanish and English.

If a customer finds the right image in Getty's Rights Ready collection, the price for print use is between $200 and $250, depending on the brand where the image is found. The price for electronic use is between $150 and $200. It is not clear whether these two prices are added together if the customer wants both print and electronic usage. These prices are for unlimited 10-year rights to use the image.

It is also interesting that some publishers are willing to pay more than the above figures if the seller requests. McGraw-Hill will pay $545 for a full-page use with a print run of  over 250,000. The will pay $840 if the picture is used as a spread, and 25% more for each additional language. Harcourt will pay $468 for full-page interior with a press run of over 250,000 for rights to print in both English and Spanish. Pearson Education is one of the lower-paying publishers, and it offers $180 for North American English Rights, a 35% increase for print and electronic use and 25% for each additional language.

Two things seem clear: There is a wide range in rates that publishers are willing to pay for the same usage. Second, agencies aren't always getting the best prices.

Copyright © 2007 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Bill Brooks Posted Aug 27, 2007
    I think agencies are not getting the best prices from publishers because, in the case of most books, agencies are dealing in low prices for bulk sales of generic images. However textbooks often require unique and rare images, to illustrate a particular esoteric fact. Agencies often reject these images because they do not understand them. If agencies have them available, they fail to recognize their value to the publisher, and throw them into the bulk bin.

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