I was thinking about the economics of my Crime Fiction buying. What are they exactly? How many and how much? My Amazon purchases over the last few years would be an accurate reflection of that number. I feel like that leaves out a great deal, and for the purposes of this exercise I want to know what the amount is without it reflecting Amazon's typical 30-50% discount.
The goal here is to produce a number that I can craft a budget around. If I spend 'X' on new books and 'Y' on used books I can plan better. Plan mainly for the 'Y' because the 'Y' figure for used books is unknowable to an extent. I could get HEAVEN'S PRISONERS by James Lee Burke for $200 or $300 depending on the circumstances. The latest Michael Connelly is going to be $27.95, and the one next year is going to be the same price or a dollar or two more. I can plan for the incremental movements of that situation more than I can in the used market where the price can move in one direction...usually up...significantly and quickly.
The first useful objective is to define The Hungry Detective Core Collection. What authors do I buy?
Ace Atkins, Mark Billingham, Stephen Booth, James Lee Burke, Sean Chercover, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Clive Cussler, Sean Doolittle, James Ellroy, Alan Furst, Chris Grabenstein, Steven Hockensmith, Maureen Jennings, Craig Johnson, Laurie R. King, Michael Koryta, Dennis Lehane, Michael McGarrity, Adrian McKinty, Edward Marston, Walter Mosley, Marcus Sakey, George Pelecanos, Olen Steinhauer, Troy Soos, Duane Swierczynski, and Fred Vargas.
This sausage fest is twenty-seven authors, about ten more than I thought it would be. It is daunting to consider that I buy this many books year in and year out. Couple this with a desire to add more authors to the core....and you know... daunting. I can whittle that number down a little. A few authors listed here no longer seem to write books or have switched genres to ones that do not interest me. There are also a couple authors on this list for sentimental reasons, and while they continue to write Crime Fiction I no long read them for any number of reasons.
The list can further be cut by another eight to ten authors because they just don't release on a yearly bases. [Editor's Note: Thank you very much...] Most are every other year, but someone like James Ellroy is every four to five. I'll have to figure another metric for these authors.
Then the number can be further parsed by the fact that some authors do paperback originals which shaves the down the cost a bit.
The big intangible here is that I will always pick up a book...or many new books in case of a Bouchercon... for which I never knew I would be interested in. I am not sure what to do here. I have spent that last three years or so being very careful about this kind of purchase. No new books that did directly go to the yearly maintenance of the authors I collect. Still I should account for some number. To that end I'll add back five books to the estimated yearly total.
So the number is twenty. I buy twenty authors year in and year out. Sixteen of those authors produce hardcovers. Four will produce trade paperbacks. Hardback range in price but I averaged it to 26.95. I added California sales tax to that and come up with $29.11 per book. [Editor's Note: Sales tax? Really?]
$29.11 x 16 = $465.76
Trade paperbacks I valued at $14.95, plus the tax of $1.20 is $16.15 per book
$16.15 x 4 = $64.60
As for the eight to ten authors that I will buy every other year, I decided that I will purchase six of those authors in any given year. To account for the variation of buying more some years and less in other, I'll budget the full hard cover price, although some of these purchases will be at trade paper cost. The dual advantage of this likely high estimate is that I will also be purchasing UK only releases which cost north of thirty dollars a book. The overage of these six books will be another contingency factor.
$29.11 x 6 = $161.70
Total - $692.06
Rounding up I am surprised that the amount is only $700. I figured it was at least $1000. [Editor's Note: Well if you add in the used books you are well over $1000 so congratulations.] The fact that it is only $700, means I can do something I have kind of wanted to do for awhile.
I'm breaking up with Amazon....next time on Serial....