Proceeds From Book Sales
Over the last several years there has been some discussion over the $34.00 retail price of The URANTIA Book and the $38.00 retail price of Le Livre d'URANTIA. In the course of this discussion, we have noticed a lot of misunderstanding about the pricing structure of the book. In particular, it appears that some people believe we are making large profits from the sale of the book at these prices. We wish to offer the following information in the hope of helping you to understand better where proceeds from the sale of books go.
There are two points to keep in mind before proceeding with this analysis. First, there has long been, and continues to be, a high value placed upon using the commercial book distribution channels, i.e., retail bookstores and distributors. This is done to help prevent us from exhibiting the cultish behavior associated with groups who distribute their publications only through members. Thus, this public availability of the book in thousands of bookstores and libraries helps prevent us from being perceived as a cult and is an important and efficient method of disseminating the book, for many people will be exposed to it while browsing in libraries and bookstores. The second point to remember is that we have to have a discount structure in order to do business with bookstores and distributors.
Our current discount policy is that distributors receive a 50% discount and individual bookstores receive 40%. These discounts are very much in line with normal book trade standards and are neither too generous nor too strict. In fact, good discounts are important to the retail book trade as an incentive to even carry the book because higher profits to the bookstore on fewer books sold makes up for the fact that the book is not a high volume seller. In addition, URANTIA societies receive a 40% discount for quantities of 10 or more books, and anyone can receive a 25% discount for 5 or more books.
Now, let's look at how proceeds are distributed. First, the 25% to 50% discount to the purchaser is subtracted from the $34.00 retail cost. Next, URANTIA Brotherhood is paid a 17% sales commission on the discounted price to distribute the book as URANTIA Foundation's sales agent. This commission pays for the staff time to process orders and ship books. Then, the $10.83 production cost of the book, (which includes storage, insurance, and depreciation of printing plates) is subtracted. Whatever is left is what is available for Foundation programs, not the full $34.00 retail selling price.
Because final figures are not yet available for 1986, let's look at 1985 English version sales figures of books sold through normal distribution channels. Of the 7,724 books sold, 4,029 (52%) were sold at the 50% discount. The Foundation's gross proceeds on these sales would be figured as follows: $34.00 minus 50% discount ($l7.00) = $17.00; minus 17% sales commission to the Brotherhood ($2.89) = $14.11; minus production cost ($10.83) = $3.29. So, on over half of the books we sell, we only receive $3.28 per book
In addition to the books sold at 50% discount, the remaining figures are 2,496 books (32%) sold at the 40% discount, 780 books (10%) sold at 25% discount, and only 419 books (6%) sold at the full retail price of $34.00. At the 40% discount rate, the Foundation nets $6.10, after paying the Brotherhood's commission of $3.47. Combining the percentage of books sold at the higher discount rates of 40% and 50%, we find they account for 84% of all sales. So, on over half of all books sold, the Foundation receives only $3.28 and on another approximately one third, we receive only $6.10. Counting all books sold at the various discount rates, the Foundation receives an average net proceed of $5.67 per book.
We realize we have thrown a lot of numbers at you, but we believe it is important that you understand the small proceeds received even at the $34.00 price. The $5.67 average proceeds per book are all that is available of $34.00 to help pay for Foundation salaries, building maintenance, office equipment and supplies, and all other overhead expenses. If one included the Foundation's overhead, and gift books donated for library placement, we do not make any money on the book. In fact, we take a loss. This means that without your contribution support, we could not continue at our current level of operations, let alone try to expand our services. When all the figuring is done, the bottom line is that less than 25% of the operating budget for the Foundation comes from book sale revenues.
We truly rely on and need your financial contributions, and we wish to again thank you for your previous and, we hope, continued support.
Audio Urantia Book
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Urantia Foundation History