Volume business
September 2017 by V. R. Duin


It isn't smart.
To become part
Of the landscape.
We must escape.

There are highs and lows in a volume business, such as publishing books, because high volume sales must offset low margin pricing to be profitable.

Publishing books is a volume business in which high volume sales must offset the low margin pricing, usually a percentage, of retail price markup added to the wholesale cost of each book. Profitability comes with a high volume of book sales. Buyers will not pay a lot for any single book, so low margin pricing is critical to the sale of books. Within this low margin business, it is necessary to create high volume sales. Volume is another name for book. Books selling in the single digits generate very little income. Cumulative profit from publishing books comes with fast-moving inventory, printed on cheaper presses. Low margin pricing and high volume sales can lead to substantial earnings for writers and publishers.

Self-published writers typically sell about 200 books, most of these to personal networks. Writers must reach beyond their own circles for the high volume sales achieved through word-of-mouth promotion. Writers generally must sell 2,500 books to defray startup costs. This same number may also earn the representation of a Literary Agent. Sales of 7,500 books are said to lure traditional publishers. Because publishing is a volume business, commercial value increases each time purchasers take a chance on a book. Books can hold a place in cyberspace, while writers build opportunities for them, but another source of income may be required. It can take over a decade to build a business publishing books. Writing and promotion often are done in the middle of the night or on weekends.

Complicating the income situation for writers is the tax system in the United States for the business of publishing books. Royalties from book sales are treated as earned income, from which contributions must be made to Social Security and Medicare. This further reduces net incomes for writers. Despite low volume sales, writers must file estimated taxes quarterly, whether they operate as businesses or as sole proprietorships. Deductions for outside suppliers, equipment and space may be allowed. Taxation and accounting may require the help of an expert, plus the use of a bookkeeping program to track the financial operations of publishing books. Perhaps these payments should not be called “royalties”.

Writers who buy their own books to give them away may not be developing a sound volume business. People rarely value things that are free. Therefore, these gifts may not benefit from word-of-mouth promotion. The only reason writers should order their own books is to sell them or to test the integrity of the sales reports, turnaround times and quality control measures at the book publishing house. A publisher does not make a generous profit unless and until books are selling by the thousands. Independent printers may cut corners or fail to report sales of books printed in small numbers on demand. Bulk orders are printed less expensively on offset presses, including at many self-publishing houses.

A high volume business approach to content generation is being used by established influencers to generate traffic to their websites and to raise interest in their content. The Future is More Content: Jeff Bezos, Robots and High Volume Publishing. This high volume content approach works best for writers with an existing audience for their known, authoritative and quality content. Volume businesses often use per-click and per-impression advertising to gain followers and crowdfunding to expand and distribute content. However, crowdfunding may not guarantee full credit to contributors or achieve fundraising goals.

In addition to the considerable challenges of the new publishing environment of website design, security concerns and SEO, writers must remain alert to developing trends. For instance, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies may influence or limit the future size of the business market for book publishing. Many organizations are turning to Bitcoin and other blockchain technologies for purchases and for payments.

Cryptocurrencies eliminate middlemen and third-party institutions from financial transactions. They may create a simpler and more stable solution to global finance than the existing sovereign currencies and currency exchanges. The future role of cryptocurrencies is unclear, but they are changing the financial world. Countries are looking into establishing their own sovereign cryptocurrencies. The question is not if, but How soon blockchain technology will change currency as we know it.. Expect changes in payment methods to reach the volume business of publishing books.


  • high volume sales admin says:

    In businesses with high volume sales, mistakes are common, making it important to audit for failures and efficiencies in the sale of books.

  • Low margin pricing admin says:

    Low margin pricing is typically found in highly competitive fields with inexpensive products, like publishing books, in which large quantities sold can make up for low profit on each book.

    • volume businessadmin says:

      A volume business, like publishing books, will avoid costly press resets and focus on building a mass market following for the fewest possible titles.