Why Are Children’s Books So Cheap?

Children’s books form an integral part of the publishing market that’s, perhaps surprisingly, more sustainable than publishing for adults. As a result, there are several reasons that cause a significant difference in the pricing of children’s books vs the pricing of adult books.

Children’s books are cheap because they have lower production costs in labor, material, and the number of copies printed. Marketing and distribution costs are also lower. Finally, they’re cheaper than adult books because the wide selection forces publishers to price their books competitively.

In this article, I’ll explore why children’s books are so cheap and factors that might influence the price of different books.

Factors That Affect Pricing of Children’s Books

Several factors influence the pricing of children’s books, making them cheaper and more affordable than books for adults. We’ll explore some of these factors below to explain why children’s books are cheap.

Production Costs

Production costs refer to the expenses involved in producing the book. These costs include:

  • Editing
  • Proofing
  • Processing
  • Arranging
  • Typesetting
  • Printing
  • Binding

They also include the material costs of paper and ink. These can directly affect the costs depending on the quality of the paper and the colors in the illustrations.

Production costs also include overheads like salaries and wages for people employed by the publishing house rent for office buildings.

While most of these expenses remain the same across books, children’s books manage production expenses in two ways. The first is because of the brevity of children’s books.

As books written for children are shorter and simpler, the average children’s book doesn’t need as much time to edit and process compared to the longer books written for adults. Additionally, the length also means a reduction in the number of pages, which automatically reduces paper and ink expenses, even with the expenses of colors for illustrations.

With the growth of paperbacks, the production costs of books have reduced further since paperbacks are cheaper to produce than hardcovers.

The second way children’s books manage publishing expenses is by printing large numbers. Children’s books enjoy more certainty in the market than books for adults, and publishers can afford to print large numbers without the fear of unsold copies. Printing many copies is always cheaper than printing smaller copies, which is what makes vanity publishing so expensive.

This way, the costs associated with production are smaller for children’s books.

Marketing and Distribution Costs

Marketing and distribution costs refer to the expenses involved in raising awareness of specific books then reaching these books to consumers.

Whether they publish children’s books or books for adults, most publishers can contain marketing and distribution costs very easily. However, the expenses for children’s books are reduced further because of the sheer volume of books ordered by major consumers like schools, libraries, associations, educational organizations, and governmental organizations for children, among others.

Demand for Books

This brings us to the demand for children’s books.

Children’s books not only have a primary market among the children that read these books, but they’re also purchased by a number of institutions, organizations, and adults who work with children.

Children’s books are frequently purchased by teacher resource organizations and associations, public and private libraries, schools and other educational institutions, and governmental agencies and associations associated with children and education.

With the increase in the number of children reaching reading age, the demand for children’s books has grown slowly but steadily over the years. Most online booksellers have also noted a consistent and growing demand for children’s books – both fictional and education titles.

As children’s literacy remains a priority for all the adults involved in children’s lives from parents, educational institutions, and the government, there’s always a steady demand for children’s books.


An important factor that affects the cost of children’s books is competition.

Not only is there a high demand for children’s books, but there’s also a great deal of competition. From independent publishers to established big names like Penguin and Scholastic, several children’s books are on the market for all age groups.

This competition guarantees that publishers price their books competitively to ensure that their books are sold.

Return of Investment

Intervention programs during early childhood have been studied to show high returns of investment.

For publishers, the return of investment when it comes to children’s books is twofold. The first is that producing affordable, good-quality books brings in readers who might stay loyal to the author and the publisher for a lifetime. The kids themselves will grow into readers who continue to purchase books throughout their lives.

Secondly, parents who buy these books will be able to remember and return to the same publishers for more books as their kids grow older, creating a repeat customer for the next few decades.

What Is a Good Price for a Children’s Book?

A good price for a children’s book is $5-$10, depending on the number of pages, the quality of the paper, and the number of copies printed, among other things. When printing large numbers, the low cost of printing helps publishers recoup their expenses.

The price for children’s books is significantly affected by the paper quality and labor costs, so picture books and books printed on thicker paper for very young children may present a wider variety in the price range.

What Makes a Children’s Book High Quality?

A children’s book is considered high quality if it has literary merit on topics and themes that children enjoy and illustrations that are relevant to and enhance the plot. The book should also be of the appropriate length and difficulty level for the age group for whom it’s written.

All of these factors influence the quality and, eventually, the book’s price. Nevertheless, publishers will also contain the costs to suit their primary audience.

Final Thoughts

Children’s books are cheaper than books for adults because they cost the publisher less in production, marketing, and distribution expenses. The market for children’s books is also very competitive, requiring publishers to price the books so that they’re affordable for their primary audience.


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