Earlier this week Viking increased the price of Amanda Gorman’s forthcoming poetry collection CALL US WHAT WE CARRY to $24.99, up from $19.99 when it was first announced. (The ebook and audio prices remained the same.) A month ago, the publisher moved back the publication date from September 21 to December 7, and retitled the book. First announced in January, the collection enjoyed significant preorders and promotional campaigns from retailers at the original price point.
Copper Dog Books in Beverly, MA is among the stores that ran a preorder campaign, encouraged by PRH, and co-owner Meg Wasmer was happy to have those sales in January, a generally slow month. They said it seems as if PRH will coordinate with stores to honor those orders at the original price. If the store has to absorb the difference in price on those preorders, “The costs for that will have been a shift worth of bookseller pay,” they said. Wasmer was among booksellers expressing surprise about the price increase online, as was Brad Johnson at East Bay Booksellers. “It’s another stressor in a very stressful retail environment,” he told PL.
For a hardcover that reportedly is designed and will have a higher page count than many poetry collections at 240 pages, Wasmer said that the new $24.99 price point makes sense. “I’m not mad about the price increase,” they said. “My feelings were caused by the fact that [PRH was] like, ‘get people’s money now’ and then they changed the price on us.”
Indeed, Penguin Young Readers spokesperson Shanta Newlin reported to PL on Thursday morning right after our newsletter went out, the publisher has come up with a plan to protect people on pre-orders already placed: “The final manuscript for Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman, scheduled for release December 7, 2021, is wonderful! It is also nearly three times the length originally planned, and so the price is increasing from $19.99 to $24.99. PRH will honor the original price for all customers who preordered the book prior to the price change, which was effective on August 25, 2021. PRH is currently reaching out to booksellers to discuss the process and logistics for honoring these pre-paid pre-orders. We value our bookselling partners and look forward to launching this rich and timeless collection with them, which explores themes of identity, grief and memory.”
The new collection is likely to enjoy major sales: Gorman’s THE HILL WE CLIMB: An Inaugural Poem For the Country ($15.99), has sold over 475,000 hardcovers since publication on March 30 through outlets tracked by NPD Bookscan, making it the fourth most successful new release of the year so far.
Bookstat.com infers that there was significant pre-order activity at Amazon for the hardcover in January and early February after it was first announced, estimating that there have been roughly 59,000 print pre-orders so far through Amazon alone.