Easton Press - Reverse Engineering (1,104 words)
by Bob Hacker
This analysis of Easton Press is based on reviewing only four control packages and without the benefit of seeing any list segmentation or program performance figures. Targeting is inferred from product definition, copy platforms and appeals.
The Basic Business
The first thing we see is that the business is based on a few fundamentals that don't change:
• The content always appears to be of high intrinsic value because of the author and/or the subject matter.
• All titles are presented as "limited" or "special" and use exclusivity and "fear of loss" to build value.
• The titles are either out of print or in the public domain. Thus the rights to publish these titles are probably inexpensive or free.
• Easton self-publishes, thus its cost of goods sold is low.
• All volumes are bound in leather with 22-karat gold foil stamping. This probably does two things for Easton Press:
• Allows Easton to charge high prices—at about $40 per volume it charges about 100 percent higher than best sellers at retail and 800 percent higher than books on the remainder shelf.
• Expands its universe—it not only appeals to "readers" but also "collectors," "investors" and "home decorators" who buy Easton books "by the foot" because they look great on the shelf.
• The per-unit margin is probably over $30 on a $40 sale!
Let's look at a simple P&L on "The Greatest Shakespeare Library Ever Published." Key assumptions:
• 39 volumes in the set.
• Price per book is $41.50, sold in three-volume sets. First and all subsequent orders are $124.50.
• Cost of goods sold is $10 per volume, probably conservative.
• Shipping and handling is $11.95 per book, $5.85 per order. We'll assume S&H is a wash and also covers the cost of collection and reload offers.