Home > Uncategorized > A quick note on book prices and value

A quick note on book prices and value

At the moment I am helping John a little bit with his two 1.e4 books (they are happening, I promise you!). We are quite a far way with Playing 1.e4 – Caro-Kann, 1…e5 & Minor Lines, and I have begun working on a few lines that I have some experience with. Obviously this is just a sneaky way to slip one or two of my own games into the book, though I think John will be efficient and delete them when he gets his hand on the files!

Anyway, I was looking at the competition in this process. We always do – with the hope that you will use our discoveries to win a game against one of their suggestions!

In the process I saw a distinct difference between two types of books. For example: I really liked two books on the Caro-Kann, Houska’s new book from Everyman and Dreev’s “Attacking the Caro-Kann” from Chess Stars. Jovanka and I play in the same team at the 4NCL and I know how much work has gone into that book. Dreev has probably been less diligent, but he has such a range of knowledge that although he missed a big, big line (John’s main suggestion) it was in a footnote on something he did not recommend and not what you would buy the book for anyway.

But there are other books – and here I shall not mention any names – where you are wondering where your €25 went. One book is word for word reprinting of articles the author has published elsewhere – without updating them in regard to other works out on the subject, even when rather important things have happened. And in a training video I saw, the author had clearly spent less time researching the line than he spent recording the thing. I really felt less informed afterwards, though I did learn 1-2 small tricks I did not know before, though arguably, I will never find any use for them, I fear.

What lead me to write this post was a comment on Facebook about chess books being expensive. I thought that this was something I would like to put to rest with a list of observations.

•   Books from Quality Chess costs the same as they did in 2004 when we published our first two titles
   Quality Chess did not turn a profit till around 2009
   We are seven people working in Quality Chess – in 2014 we published 11 new titles. This year we will publish a good deal more, but the picture of lots of hours going into every book persists
   A typical Quality Chess author will spend months working hard on writing a book. Personally I spent months on the Gelfand book and Boris spent quite a while on it as well (though it is easier to talk than it is to write and rewrite!)
   The book mentioned as expensive was one of the Grandmaster Preparation books. I know of no one that will be able to go through any of those books in less than 50 hours. This means high quality training (at least I like to think so) at €0.50 an hour. I charge £100 per hour for private training. This might be too much, but the difference cannot be ignored no matter what
   When a book is sold to a reader, we do not get the lion’s share. The retailer takes 50% and if you buy it through Amazon or some other place that gives a small discount, we have to pay a middleman that takes 33% of what is left. On top of this we have expenses of printing, shipping, storage, handling and not to forget, authors!

Now my point is really simple. If you buy a book or video where no work has been done by the author to learn something new that he can communicate to you, €25 might be a big outgoing. I sometimes feel that when we buy a book for our library and I open it to see what is in there (see above). There is an author from a competing company that puts out a book almost every month. I am sure that he has got something going for him, who would not get better with so much practice? But to be honest, we have stopped buying his books a long time ago. He is not that strong a player and he did not give himself the time to learn anything new. Sorry, I think we know more than he does about his subject, even after he worked on it…

What we have done and continue to do, which is our attempt at having a competitive advantage, is to demand high standards and to check everything we get extensively. We still make mistakes, but they are not unforgiveable mistakes. We have done some of those and we learned from it, I hope.

So the next time you think about a chess book being expensive, or hear your friends say that, consider this:

Are you judging a book on its physical size (one of our competitors clearly use low quality paper because it makes the books look bigger!)
How much work went into the book? Did the author learn anything new in the process?
Is the content of real value to you or is it something that will not help you when you are at the board?

Quality Chess has the reputation I was hoping for when I first imagined the company. I knew that we were not as strong players as Nunn and Chandler. I knew we did not have the network of New in Chess. But I believed that if we worked hard and continued to work hard, we could more than make up for it. Most people I know lie to me and tell me we pulled it off…

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  1. Christian
    May 22nd, 2015 at 10:02 | #1

    Your books are of the best quality available today and of course that will not make them any cheaper than the rest. Keep up the good work!

  2. Gollum
    May 22nd, 2015 at 10:14 | #2

    I do think chess books are expensive, but that is just because I compare them with normal books, which cost 12-15€.

    But you raised two good points:

    First: Chess books are expensive to produce. I don’t know if they are more expensive than a novel, but they have hard work behind it (at least in QC there is, that is obvious). A novel can sell more units, hence reducing fixed costs, so it is normal for it to be cheaper.

    Second: You will spend significantly more time reading a chess book than you will spend reading a novel. Normally my argument against going to the cinema is that I will spend 10€ to have 1h and a half of fun only, and I have a lot of things that will give me more fun time for the same money (or the same fun for a lot less). I think there is nothing better to maximize fun time / money than a good chess book.

    The only thing I do not agree on the pricing policy of QC is the exorbitant price for Forward Chess books. I know that QC has not a good margin on it and that a significant part goes to google or VAT, but nevertheless for me it is impossible to justify buying for 21€ in FC a book that I can have physically for 25€.

  3. Alexander
    May 22nd, 2015 at 12:03 | #3

    My brief comment on the subject, for those who would be interested:

    The wonderful thing about “Quality Chess” is that it IS infact Quality Chess.

    Please guys.. don’t ever think for one second about turning it into “Quantity Chess” instead, even if this results in raising the prices on your books in order to keep up.

    I and, I am almost very certain, everyone else of your regular customers would certainly prefer that things stay the way they are.

    Reflecting upon the question on whether or not your books are expensive.. well, yes – but then again.. if you go and buy.. say a wristwatch of good quality, it is (to some people’s surprice perhaps) ALSO expensive 😀

    Yes – this is not comming from anyone at QC, but from me.. a regular interested chess reader, but the general rule on this planet at least is that you DO pay for quality!

    If you made it this far in the post – I hope you do agree with me.. Let’s support those who puts an effort into publishing useful chessbooks, rather than buying cheap (excuse my english) crap out there.

    Cheers!

  4. Ray
    May 22nd, 2015 at 12:10 | #4

    Great post. Your books are not expensive at all in my view. They are great value for money. And then you didn’t even mention the great production quality (binding / hard cover, quality of the paper, type-setting etc.) and the fact that most of QC’s books contain many more pages than e.g. the average Everyman book. And then there’s the plain fact that almost all QC’d books are written by top GM’s and very well edited. It’s not fair to compare these to novels, since these have a much wider audience, so the fixed costs of writing / publisinh can be spread over many more copies. It’s better to compare chess books to e.g. science books, and then you will see that chess books are relatively chep (e.g. I have some physics books that cost 80-90 euros. These are harcover, but still this price is not at all exceptional for physics books and clearly much more expensive than chess books). It’s a simple fact: quality costs money – but if it comes to my favourite hobby I’ll choose for quality any time 🙂

  5. garryk
    May 22nd, 2015 at 12:14 | #5

    When I buy QC books I actually think I’m paying too little for the value of the book. It’s for this reason that sometimes I’ve bought QC books that I’ve never had (and probably will never have) time to read, it’s my way to say thank you for what you are doing.

  6. pabstars
    May 22nd, 2015 at 12:41 | #6

    I don’t find QC books expensive compared to the effort put into them. A week ago, I received Marin’s books on the English opening and even though they are old, they are absolutely fantastic IMO. Sure, some of the lines are outdated but his explanations of strategic ideas mean that I have just used hours and hours of my spare time really learning something new. Chess structures is also a wonderful book I find.

    Earlier on, my favourite opening book was Schandorff’s book on the Caro Kann from QC but here time plays too important a factor as I see it, as white has found too many resources with a lot of serious attacking possibilites. Therefore, Houska’s new book is really necessary and excellent even though I would have preferred an update from Schandorf 🙂

    Talking about chess videos, I totally agree that they seem extremely overprices compared to good chess books. I don’t have very many chess videos but bought Smirnov’s Advanced Package at a big discount. I don’t find these two videos bad but he for sure hasn’t put as much effort into making them as QC authors do to write a book I feel.

  7. Laurence Parrott
    May 22nd, 2015 at 12:43 | #7

    I have a question paper quality. I live in Hong Kong which is very, very humid in the Summer. I have hardbacks of the new Arukh Catalan book and the Negi e4 vs French etc. The paper in the Avrukh book (which has only been in HK for a week or two) has already warped; but the Negi book (which has been in HK a few months) is still flat. Do the books have a different type of paper in them – if so, please use the Negi paper as much as possible in future to help people in humid climates keep their books flat!

  8. Jacob Aagaard
    May 22nd, 2015 at 12:48 | #8

    @Gollum
    We do not make more money on Forward Chess than we do on physical books, we make less. There are conversion costs, 30% to Apple, a percentage to Forward Chess and time spent preparing them. Some people choose to buy them, other people do not. A lower price would not be good economy for us, which would lead to less income and at some point us going out of business…

  9. Jacob Aagaard
    May 22nd, 2015 at 12:50 | #9

    @garryk
    If you still feel guilty in the morning, you can always send us a cheque ;-).

  10. garryk
    May 22nd, 2015 at 13:05 | #10

    Ahahah! Seriously you can propose a sort of crowdfunding to have a project started. I’d probably invest 50$ to make you start a Nimzo repertoire for black!

  11. Ray
    May 22nd, 2015 at 13:20 | #11

    @garryk
    The same here! I basically buy almost all QC books even if there are many openings I don’t play. For example, Negi’s book an the Najdorf with 6.Bg5 is a joy to browse through, even if I don’t play it myself – I don’t even play 1.e4 but 1.d4 🙂 .

  12. Ray
    May 22nd, 2015 at 13:23 | #12

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I still think Apple’s business model is plain robbery. They are hampering innovation in this way buy putting such an outrageous tax simply for using their infrastructure. Anyway, I think I’ve made this point before 🙂

  13. John Shaw
    May 22nd, 2015 at 14:06 | #13

    Laurence Parrott :
    I have a question paper quality. I live in Hong Kong which is very, very humid in the Summer. I have hardbacks of the new Arukh Catalan book and the Negi e4 vs French etc. The paper in the Avrukh book (which has only been in HK for a week or two) has already warped; but the Negi book (which has been in HK a few months) is still flat. Do the books have a different type of paper in them – if so, please use the Negi paper as much as possible in future to help people in humid climates keep their books flat!

    Negi and Avrukh have exactly the same paper from the same printer. Sorry, I have no idea why one of your books is misbehaving.

  14. Thomas
    May 22nd, 2015 at 15:11 | #14

    I own quite a lot books by Quality chess, in fact there are only a few older ones missing in my collection. Most of that books I own in the hardcover version. And still I think those books are worth every penny I spent on them.
    I had nearly retired as an active player, and those books from QC just gave me back the fun and the satisfaction working on my chess again, and today I’m playing more than ever before. So this is the bargain for me, and the books were more than worth it.

  15. Steven Carr
    May 22nd, 2015 at 17:19 | #15

    Compare chess books to university textbooks and you will see that they are good value.

    I happen to think that QC chess books are excellent value for money. I’ve seen a lot of chess books in my time. The only firm which compete, or competed, was Dover, which published reprints of classics.

    Obviously, reprints are cheaper than new works, so even that comparison fails.

  16. TonyRo
    May 22nd, 2015 at 18:09 | #16

    I had a similar conversation on Facebook (probably in the same group) about chess books being expensive, and basically lost it. I won’t “replay” any of that here, but I find it absolutely shocking that anyone can complain about the price of a chess book these days, especially with regards to how much better they are today than they were 10 years ago. I too can think of authors I’d never buy or trust, and can also likely name all of the mystery products in question, but in general I find chess books these days to be very good if you know what to look for.

    Like Jacob said, the most important thing is how much time and hassle you’re saving yourself by buying a good chess book on a topic of your interest. I am obviously an exception (and I didn’t work full time on it), but if someone bought my book, they are getting 4 years of work (!), all of the expertise and experience I built up, and all of my analysis for 28 US dollars on Amazon. The value there is through the roof (in my perhaps not so humble opinion), and while most good chess books might not be as lopsided in terms of page/dollar, author time invested/dollar, etc, they are generally all fantastic deals. Buying an Aagaard GM prep book or an opening book researched by Nikos, etc, is far closer to robbery than rip off in my opinion.

  17. TonyRo
    May 22nd, 2015 at 18:13 | #17

    I also think the comparison to normal novels is sort of absurd, and that the comparison to college textbooks is a bit closer to the mark. As a point of reference, a random Fluid/Thermal Sciences textbook from my sophomore year (something like 10 years ago now) sells today on Amazon for $107, or around 100 Euros. Chess books are expensive… *grumbles*

  18. k.r.
    May 22nd, 2015 at 18:47 | #18

    Quality chess books are one of the best, if not the best on market. My favourite authors are Karoly and Schandorff. Chess tactics from Scratch gave me imediate plus in results….

    Keep going, you are making difference on market.

  19. Ian Mason
    May 22nd, 2015 at 19:12 | #19

    Jacob and John, your books are a different class, I own most of them. Pump up your rating is the best instructional book I have read. I really appreciate all the time you spend on the quality of your books, so please do not compromise. I purchased the Judith Polgar set last week and I am proud to own them.

  20. JohnG
    May 22nd, 2015 at 21:47 | #20

    Funny, the price of a Quality Chess book relative to the work that goes into writing it is one complaint that I would never have imagined anyone would have. My complaint is that I sometimes feel that I am not good enough to get much value from some of the books. Many of them are pitched at such a high level of player and are so dense that I just don’t feel justified in trying to use them. Negi’s repertoire, for example, is probably over my head (I am looking forward to Shaw’s books, which I hope will be more at my level). But I think that’s because the books are meant for very good players, which is a feature, not a bug.

  21. May 23rd, 2015 at 03:25 | #21

    Yeah, I am glad to see that several have made the comparison to technical manuals or textbooks.
    I have always thought chess books were super cheap relative to the expertise and hours required to author them. Jacob’s irresistible need to “refute” anonymous jerks on the internet is a sign of his passion for “Quality” and his pride in his company and products.
    I ran into Eric Schiller at a big tournament several years ago. He was hilarious – he commented on how John Watson spends so many hundreds of hours on his books that his hourly rate must be a tiny fraction of minimum wage. Schiller would be the one to say something like that. 🙂 Schiller was very nice and humble in person and had no illusions regarding his work product. But I happen to think highly of a couple of Schiller’s books anyway. I will buy Shaw’s 1e4 books. Cheers!

  22. Ray
    May 23rd, 2015 at 06:46 | #22

    @Jacob: it seems like you’re preaching to the converted, judging from the reactions 🙂

  23. May 23rd, 2015 at 08:27 | #23

    My experience as manager of a sales page book is that the books below 20 euros especially in the range of 15-20 euros have greater sales success, but it is also true that people are willing to make an effort high quality books. In the Forwarchess market, I think the books should never cost more than 20 euros to be the ideal price in the range 7-17.

    Greetings and congratulations to the Qualitychess team for their fantastic job!

  24. Jacob Aagaard
    May 23rd, 2015 at 10:15 | #24

    @katar
    I would not want to use the term “jerk” about someone with a different perspective than mine. First of all I don’t think that way. I find it more interesting to see things from their perspective. Secondly, if I want them to see my perspective, I think it is necessary to show that you can see theirs as well…

    @adolfo
    In our experience the price we charge for a book is not all that important. People generally buy them if they want them. We might make more money if we charged more for the books, but things are ticking over nicely at the moment, so why change the equilibrium? We also want our books to be read.

    @Gollum
    With regards to Forward Chess: the prices are set in dollars at 66.6% of the paperback price, aka. $19.99. I do not think that makes €21 for many of the books, but it will if a book is only out in hardback, where the price is not €25. Am I missing something?

  25. LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    May 23rd, 2015 at 10:46 | #25

    If Quality has in mind to write GM Repertoire Ruy Lopez Breyer Variation for Black, then you guys already have a good competitor:

    “Bologan’s Ruy Lopez for Black: How to Play for a Win against the Spanish Opening” 🙂

    by Victor Bologan – publication November 15, 2015

  26. Jacob Aagaard
    May 23rd, 2015 at 11:25 | #26

    @LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    I think our book will be out before then. At least I hope so…

  27. LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    May 23rd, 2015 at 11:48 | #27

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Well that’s great news 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I’m looking forward stunningly! Can you please tell who will be the author, and shall it begin with Ruy Exchange? GM Rep Open Ruy doesn’t includes Exchange! Why, why???

  28. John Johnson
    May 23rd, 2015 at 13:01 | #28

    Odd Aren’t Watson and Schiller doing a book together? I do have reservations tho’ I almost always buy everything by Watson.

  29. Ray
    May 23rd, 2015 at 14:05 | #29

    @John Johnson
    Yes, they have just published a book on beating annoying / unusual chess openings. Too bad they beat Mikhalevsky to it – that will be tough competition 🙂

  30. Forward Chess
    May 23rd, 2015 at 15:47 | #30

    Gollum :
    The only thing I do not agree on the pricing policy of QC is the exorbitant price for Forward Chess books. I know that QC has not a good margin on it and that a significant part goes to google or VAT, but nevertheless for me it is impossible to justify buying for 21€ in FC a book that I can have physically for 25€.

    As you can imagine, we find it very, VERY frustrating that the European governments, in their infinite wisdom, decided to tax electronic books at 25% or so. The book prices are set, by the publishers, (in dollars) at about 33% off compared to retail. What happens next is pretty much outside of their control.

    You brought up another very interesting point, “it is impossible to justify buying for 21€ in FC a book that I can have physically for 25€.”
    In our view, what Quality Chess offers is information (research, analysis, opinion, etc.), not paper. Paper is cheap. Do you think they should discount the electronic books by more than the cost of paper (transportation, etc.)? After all, they incur the same expenses – writing, editing, the list goes on and on – for all formats. (In fact, they have some additional ones, like the effort of conversion, but it is a separate issue.)

  31. Johnnyboy
    May 23rd, 2015 at 20:04 | #31

    Jacob, John et al

    Can’t fault your dissection of the ”quality” in Quality Chess and we all like supporting a quality product.
    I don’t work in the trade but when you say “When a book is sold to a reader, we do not get the lion’s share. The retailer takes 50% and if you buy it through Amazon or some other place that gives a small discount, we have to pay a middleman that takes 33% of what is left. On top of this we have expenses of printing, shipping, storage, handling and not to forget, authors!”
    I wonder why you don’t have some discount “straight from the manufacturers” like so many businesses so that you get the buyers who are keen to get a lower than RRP price and you still make a bigger profit? Am I missing something? I’m not denying that it may be worth paying the full price but it’s hard to avoid the temptation of a bargain and a small discount would make us buyers feel we are supporting Quality Chess directly as well as not paying more than others.

  32. Gollum
    May 23rd, 2015 at 20:18 | #32

    I don’t really know how much the cost of the following things is:

    * Paper.
    * Printing.
    * Shipping.
    * Storage.

    compared to the overall price, but I had a friend in the publisher business that told me that something that seems so trivial as storage the printed books is actually expensive (at least for big prints).

    All those things are expenses for the paper book that you do not incur when you have an electronic book. Of course in electronic books you have to pay to google an obnoxious amount of the money and you have to pay VAT too.

    In the end, I like the feeling of having a book in my hands, the fact that I can lend it to anyone, that I can resell it if I want. All this things are lacking in the electronic book. For me the electronic book is a way to have more books with the same money. My plan is to give myself three books from QC for my birthday, which is 80€ and I have a free book (it is a shame I cannot have the quality chess puzzle book as a free book). That is less than 4 books in electronic format from FC.

    So at the end of the day I think FC will have it very rough because its business model (in my view, which is of course the view of an outsider) should be lots of sells, with very little profit with each sell. And it saddens me. I have two books from FC and I think it is an excellent application and I like to have the choice to buy electronic books or physical books.

    I don’t want to hijack the topic of this post. My only advice to FC would be…

  33. Jacob Aagaard
    May 23rd, 2015 at 22:34 | #33

    @Johnnyboy
    You are missing a number of points. a. we do not want to undercut the chess specialists, who are our primary market. b. postage costs are by no means covered by the postage we charge. c. lots of other minor details, for example that we would just need to employ a full time person to do it…

  34. Robert MacMillan
    May 24th, 2015 at 03:49 | #34

    Jacob, A fast count through my library yields 35 QC titles, and I’ll order a couple of more when you release them in June. Now if I can just find time to read them all! I’m doing what I can to support QC.

  35. Ashish
    May 24th, 2015 at 07:03 | #35

    A single book from Quality Chess (e.g. Positional Play) offers me at least 100 hours of entertainment and training. It is worth many times the price.

  36. Thomas
    May 24th, 2015 at 07:17 | #36

    Actually I think QC would not sell much more books if they sold them for 10 Euro less.
    They would have to change their name from QC to DC (Discount chess) and the books would lie around in the cheapo box of the reseller besides some master pieces of the “winning every game with no effort – move by move” kind. Those books may sell quite well when they come out, but are forgotten after some weeks.
    There are always some guys trying to discuss the price – they would also if it where 5 pounds a book. It’s like driving 10 miles to a far away store because the milk is two cents cheaper there.

  37. Ray
    May 24th, 2015 at 07:46 | #37

    @Ashish
    🙂

  38. Ray
    May 24th, 2015 at 07:47 | #38

    @Thomas
    🙂 Maybe it’s time for a slight price increase then 🙂

  39. Ed
    May 24th, 2015 at 08:16 | #39

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Looking forward to the line in Advance Caro K.that will be suggested in the book.
    I like the Advance variation.
    What do you think about the Fantasy variation?
    This is a wild variation which I found out recently.
    Do you think it is sound for white?
    I value your thoughts on this.

  40. S.hansen
    May 24th, 2015 at 09:13 | #40

    Dont Think the is much doubt about the quality of the books QC is producing 🙂
    I Really appreciate the offer of buying 3 books and have Them shipped for free.

    keep up the good work – it means a lot to many people 🙂

  41. Jacob Aagaard
    May 24th, 2015 at 09:33 | #41

    @S.hansen
    I am almost embarassed. Your last sentence means more to me than my bank balance (well, it is close to negative anyway :-)), but I almost feel that I asked people for the support with the post, while actually I was just wanting to share our point of view and was quite apprehensive about how it was going to be received.

    So, thank you guys. At times it feels worth it to write these blog posts…

  42. k.r.
    May 24th, 2015 at 09:45 | #42

    @Jacob, check out how one of your book found playe in GM lectures, if you arent familiar with it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQBKv3dG02U

  43. k.r.
    May 24th, 2015 at 10:20 | #43

    Here he compliment Strategic play and says Jacob Aagaard is for him not only top 3 author but probably top one author 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dovGIVF3bmE

  44. Johnnyboy
    May 24th, 2015 at 11:43 | #44

    Jacob

    Thanks for your insight into the business and I hope this comment does not come over as too critical- it is your business and you are welcome to disregard all or some of this chat about pricing at your leisure and that won’t reflect on the quality of the work you do in your books.
    I understand that you “don’t want to undercut the chess specialists” but though I own some of your great titles, I’m yet to buy a book direct from you as it has been universally more expensive for me to do so compared to these chess specialists you talk about (they usually offer a discount on the RRP or free shipping compared to yourself) and I find it hard to justify paying extra rather than the same price to show support for your firm.
    I’m certainly surprised that the 50% retailer margin that you lose on a $30 book cannot cover the shipping, storage etc- and surely if you need to pay a full time person to deal with online orders it is a sign that your online orders are a success and that money is coming into the bank? If online sales direct from you are not profitable enough to be such a high priority to your business that’s fine but I still think you may be missing a trick if you encourage volume of sales direct. Looking at the blog there is a lot of support for your books and I’m happy to include myself in that group – but a level playing field on cost from ordering from you rather than competitors would at least make customers like myself use this option.
    Perhaps I…

  45. Fat cat is fat
    May 24th, 2015 at 12:17 | #45

    I think this is a bit relevant so I’d like to write here. It seems to me that there are three types of opening books.

    1st type: These books usually just have complete games and the opening analyses are contained in them. There are some very good books like this but I think most books written in that format are the type of books that Jacob is talking about. They’re not worth anything and you don’t feel like you’ve learned much about the opening after going through them.

    2nd type: These books are detailed repertoire books(like the GM repertoire books). While these seem to be most attractive to many people, to be honest as a player rated around 2150, I haven’t benefited much from them. Maybe because I’m not strong enough or because I didn’t spend enough time to memorise the lines. Or maybe because there is usually another move in the position which I understand better and suits me more. Whatever the reason, I think GM repertoire books benefit me much less than the authors have intended. Objectively they are great books of course.

    3rd type: These books don’t give complete games but they don’t give a repertoire either. They give you a complete but not very deep coverage of the opening. As an example, a Caro-Kann book written in that style would tell you that against the advance variation, white can play 4.Nf3 .Be2, 4.Be3, 4.c4, 4.Nc3 etc and it would explain the ideas of each and give some main lines and nuances but it wouldn’t be deep. If you wanted to…

  46. Steve
    May 24th, 2015 at 12:27 | #46

    Eccentric as it may seem, I tend to agree with garryk that QC books should be much higher priced. They are more like specialist graduate-level textbooks or research monographs, rather than Chess101 texts. I have no idea how the sales compare, but QC hardbacks could easily be 3 times the price and I would not consider them expensive compared with the academic books I buy.
    As an author of an academic text, I would feel insulted if the amount of work that went into it sold for the prices QC books sell for. Of course, even at the prices of academic books, authors don’t do it for the money, but for a mixture of altruistic and egotistic reasons, but every time I buy a QC book, I feel like I am ripping the author off.

  47. Steve
    May 24th, 2015 at 12:30 | #47

    p.s. that doesn’t stop me, of course. I have so many QC books that I buy almost none from other publishers due to lack of shelf space and time to read.

  48. Bryan Martin
    May 24th, 2015 at 14:01 | #48

    Your books are the best quality and worth every dollar!

  49. Forward Chess
    May 24th, 2015 at 14:35 | #49

    @Gollum
    It seems your post got cut off at the most interesting point 🙂
    What would be your advice to FC?

    Keep in mind that the FC books are already priced 1/3 cheaper than retail.
    (With some exceptions, like the first volume of Kotronias KI, which is 2/3 below retail, and True Lies in Chess, which is free.)
    And that there is real “math” to contend with.
    Why would a publisher be willing to go even lower?

    For some people, who “like the feeling of having a book in my hands”, electronic books are not an option. You would certainly have to give up that. Are you getting enough in return? It is a highly personal question, of course.
    The ability to play through the moves? Being able to carry all of your books with you? The fact that unlike a physical book, this one will never get lost, damaged, etc.?

    Please let us know what practical advice you have for us, we definitely want to succeed 🙂

  50. Ray
    May 24th, 2015 at 15:52 | #50

    @Forward Chess
    For me the reason I prefer a paper version is that I want to put everything into a database anyway, since I can edit that and add new lines as theory progresses – which is impossible on forward chess, I believe. It’s easier to copy the moves form an open book in front of my laptop than from a second computer screen.

  51. Jimmy
    May 24th, 2015 at 15:53 | #51

    @Forward Chess
    Being compatible with Windows is a dealbreaker for me, as I work on my chess mostly at my computer. Perhaps this will be possible with the coming Windows 10?

  52. Gollum
    May 24th, 2015 at 16:24 | #52

    @Forward Chess

    I see… I make very long posts…

    My only advice would be to go outside the google market, so you can save the google cut. I guess you are with google (and apple) because it offers customers easy access and trust, but I would trust you equally if you were outside google.

    Manage accounts and paying books is a hasle, but it certainly cannot be 30% of the price of the book.

    And yes, both having the ability to carry the book always with you and playing the moves without a board is the two best points for electronic books (cheaper should be the last point which would tip the balance, but that is not so now). I really hope you succeed in your enterprise.

  53. JohnG
    May 24th, 2015 at 19:31 | #53

    @Forward Chess

    I realize you didn’t ask me but here is my two cents. My one complaint about Forward Chess is that I cannot use it on my laptop, only on my phone. I guess I am old fashioned, but I prefer to use my phone only for calls, texts, email, and GPS. I generally don’t use it for entertainment or study. I also don’t have any interest in owning a tablet. So my interest in F.C. will always be limited if I cannot use it on a P.C. That’s too bad since I actually prefer studying with my computer to studying with a book and feel that it is totally reasonable to charge the same amount for an interactive ebook as for a physical book. So outside of the phone vs. P.C. issue, I would be an ideal customer.

  54. Jay
    May 24th, 2015 at 22:04 | #54

    @Forward Chess
    I would like a version for my Kindle.

  55. d.
    May 25th, 2015 at 00:56 | #55

    Two quick points:

    — I agree that QC books are, in general, under-priced, and I’d be happy to pay more for the books I really like, in order to support the work needed to make more in the future. If QC were to offer a limited number of $100 versions that were autographed by the authors (for example) I think these would sell out rather quickly.

    — The ForwardChess versions are so great that I have regularly bought the FC version of books I already own in printed version. If FC had a “gratuity” feature that enabled an additional donation to be made to the author, I’d use it.

  56. May 25th, 2015 at 08:49 | #56

    The quality of videos on chess varies considerably. I’m putting some work into my openings this summer and have bought a number of them.

    Firstly some advanced videos are just the players reading out lines with very little explanation, these are absolutely stultifying. Videos should be a private lesson or briefing on the opening not someone reading out a book they couldn’t get published.

    Secondly many videos are aimed at weaker players. This means that the level may be entirely wrong for the keen chess player or the author feels justified in suggesting rather dubious lines.

    What I want to do is learn some chess from these videos. Two recent videos I watched were excellent. Kasimdzhanov’s on the French McCutcheon where he really shows what kind of position he finds acceptable and what he does not. The second was Marin’s on the Leningrad which really didn’t have any lines but instead took the pawn structures and explained those. This was entirely what I wanted as I didn’t really understand what white was supposed to be playing for in this opening before.

    I also bought a 1 hour video on the Stonewall Dutch by Leonid Kritz. I don’t think one can ask for much more from a quick briefing video such as this.

    Chess24 have many excellent videos. The standouts for me are Svidler’s one on Tal and the series of videos by Sadler and Kasimdzhanov (who seems to be to be getting better and better at this). There are many that leave you underwhelmed and I’ve quit…

  57. Fer
    May 25th, 2015 at 10:17 | #57

    I have about 15 books of QC, and for me the price of quality chess books is not bad to buy some of the, but not as much as I would like to own. But in a global world, to spend 25€ in a book can be something imposible.
    What I can’t understand is why not much time ago (1 year aprox.) it was possible to find QC books for 18€ shipping included while shooping the QC web they were 25€ + shipping.
    Besides this, if you have to give them these big %, or you are earning almost nothing for books sold in Amazon or similar or, there is a variable missing there…

    I don’t know how many books you sell in your web vs. Amazon or similar, but i think you are well-known enough in the chess world as the best quality books to sell directly in you website and some other specialist websites, that probably won’t ask your for this abusive commisions.
    Or maybe as I said, there are more hidden variables (at least for me) there.

  58. Milen Petrov
    May 25th, 2015 at 12:21 | #58

    As a correspondence chess player I would agree and disagree with the points above.
    Points to which I agree:
    – The number of copies sold for chess books is quite less than any other book, which makes the cost per book more expensive and they all have limited number of readers – this is non-disputable.
    – The amount of work done (another question is quality of that work) is too much related to any other book
    Points to which I disagree:
    – Quality – I really doubt about it. The main focus is OTB chess. We are still missing a book which will suit correspondence players.
    – Not all lines are thoroughly checked with engines and frequently a statements like this appear inside the books (citing Avrukh in GM1A) “Black managed to hold in two correspondence games and achieved a draw, but it is unpleasant to meet it over the board” – com on guy – at least cite those two games, check 2-3-5 moves ahead and see. It is easy draw – everyone who is interested in that particular line will check it with an engne and will see and remember what he/she should do.
    – All publishers really do not check side lines and do not put any efforts on them. Typical example is Negi in Sicilian 1 – somewhere after page 212, 17…Bxf6 – the note line does not appear in most popular engines’ analysis’ along the first 10 lines! At the end Negi says it is +/-, when engine’s first line is even worse for White.
    So in short – we really miss a real book, which suits correspondence players and it is accurate,…

  59. Milen Petrov
    May 25th, 2015 at 12:30 | #59

    … even it says – all lines are drawn.

  60. Jacob Aagaard
    May 25th, 2015 at 12:47 | #60

    @Johnnyboy
    Please include 20 minutes going to the post office and getting a to sign for receipt, for the countries around the World where a lot of orders have not arrived. It is a volume question. We would rather worry about producing books that compete with our most important customers. One more book a year is probably as valuable and even if you employ someone to deal with this full time, management is necessary and problems always arise.

  61. Jacob Aagaard
    May 25th, 2015 at 12:52 | #61

    @Steve
    Usually hardbacks are much more expensive than paperbacks. We decided not to do this, because we find the hardback format vastly superior and wanted people to get the better experience. I once talked about this with Matthias Wullenweber, whom I respect immensely, and he thanked me for creating an interesting new chess company, as everything that makes the game more interesting is good for everyone. If this is technically true or it is better to have less competition I am not sure, but it is definitely a nice way to live your life and this is what we have gone with…

  62. Jacob Aagaard
    May 25th, 2015 at 12:56 | #62

    @d.
    Donations to the authors can be sent to our paypal account!

  63. Jacob Aagaard
    May 25th, 2015 at 13:01 | #63

    @Milen Petrov
    Chess is a draw. The stronger the engines, the less relevant correspondence chess becomes. But you will certainly agree that no other publisher looks as much at corr. games as we do.

  64. Longinus
    May 25th, 2015 at 13:02 | #64

    @Milen Petrov
    Agree, although it would be an incredible amount of work to put together a high-level correspondence-quality repertoire book, for example. I think it’s not commercially viable — the pool of serious correspondence players is too small, and the effort by the author would be too large.

    I am primarily a correspondence player nowadays, but I am unfortunately a little lazy with my openings, and have gotten some very ugly positions by following analysis by Avrukh and Mikhalevksi a little too far. So I am learning to be more careful. Sometimes I think I should just play 1. b4! Interestingly, I have won two correspondence games over the years just by playing analysis straight out of an opening book. The authors of the analysis? Semko Semkov and Alexander Khalifman.

  65. Jacob Aagaard
    May 25th, 2015 at 14:25 | #65

    @Longinus
    I know a lot of correspondence players that like our books and say that have won many games following them, so maybe you have just been unlucky ;-).

  66. Boki
    May 25th, 2015 at 15:20 | #66

    Maybe i am a little late in the discussion, but i QC-books are for shure not expensive. I have at least 90 % of all quality chess books and i was never disappointed, which i cannot say about Books of Other publishers. I ended Up buying many Books also as forwardchess as it is quite practical for Opening study and the Last forwardchess update was great.

  67. May 25th, 2015 at 16:56 | #67

    I am a player from Kenya. I am using your books to move to 2200 and hopefully beyond in the the next few years (currently rated a lowly 2087). Your books have been worth every penny so far. It’s just impossible to find trainers back where I am. We don’t have the chess infrastructure yet. So quality books like the ones you publish are priceless. Keep up the good work. Your reputation is growing. Beyond Europe and into places you would not otherwise see or consider. African chess is gradually growing and a number of upcoming players in the region, if you see the facebook and blog discussions, really value Quality Chess books.

  68. Jacob Aagaard
    May 25th, 2015 at 17:45 | #68

    @Boki
    Thank you. I appreciate it.

  69. Milen Petrov
    May 25th, 2015 at 17:55 | #69

    Jacob Aagaard :

    After year 2002 I am mainly concentrated on corr. chess as I do not have time to play OTB. I really like what you are doing and my QC library is growing with a very high tempo (at the mo more than 30 books on the shelf). It was kind of constructive criticism. For example I was following recently Kotronias (Sveshnikov) and got a couple of easy corr. games draws, which is great. Same is valid also for your book with Ntirlis about the French- I am making two draws with Black in just less than 20 moves following the book with some of my own additions. So all depends on the author and his mood over the corr. chess at all.
    And as a side note I would like to suggest another small improvement (this time not about content), all my books (in hardcover) are with smashed cover edges, no matter what courier service is used. If you can think of a way to protect the cover edges, that would be great. Even I am ready to pay an extra 2-3 EUR for that protection per book. Before I provided an example and u sent me a free one – no I am not looking at any such things – I just want to get a product which is in a very good condition. TBH all recently purchased hard-cover books were in that ugly way – I know it is not up to you – it is all about packaging team and couriers, but if there is an option to pay extra to protect edges would be great.

  70. Jacob Aagaard
    May 26th, 2015 at 11:18 | #70

    @Milen Petrov
    As you know we bubble wrap our books and have padded envelopes. But we will certainly talk about it at the editorial in 5 minutes.

  71. Milen Petrov
    May 26th, 2015 at 11:42 | #71

    Yes, they are useful to some degree, but still not enough. With Courier (when ordered 3+ books) usually top and bottom ones are smashed. With regular mail – always despite the fact of bubble wraps. I am pretty sure it is not about u as publisher – they can come in that way from printer, they could be smashed by packers/couriers. But I hope you agree that when you pay 30 EUR for something you want it in a good condition. At least I want all my chess books to be perfect. May be plastic corner edges could help?! Of course they will be optional and paid – I am ok to pay for them when I order.
    Thanks

  72. Jacob Aagaard
    May 26th, 2015 at 15:03 | #72

    @Milen Petrov
    They are not damaged when they leave our hands. We do not pass on damaged books; they go to the reviewers or to ourselves privately.

    We need to work out a way to solve this. It will require a bit of thinking…

  73. Phille
    May 26th, 2015 at 16:30 | #73

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I had that problem as well: King’s Gambit and Calculation both arrived with crunched edges. Not such a big deal, I carried Calculation around with me for the next half year, so there was some wear and tear anyway, but if this issue could be solved that would be great.

  74. garryk
    May 26th, 2015 at 18:07 | #74

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I never had such problems, that sounds very strange to me as your packaging seems very protective…

  75. TonyRo
    May 26th, 2015 at 18:36 | #75

    I have had quite a few QC hardcovers make it to me with crunched edges and while annoying, they have never affected the structural integrity or readability of the book, only the aesthetics. Not easy to fix without adding cost.

    I remember that years ago Amazon used to ship all/a lot of their books with cardboard backings that were slightly bigger than the books. The books were shrink-wrapped to them. This is a great way to protect books, and is the way I ship my sold books, but it adds cost and hassle.

  76. Jesse
    May 26th, 2015 at 20:59 | #76

    Use boxes instead of the envelops+bubble wrap. They are flat which makes them less likely to fall off of post office conveyor belts, also more stable when stacked, and they are less bulky which makes them less likely to be dropped by postal workers.

    The envelops lack structural strength. You’ve added bubble paper, which seems to have helped, but the fundamental shortcoming remains. Adding cardboard inserts or corner reinforcements are similar to adding bubble paper.

  77. Johnnyboy
    May 28th, 2015 at 00:25 | #77

    Jacob
    thanks for your reply- courteous as ever.
    I’m very much a club player and have appreciated books like Chess Structures which help explain general plans- I would be a fan of more titles aimed at the less talented but enthusiastic player. With the move to faster time controls and quickplay finishes have you at QC ever thought about a book for the club player like the majority of your readers similar to Joe Gallagher’s 101 attacking Ideas and John Healy’s Coffeehouse Tactics but not quite as extreme as Naka’s Bullet chess giving tips on how to cope best in the short of time non perfect chess world most of us live in? watching the world elite play at Blitz and Rapid time controls makes it obvious that they ahve a different practical mindset for these games compared to their classical style and there are some who are higher rated at these time controls because of their approach such as Nepo and Le Quang liem.
    It may make your skin crawl to even think of even consider the idea of recommending non-quality Komodo approved grade A moves but your current books may set me up with a great opening advantage for me then to be sent crashing to earth by some cheapo in a time scramble. Opening tips fade over time but general tactical and positional advice persists

  78. Jacob Aagaard
    May 28th, 2015 at 06:32 | #78

    @Johnnyboy
    That book is called GRANDMASTER PREPARATION – POSITIONAL PLAY :-). It really helps you make certain decisions much faster, giving you time for calculation at important moments.

  79. Gollum
    May 28th, 2015 at 09:22 | #79

    @Jacob Aagaard

    Certainly it is readable at a low level. I read it and got right about 50% of the exercises, while in calculation and endgame I am about to give it up, they are both too hard for me (2200 fide).

  80. Johnnyboy
    May 29th, 2015 at 04:45 | #80

    Jacob
    Thanks- I have yet to try any of your “grandmaster preparation” books. Are any of the others relevant to sub 2000 players like myself? If Gollum is finding them too hard…

  81. Jacob Aagaard
    May 29th, 2015 at 08:40 | #81

    @Johnnyboy
    Only really POSITIONAL PLAY is universal.

  82. pabstars
    June 1st, 2015 at 11:24 | #82

    Jacob, have you thought of writing a book which has an emphasis on strengths/weaknesses of players at different levels? You already have Grandmaster vs Amateur but this is more a rather cosy description of a way different grandmasters think as I see it.

    In your Calculation book you had some tests where the readers’ abilities were rated by a point system. I find that it could be quite interesting to have a book describing the differences between really strong players and less gifted chess lovers. I’m sure that most readers of the blog have noticed that in big tournaments using the Swiss system, the strong players just beat the weaker players with relative ease in most cases in the first round where they meet each other and this book could illustrate the different ways of thinking here.

    A chapter could have have an emphasis on any relevant chess topic, for example isolated pawns. Then it would contain some examples of good play by strong players followed by some examples where weaker players handle that type of position less accurately. At the end of the chapter, there would be exercises where you are given a rating by the number of points you get in that specific area. In Rios’ book on Chess Structures, he several times tells about the way he used to evaluate a position which is very instructive and helpful in my opinion.

  83. June 1st, 2015 at 11:37 | #83

    @pabstars
    You may find the book Inside the Chess Mind by a certain J. Aagaard to be an interesting read. Two other books that focus on thought processes are Avni’s The Grandmaster’s Mind and Heisman’s The Improving Chess Thinker. I don’t know how much any of them improved my chess but I thought they were all pretty fascinating.

    I was hoping that Grandmaster vs Amateur would be more along the lines of what you ask for, though it is still an interesting book.

    One of the things I like about Chess Structures is that it has a bunch of “a 2750 makes it look easy against a 2600” games, which I feel you don’t find enough in the literature.

  84. pabstars
    June 1st, 2015 at 11:58 | #84

    Thanks, dfan. I hadn’t heard of the 3 books you mentioned.

    Rios really explains difficult topics in an accessible way. His way of showing the relevance of controlling the c file in Grünfeld strutures is mind boggling. Also, the first game in the chapter Najdorf Type 1 shows how white with some elegant play gets a decisive advantage. However, subsequently white just has to make one bad move to blow up the position; this is almost scary but very well-explained!

  85. franck Steenbekkera
    June 1st, 2015 at 14:58 | #85

    is it possible to give here away one secret of the new books of mr Shaw about the 1 e4 repertoirebooks for example the missing line of the Dreev book or the recommend variation versus the Guimard Tarrash.
    Maybe a sort of appetizer
    I will continue buying all QC books!!!

  86. Jacob Aagaard
    June 2nd, 2015 at 11:15 | #86
  87. The Doctor
    June 2nd, 2015 at 14:18 | #87

    How can he when he hadn’t even decided himself yet what the repertoire is going to be

  88. Jacob Aagaard
    June 2nd, 2015 at 17:33 | #88

    @The Doctor
    A lot of the book is done, but I think John and I should produce more stuff instead of putting it on the website too soon!

  89. The Doctor
    June 2nd, 2015 at 17:35 | #89

    @Jacob Aagaard

    My comment was very tongue in cheek 🙂

  90. Jacob Aagaard
    June 2nd, 2015 at 19:41 | #90

    @The Doctor
    Scoundrel!

  91. June 3rd, 2015 at 07:44 | #91

    Mr. Aagard, what is the release date?

  92. Jacob Aagaard
    June 3rd, 2015 at 11:07 | #92

    @Andrea
    If it is not in the publishing schedule or on the book on the website, the best guess is that it is not set yet. And that is me guessing ;-).

  93. The Doctor
    June 3rd, 2015 at 21:46 | #93

    Is the GM Rep on the Najdorf progressing or us this been pushed back further?

  94. Jacob Aagaard
    June 4th, 2015 at 08:41 | #94

    @The Doctor
    Still planned for this year. Hope we get it done in time.

  95. The Doctor
    June 4th, 2015 at 17:35 | #95

    Jacob Aagaard :
    @The Doctor
    Still planned for this year. Hope we get it done in time.

    Great!

  96. Jupp53
    June 5th, 2015 at 14:15 | #96

    Compare the time you spend with a good chessbook to any other book. Playing through the games, solving the puzzles, rethinking your chess gives you a value for money you can only buy in some special cases elsewhere. Chess doesn’t cost a lot if you want to learn seriously. And the books are even the cheapest part of it.

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