Why are Architecture Books so expensive

I can find architectural books easily going to upper end of double digit prices and if hard cover sometimes going into upper end of triple digit or even in thousands, why are architecture books so expensive, especially considering how little architects made as an industry and how much more students have to spend for model making and printing in school comparing to their peers, and at the same time computer science books and knowledge very often free of charge on the internet while their graduates make sometimes double the salary for their first job? How do we even grow as an industry fast and with rigor if no one is willing share any knowledge? Or do they expect students to have trust funds to earn the right to read their books?

Jan 18, 19 1:53 pm
Non Sequitur

You'll learn quickly in an office. That's were the vast majority of the knowledge is hidden.

Jan 18, 19 2:10 pm

also why the industry feel slow to grow, filled with artificial barriers and refuse to innovate.

Non Sequitur

building up experience is not an artificial barrier.

I'm already working in the office for several years now and yes nothing can replace experience and you should get that working in a office but there is so much a student or a young professional can learn by simply reading a book or online.


Usually buying rights to images and limited printings plus the quality of paper and binding are usually higher. Usually. Textbooks of all subjects are ripoffs. Thereways to find those nice reference books like arch standards for free in...places online. Or the library. 

Jan 18, 19 11:06 pm

Ever made a real book, an architectural publication? Architecture books are not the same as computer science text books, geez. Talking about what's wrong with the profession, is people that expect to pay next to nothing for beautifully crafted and put together architecture publications. Ever heard of libraries? If you don't want to buy a certain book, just borrow it or make copies like normal people do.  

Jan 19, 19 3:03 am

I've actually taken publishing workshop and have made quality prints and yes it's hard and they should be rewarded, but then why not also make cheaper and easier to make versions for students, or share the knowledge online, it's cheaper and more easily scaled? Carefully crafted masterpiece is nice for clients and architectural lovers but students just want to learn the knowledge. Even highly valuable science papers are going free and open for public. Let's not forget that a lot of these beautifully made books are just filled with pretty images and lack in depth of actual discussion about the architecture, techniques, context, etc. they are just coffee top books for marketing, gifts for clients, etc. Are we really saying that you have to have $500-$1000 disposable income for one book as a student to be able to work in the profession?

Non Sequitur

"Are we really saying that you have to have $500-$1000 disposable income as a student to be able to work in the profession?" That's what libraries are for.

yes and no.

1) there is already movement in the science and technology community to bypass publishers and put the papers up free for the academic community

2) even the best schools sometimes can't afford to have some of the good and new books/magazines and I've seen students pooling money to buy them together

Non Sequitur

science papers are different as it promotes critical findings for others to build-on.... not copy details for their mediocre studio projects. It's not a fair comparison.

Non Sequitur

btw, what book is $1000usd?

I actually agree a detail drawing is not very useful for a student, what about not the detail drawing itself but discussion of how they arrive at a hypothetical detail? What about some critical discussion about structure grid and how that affect the general aesthetic of the building, summary of the implication of materials in very practical terms based on experiences, what about the discussion on vertical circulation and its aesthetic implications, substructures, etc. this book used to be more than $1000 with Hardcover, but I'm glad the price dropped and they included a cheap Kindle option.


So, there's a kindle option for $15 and there are free lectures by the author on's only when books are out of print that prices go up like that, as with anything. But that's exactly why there are libraries, be creative, aren't you supposed to be studying a creative subject? Come up with something to get that rare book you apparently so desperately need. 

I remember when I was studying everybody had pdf's of El Croquis, they were for sale in our book shop and for borrowing in our library.

Non Sequitur

$10ish for kindle is pretty damn reasonable. There is also a free pdf viewer online but not sure if it's legal.

Non Sequitur

still don't see that plethora of important arch reference books in the 500-1000 range.


Like many architecture books, that book is a compilation of essays and critiques, almost all of which have been previously published elsewhere. If you're interested in it for the content then you can find nearly all of it for free in any good library system - and some even free online. But if you're interested in it to have, as a visible, ever-present status symbol to reinforce your architect self-image, well... that's why these books are so expensive - resellers know what insecure architects will pay.



Jan 19, 19 11:22 pm

William Stout architecture books in San Francisco is one of the best architectural book stores - great selection, Steven Holl once worked there. It's expensive especially for rare out of print stuff. Great place to spend a rainy San Francisco afternoon at though -

Jan 20, 19 6:09 pm

I haven't bought an Architectural book since the invention of the internet .. really! Why would you spend money when every architect / designer is dying to promote the hell out of themselves and post a ton of images of every project they ever did ( good and bad ) Architectural books are very dated when you can view a particular project on line in several different locations.  Particularly good projects have excellent coverage, if not on the architects own site but the normal media outlets covering that sort of thing... like Architect!

Jan 30, 19 6:04 pm

I am clearing out my library on ebay, but I do not see your bids?

Jan 30, 19 7:33 pm

Architectural books are expensive because .... they can be.

Jan 30, 19 8:53 pm

because they probably don’t sell many

Jan 31, 19 11:12 am

Limited market

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