Ebook PricesThere has probably been no subject related to ebooks more discussed than price. From the beginning of the Kindle, iBook, Nook and Sony ebook revolution, pricing seems to have been the ‘X’ factor. ‘X’ here being the unknown factor.

While ebook prices were originally gauged against paperback and hardcover versions, this formula went out the window extremely quickly. No matter the arguments about the time it took an author to write a book, or how long an editor slaved over each word or how much money was spent on cover design and book promotion, the perceived value of an ebook in a customer’s eyes just didn’t add up to the old physical book price calculations.

After all, it’s just a little electronic file. As the music industry and software companies now know, a file is a file is a file and prices have plummeted  over the last five or so years.

I recently read an interesting article about ebook price predictions for 2012 on Author Media. Not surprisingly most industry experts confirm a range from $0.99 up to a premium price of $9.99. While this is logical, the unknown is how many books will sell at each rung of the price ladder.

Clearly, $0.99 has proved to be irresistibly popular for Kindle owners especially, but at the next level of $2.99 some buying resistance starts to set in. Logically, the next levels of $4.99 and then up to $9.99 meet further buyer resistance. Trying to use Amazon Kindle’s bestseller list is a poor guide to this price resistance as it is such a ‘secret’ as to how it is formulated, and is dotted with ‘promoted’ books. However, in scanning the list of the top 500 ebooks, $0.99 cent books absolutely abound.

Then there is the ‘other’ ebook price. Free. Whether by Amazon’s KDP Select, or via an author or publisher promotion, free is a very attractive price and useful marketing tool. But then there is a dangerous kind of free.

As the Internet’s history has proven, if something is simply a digital file, the pirates will step in. A recent article in The Daily Mail reported on ebook piracy and gave an alarming example.

One example is 77 Shadow Street, the new novel by Dean Koontz. Amazon customers will have to pay £11.96 to pre-order it – but an eBook and audiobook version are already available for free from the pirate site.

So the next 12 months will be interesting. The only ‘sure thing’ is that ebook prices will not be heading North anytime soon.

Are Ebook Prices Heading South?
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5 thoughts on “Are Ebook Prices Heading South?

  • 28/04/2012 at 5:09 pm

    Yep! it’s such a dog eat dog world, aint it? It’s hard to know what to do with your newly written and precious ebook…

    • 28/04/2012 at 10:06 pm

      When you see the number of writers on Twitter Pat, you know it’s a big swamp we’re swimming in now! :)

  • 28/04/2012 at 7:04 pm

    Hi Derek. I have been experimenting with price too. My first book I gave away free for months, because if I even put a .99 price on it downloads would stop. But when the second of the trilogy came out, I priced it at 1.99 and then priced the first one at .99. There were good sales of the second book but not much of the first, I guess everyone already had their free copy. What I did find though, was that I wasn’t gaining new readers. So when I released the last book in the trilogy, I made the first one free again, while pricing the other two at 2.99, and readers seem happy to pay that price. So I think that as soon as a writer has established their credentials, and won the confidence of their readers, it’s OK to move away from the .99 price point. And I don’t plan to ever put a price on the first book, because giving it away free is a wonderful marketing tool.

    • 28/04/2012 at 10:05 pm

      Same for me Niki. Been experimenting with ebook prices for a year now and have finally decided on a formula that works for me. In brief it’s word based (and work based!), so anything under 25k is 99c and over that is 2.99. Of course sales are higher for my longer works if I drop them to 99c, but I need to sell 7 copies at that price to achieve the same return as on a 2.99 sale because of the 35% – 70% silliness of Amazon . Finally I think I’m satisfied with my pricing formula.

  • 06/05/2012 at 12:23 am

    Some useful insights, thank you.

    I wonder if genre has an influence on the price factor? A friend with a kindle downloaded some literary fiction and didn’t question the high price she paid. When I quizzed her about it, she said it wasn’t because it was Kate Grenville. She felt that was the right price for that kind of book (Aus $15 I think it was).

    I’m in the unusual situation where I have a first book traditionally published and therefore the ebook price is set by the publisher at $7.99. My follow-up in the series, which I’m in the process of self-publishing, will be a lot cheaper. But, based on what Niki’s saying, that’s the wrong way around! There’s nothing I can do about the first book’s price unfortunately, which I imagine is getting next to no downloads and will never be free for promotion purposes while it remains with the publisher.

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