There 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.