Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Price Wars

Diving into what Mr. Hyde calls "sweet tasty fruits" of ebookage, I've found numerous opinions on the price of ebooks. Some authors argue that lowering prices devalues a writer's work. Okay, point taken. While I understand the philosophy behind charging more than 99 cents for a book, I also know the market. Cheap sells, especially for unknowns.

I'm an unknown author. Glad to meet you.

When I release We are the Monsters and Borrowed Saints, I want to charge a price that is a) fair to me and b) fair to the market. My goal (remember) is to tell stories. I don't want to put up a barrier between me and a potential reader.

So, do you go with the market or go with your heart? What is a fair price? What would you pay?

(and hey, there's a survey thingy in the upper right-hand corner)

22 comments:

Gabe said...

I think that it is a double edge sword. If you charge $.99, then you will most likely sell more, possibly hit the Kindle top 100, and still make a decent paycheck.

However, I'm a bit inclined to follow Joe Konrath's advice, and sell it for $2.99. You might not sell quite as many, but the royalty rate is higher and you have the possibility to make more.

He also suggests experimenting with the price, going back and forth and see how your sales do.

Rabid Fox said...

Honestly, I have yet to pay more than $5 for an e-book. I've yet to see one of a quality that deservedly demands more.

Granted, as technology becomes better and e-books become more sophisticated, I can see paying $10 or more for an interactive and dynamic e-book. Until then, however, $5 is my limit.

Belinda said...

I consider $2.99 a good deal. I am not swayed by that 99 cent stuff. I think it undervalues the writer's effort. I'd pay up to $5.00 for self-publishing, but admit that I've paid as high as $9.99 for e-books by established writers.

Barry Napier said...

I'm with you 100%. Since dropping the price of Masks... to 0.99 from 2.99, the sales have satrted to trickle in more and more by the day. Of course, I don't believe I will LEAVE it there forever. We'll see how that goes...

Robert said...

I paid $12.99 for the e-book version of ROOM (it was basically half-off the hardcover price). I also just recently paid $9.99 for the e-book version of SWAMPLANDIA! (again, basically half-off the hardcover price). But as I rule i don't buy that many expensive hardcovers. As an author, the $2.99 price point is nice because it's low and earns you just over 2 dollars per unit sold. The problem is $2.99 seems to be too expensive for some people. My plan for when I release THE CALLING is to do an introductory price of 99 cents for the first month and then move the price up to $2.99 (maybe even go $1.99) first.

Aaron Polson said...

Gabe - there will be plenty of experimentation, be sure.

Gef - We shall be seeing hybrid book-things soon.

Belinda - Point taken. Maybe my kidlets eat too much of my funds, but I'm loath to drop $5 or more for anything e-reader, regardless of the author.

Barry - You're gaining some momentum. Good luck.

Robert - I'll be watching your experiment, too. Great post the other day, re: Frustration.

Robert said...

Er ... I meant to say "as I rule i don't buy that many expensive e-books," not hardcovers. All hardcovers are expensive!

Natalie L. Sin said...

2 to 5 dollars, depending on how much I want it.

Danielle Ferries said...

I've paid up to $15.00 for e-books but in most cases I've known of (i.e., blogged with) the authors.

Cate Gardner said...

Depends on the author and the book. I'd say £2.99 is a nice number. Notice the £ sign - which means it would be about $3.49 in your money. To sway me to buy an ebook (despite loving my kindle) it needs to be cheaper than the paperback because I'll always choose paper first.

I've seen ebooks that are more expensive than the paper version. Madness.

Lee Thompson said...

I like the 3 to 5 smackers mark, too.

Akasha Savage. said...

I'm just in the process of putting together a collection of my short stories and making the anthology available as an ebook. I'm going for the fee £2.99

Katey said...

Oh god I just left this massive comment and it got eaten!

The long and short of it was:

Up to $5 on someone new if there are good reviews. If it looks dodgy or I'm really unsure, up to $3.

Well established midlisters with popular series, a few bucks more.

Up to $13 if it's something I'm desperate for (like, I'll probably get the new GRRM on my iPad--just did it with Dolnick's "The Clockwork Universe", too) that's only out in hardback just now, because I effing hate reading hardbacks. I have tiny hands and no more room for bookshelves, dammit.

Aaron Polson said...

Thanks, everyone. The wild world of ebooks is a strange pricing land, indeed.

onipar... said...

I also read Joe Konrath's post about e-book pricing, and I like that $2.99 starting price.

Yes, as an unknown, people will be more willing to pay lower prices, but I don't think too many people will begrudge a couple bucks.

Plus, here's the thing. If you start out at $2.99, you're at least giving yourself someplace to go if sales don't meet expectations. You can drop to $1.99, then .99, if sales aren't great at $2.99.

But if you *start* at .99, where do you go from there?

Walt Giersbach said...

Pricing is the new battlefield. In October 2010, I searched Barnes & Noble for Special Projects in Calamity Physics by Marisha Plessl. This 2006 novel had been an immediate bestseller. Now, Amazon is discounting the trade paperback down from $15.00 to $10.50, while offering a Kindle download for $12.99. Barnes & Noble listed the trade paper at $10.80 and the e-book at $12.99.

Take a deep breath and think about it. It doesn’t take a wizard to know something’s wrong when the price of a digital product approaches or exceeds the cost of a formatted, typeset, printed, bound and shipped version that is subject to returns.

Nicki Elson said...

This is an eye-opening post for me. My publisher decides the prices---right now all e-boks are set at $4.99 and Kindle's something like $6.99. An issue some of our authors are having is readers uploading books to free sharing sites. I wonder if lowering the price would help that. Making something is better than nothing. Huh, perhaps I'll suggest an e-book sale & see if anyone listens.

Aaron Polson said...

Tony - A very good point. Having some "play" is nice.

Walt - I hear that loud and clear. Publishers are in the business to make money, and they'll search for that sweet spot.

Nicki - It might not hurt. Volume, volume, volume...and all that.

K.C. Shaw said...

I've paid up to about $15 for an ebook I really wanted that wasn't available except in hardback. Mostly I prefer $5-6 for authors I know and love, $3-4 for authors I haven't tried but know the publisher's respectable, and $2 or less for everything else. You might release first at $1.99 and if sales aren't brisk enough after a few weeks or months, run a 99cent sale and see what happens.

Benjamin Solah said...

I think around $10 is a fair price. Please don't undersell yourself just to get heaps of sales, I think you deserve much more than .99c for something you put your heart and soul into.

People seem to be willing to pay more for a beer than an eBook which kind of shits me.

Guinevere said...

I think 2.99 to 5.99 is ideal e-book pricing. Since there isn't the physical cost of the book to consider, I'm not willing to spend as much for an e-book as for a regular book, but I do love knowing that more of that $4.99 or whatever goes to the author than with a printed book!

I think pricing your book less than $2.99 only makes sense for a short work (like a novella or short story) OR if you have a series and do promotional pricing on the first book. Otherwise, 99 cents seems too little for your creative work to me.

Aaron Polson said...

K.C. - $15? I can't remember the last time I paid that much. (I'm in love with trade paperbacks, and get most discounted online).

Benjamin - I hear you on the beer front. Although a couple of BBQ joints around here have dollar night...

Guinevere - I, too, am happy to pay the author (more of the $$ going to the author's pocket).