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Old 10-15-2010, 10:03 AM   #16
Zyzomys
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I think Amazon has already made the decision for most authors by setting $2.99 as the minimum price so that authors are paid 70% royalty fees. The top range, before Agency Pricing, was $9.99. I think those are the ranges authors need to consider. Price older works at $2.99, and more recent works at a higher price (but always below the cheapest available book version). If people like your books, they will pay what ever price you set, as long as they feel they are getting value.
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Old 10-15-2010, 11:08 AM   #17
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Though I bought my new ereader mainly for public domain and library books, I wanted to buy ebooks of a handful of my special favorites--books I already own and treasure in hardcover. Well, so far the ones I've checked--books that are around 50 years old--have had ebook prices of $12 or $13, compared to trade paperback prices of either the same or a dollar less. This is just insane.

So while I would have happily bought these ebooks at, say, $5 apiece, just to have them in another format, there's no way I will buy them at $12. They could have made some money off me with moderate pricing, but now will make nothing off me. Where's the common sense?

I'd like to see some innovative offers--e.g., offering a physical book with a special code to unlock a digital version as well (charging an extra buck or two for the privilege). Or to move backlist books, offering a discount for an ebook if you own a physical copy of the book already (you would have to enter the physical book's SKU to get the discount--Disney has done this to encourage buyers to upgrade to Blu-ray DVDs).
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Old 10-15-2010, 11:23 AM   #18
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If people like your books, they will pay what ever price you set, as long as they feel they are getting value.
You've got to get to the state that people like your books though. And to do that, they've got to read them.
A book by an un- or lesser- known author is more of a risk, so I'm not willing to pay as much.
How do I know if I like your books if I don't buy and read them?
If you think you've got several books in you, or already have some older books out there, you might do better to pick one to sell at a lower price, so that people can find out about you.

Last edited by murraypaul; 10-15-2010 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 10-15-2010, 12:57 PM   #19
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I'd like to see some innovative offers--e.g., offering a physical book with a special code to unlock a digital version as well
Actually a vivid point in the discussion of RPG-rulebooks as a bundle, where having both editions would be extremely useful.
(use paper as textbook, and electronic for glossary lookup and handout-making)
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Old 10-15-2010, 01:24 PM   #20
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Steve, I always try to consider what other options the customer has when evaluating a price. If I can buy a new, paper book from a proven, best-selling author for $8, then why would I pay the same amount for an e-only title from a self-published author I have never heard of? I skip over anything on Smashwords that is priced above about $4.99, personally.
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Old 10-15-2010, 01:41 PM   #21
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It's not so simple -- pricing -- and ebooks usually win on both price and availability. Take Stephen Fry in Canada. I can buy an ePub from kobobooks, a Kindle from Amazon, a paper edition from Indigo (largest Canadian book chain) or online from amazon.ca.

New Books
Stephen Fry in America - Harper Collins 2010
$20.09 kobobooks • $15.39 ebook amazon
paper n/a amazon • $29.69 hardcover Indigo; trade n/a • Indigo in store $44.99

The Fry Chronicles - Penguin 2010
$17.59 kobobooks • ebook n/a amazon
$31.62 hardcover amazon, trade n/a • n/a paper Indigo

Backlist Books

The Liar - Random House 1991
$8.69 kobobooks • $8.12 ebook amazon
$10.80 trade amazon • n/a paper Indigo

The Hippopotamus - Random House 1994
$8.69 kobobooks • $8.67 ebook amazon
n/a paper amazon • n/a paper Indigo

As you can see, kobobooks does very well in terms of price and availability. But, new books are definitely too expensive!
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Old 10-15-2010, 03:22 PM   #22
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@SensualPoet: Are those numbers with your HRT (sales tax Provincial and Federal)? No Provincial tax here in Alberta
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Old 10-15-2010, 03:26 PM   #23
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I typically like my ebook pricing to be similar to traditional pricing. So for traditionally published authors I'll go up to around US $7.50. If it's a new release and still in hardback (which means I really love the author if I'm buying it that quickly), I'm willing to do about US $12.00. For "The Unknown" (Smashwords/self-published) I usually cap out around US $3.00.
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Old 10-15-2010, 03:48 PM   #24
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I've paid $12 for quite a few of my ebooks. It doesn't make a difference to me what form my book is in. Ebook or pbook, I just want to read If I'm willing to pay $12 for a pbook, why not an ebook? Just my opinion.
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Old 10-15-2010, 06:38 PM   #25
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Ok guys, I've got a question for everyone since we're on the topic of ebook pricing. When I first asked earlier this year what price I should sell my ebooks at, the vast majority of people quoted me the 2/3rds rule. IE, ebook price = 2/3rds of print copy shelf price. So for example a $12 print book would have an $8 ebook price. Now I'm hearing a lot of negative kickback from people stating that anything above $5, regardless of the print cover price, is too high, and that $1.99-$2.99 is the "sweet" spot that most books should be priced at. So what do you guys say?
I would generally say somewhere between 25-30%, BUT...

...I also make decisions based on if the author's work is known to me (more willing to pay a little more if I love the author's work), the length of the book (no 30K novel is worth $15, IMO, regardless of who wrote it), and whether it's mainstream or independently published (sorry, but I'm tired of being burnt by badly written/edited indies).

Personally, unless it's an author's backlist, if I see a full-length novel for $1.99 - $2.99, I assume it's indie garbage (unfair, I know, but still true). I have no problem paying $5-6 for a full-length novel (80K +). The author and publisher deserve to make a living from their work.

On the other hand, I almost never buy those $1.99 - $2.99 novellas. When you consider I can buy a MMPB with 4 novellas for that $5-6 price, $2.99 makes the novella an expensive proposition, at cost-per-word. Top that off with the fact that I prefer long fiction to short (not everyone can write short well - and I'm one of them as this email attests!), and novellas and other short fiction are just "too expensive" unless they're $1 or less.

Of course, that's all just my opinion. Your core readership may differ. I don't tend to buy a lot of science fiction, although I do have a few series I enjoy.
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Old 10-15-2010, 07:17 PM   #26
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@SensualPoet: Are those numbers with your HRT (sales tax Provincial and Federal)? No Provincial tax here in Alberta
No, those prices are before taxes, handling or shipping. I'm not trying to make the point kobobooks is cheapest -- just competitive and usually a good bargain over paper. Those oddball prices are right off the website. Amazon.com is charging US$8.12 for The Liar to Canadians ... where that price comes from, I have no idea. Why not $7.99 or $8.25?
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Old 10-15-2010, 07:20 PM   #27
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Ok guys, I've got a question for everyone since we're on the topic of ebook pricing. When I first asked earlier this year what price I should sell my ebooks at, the vast majority of people quoted me the 2/3rds rule. IE, ebook price = 2/3rds of print copy shelf price. So for example a $12 print book would have an $8 ebook price. Now I'm hearing a lot of negative kickback from people stating that anything above $5, regardless of the print cover price, is too high, and that $1.99-$2.99 is the "sweet" spot that most books should be priced at. So what do you guys say? What should be the ebook price for a $12 book, or even an $8 print book? If the acceptable market price for ebooks has changed, I want to know what prices I should charge (or what formula I should use to determine prices) so I can make the changes on my end rather than being left in the cold because my books are priced too high.
If you're selling through a site where it's easy to compare the ebook price relative to the pbook price then it's important to price the ebook lower. If you're selling on a site that only sells ebooks then people will compare to the typical price for that site. If I were you I would consider Baen to be the benchmark for SF and price to match them.
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Old 10-15-2010, 07:40 PM   #28
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No, those prices are before taxes, handling or shipping. I'm not trying to make the point kobobooks is cheapest -- just competitive and usually a good bargain over paper. Those oddball prices are right off the website.
Yes, the prices do look bizarre. I guess when they discount a book with more usual looking prices by a given % you get numbers like that.
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Old 10-16-2010, 01:40 AM   #29
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Ditto on what most others have said. For an author I know that I like I am likely to pay more. Also, I am likely to pay more for an unknown author from a publisher. It seems that there is significant quality risk with self-published works from unknown authors. Of course, the tough thing about this is that some publishers believe their premium is worth too much. Generally I won't pay more than $9.99 unless its someone I really like and an existing series I am anxious to latch onto.

Unless it really has good reviews (not just 4 or five reviews) I'm not likely to spend much (anything?) on a new self-published work. Realistically, this means that I look for self-published authors who have several works, and the first one is free. Once I sample the free book, I am willing to pay even more ($5 to $10) for subsequent books.

The one exception to my $9.99 rule? Baen's ARC books at $15. They've found an interesting way to monetize the value of time. If you want it so early that its not even proofread yet, you can get an advanced copy for $15. So, I'd think about ways to sell something other than just the book if you are looking for more money. Off the top of my head:

- ARC's like Baen does
- Run an ebay auction -- the highest bidder gets to name one of the characters in your book. It not only brings in some money (possibly not that much) but it generates publicity.
- On a different route, make a book free only for the first 50? 100? requests and ask each free reader to 'pay' you by leaving an honest review -- you aren't paying for biased reviews, just for leaving any reviews at all.
- If ARCs have value, I wonder if rabid readers would be willing to pay for a brief outline, and then for a copy of the book as soon as it is released? Yes, the outline would be a massive spoiler, but for fans, it might just peak their interest and getting them to generate a buzz in advance of the release. The biggest problem with this approach would be the headache if those fans think that they can critique the work and change it since its still a work in process.
- If you are into writing short stories, here is another interesting angle. Write a short story and make it free on the web. At the bottom of the story, include affiliate links to amazon, like this: Other books in this style include: The Dresden Files, by ....

Can anyone else think of ways an author can extract value from their work? Is there some way to give away a book and make money on advertising (it doesn't seem to me that you could generate enough this way, but any ideas out there?)
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Old 10-16-2010, 02:19 AM   #30
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Stephen Fry in America is $16.99 at the Reader store. I can't imagine what the publisher is thinking. It's 40% higher than the best-sellers, and that book is widely pirated.
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