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Old 11-29-2009, 03:27 PM   #1
Halk
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Puzzling out Fictionwise

I've only bought one book from Fictionwise before (as a result I have a $9 micropay sitting).

I'm about to buy a pile of books and I'm trying to get my head around how their discounts work. In a simple sense of course I do understand...

You buy a book and they give you a micropay rebate.
You can then use your micropay rebates to buy other books.

However all of the books that I've searched for have been micropay only credit card rebates.

What this actually means is if a book costs $8 and there's a $4 micropay rebate then I'll look and think the book is $4, which seems reasonable. So intuitively I start thinking of the books costing $4... So I think I buy one, and use the micropay to get the next one. Except there's no micropay rebate if I use micropay to buy it. So if there's a 50% rebate then I need to actually buy two books before I can use micropay to get the third.

In other words you can't look at a 50% micropay rebate as the book half price. It won't work that way. There are some books with a 100% rebate... likewise you can't look at these books as "free".

So I thought I'd work out a simple equation to convert the micropay discount percentage into an actual discount percentage to make it easier to compare book prices. It's actually very simple... divide the micropay discount by two. So if there's a 33% micropay discount on 3 books and you buy em all.. you pay 200% of the cost of one book for three books, or you pay 2/3 of the cost. This works for any micropay discount percentage as long as it is the same for all of your purchases.

I notice that there are some books with a 100% micropay rebate, for those you should use real money to pay for them. They aren't so common though.

So in short...

Ignore the "Cost after Rebate" and the "You Save" fields in the shop, they are deliberately misleading. You have to work out the figure yourself by removing 1/2 of the micropay discount from the "You Pay". The simple explanation for this is that micropay money can only be used to buy books at full cover price, buying the book from a Fictionwise competitor would be at a lower price than this. The discount can only be used against an inflated price.

That aside though I've not been particularly observant of Fictionwise so I don't know if the discounts they have on right now change periodically. For example most of the books I'm looking at now have 45% micropay rebates, and credit card. Is this pretty normal, or does it vary? For example is it sometimes 20% and rebate regardless if you pay by credit card?

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Old 11-29-2009, 04:50 PM   #2
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It's just 45% right now, AFAIK - other times it varies. You're right though, the Micropay rebates aren't real savings, since the asking price is often jacked up if you use Micropay (or decreased to a more realistic level through discounts or rebates if you don't, which amounts to about the same thing as far as I'm concerned). While I do most of my ebook shopping there and am satisfied on the whole, this doesn't impress me as a particularly straightforward approach. In fact, it almost seems designed to confuse.

That said, I think it's possible to get books for a reasonable average price by being careful. Personally, I tend to use the Micropay dollars to buy lots of lower priced books, especially at times when the discounts/rebates aren't so good. That tends to keep the average per-book price down. But I can't say I've kept track, so maybe I'm fooling myself...

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Old 11-29-2009, 04:54 PM   #3
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All in all they seem to be a fair chunk cheaper than elsewhere.

The reason I was looking is that I'm reading book one of a series (on paperback) again and I'd like to read the whole series. I have 9 dollars of micropay to start off with, but the whole series will come out at about $100 or so. I'd like to pay as little as possible for it.

So I'm thinking that I should make the cash purchases just now while cash gives a 45% micropay rebate. But I should hold off on making micropay purchases, since they currently give 0%. By the time I'm ready for further books in the series I'll be able to use micropay, and frankly it can't be any more expensive than a 0% discount, perhaps by then they'll have changed things and I'll get some kind of rebate on those purchases.
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Old 11-29-2009, 05:11 PM   #4
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That's what I do too. I just try to avoid having a huge pile of Micropay dollars still sitting there when the next batch of tempting new books at attractive credit card-only discounts comes along...
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Old 11-29-2009, 05:20 PM   #5
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Well, thanks Wayrad. That at least confirms I've gone along the right track.

As far as membership is concerned I did some calculations.

There's a 15% discount, plus (as far as I understand) you get 1 book up to $10 free. Assuming the free book chosen is $8, then instead of paying for it, and getting a 45% micropay rebate... it would be full price book instead of one with an (effective 22.5% discount) which means the book at $8 really would cost $6.20. So for a one year "sub" of $30, you get an immediate 6.20 back. Meaning the balance of 23.80 would have to work out over the year. Again assuming a 22.5% average discount through micropay, the 15% discount is actually 11.625% (because your micropay rebates are from the 15% discounted price, not from the full price). That means you would need to be buying $204 of books for it to be worth it. Again at an average price of $8 that would mean 25 books across the year.

For me that's definately not worth it. I may well read a book every two weeks. Sometimes I read more... in the past two weeks I've read 15 books, but I was on holiday. I expect that I read a book every 3 weeks, and an extra 20 on holiday so I probably read around 40 books in a year. I very much doubt that they'll all come from Fictionwise...

I have not accounted for their large purchase discount, which would make it more worthwhile to buy from them. If I was going to buy 100 of books in one purchase then I'd receive an extra 5% discount (it's 10% in micropay, which is worth 5%) so that would nudge it down a little more...

Even still, the savings to be made from the club are so small that it's not worth tying myself to fictionwise.
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Old 11-29-2009, 05:53 PM   #6
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Even if your assumptions are right (low priced, $8 books only) and ignoring some of the sales open only to members (granted, these are usually 5-year members only), if you have to buy $200 worth of books to "break even" and you read 40 books a year, you would still be above the $200 break even point (assuming you stick with only $6 books; you'd be well above if your books averaged $8-$10). That also assumes you buy no subscriptions (not everyone does).

And for the free book - if you watch carefully, you can find one for 9.99, maximizing savings. Of course, if you are member and ignoring micropay, it would have been 8.50, so you aren't saving the entire $10 at that point (except that if you had not purchased the membership, it would have cost the entire $10, so you really are saving that $10 and only need to recover another $20 to break even ...).

Really, you can ignore micropay in your calculations, as you'll get less back, but spend less if you are a member. At 15%, that's about $135 in books for a break-even point, if you maximize the free book's value.

Of course, if you use cash to pay for new bestsellers, which average $15-20 each, that won't take long (and you'll then probably have the entire amount in micropay to spend on "cheaper" books, and you still get your discount on those and micropay when they are not having these crazy end-of-year sales on their entire catalog).
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Old 11-29-2009, 06:03 PM   #7
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One thing to remember is that Fictionwise occasionally offers 100% rebates on subscriptions to the Buywise club. This certainly makes it more attractive.
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Old 11-29-2009, 06:16 PM   #8
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Even if your assumptions are right (low priced, $8 books only) and ignoring some of the sales open only to members (granted, these are usually 5-year members only), if you have to buy $200 worth of books to "break even" and you read 40 books a year, you would still be above the $200 break even point (assuming you stick with only $6 books; you'd be well above if your books averaged $8-$10). That also assumes you buy no subscriptions (not everyone does).
But that ties me in to Fictionwise completely. It also assumes that all of the books I read are relatively popular modern paperback types. That's not the case, I seldom read very new books (equivalent of hardcover I guess), and I read maybe 50/50 free and in copyright books. So I'd need to be buying everything that I paid for from Fictionwise. If I end up buying 30 books from Fictionwise, that's 50% more than I would expect, then I've only lost around $10. I'm willing to drop that $10 in order to not tie myself in. Any saving made from the buyers club is so small that I think it's best to either wait until I know I'm going to be buying lots of books from them, or just simpler to forget about it all together. Unless I was buying best sellers... more below

Quote:
And for the free book - if you watch carefully, you can find one for 9.99, maximizing savings. Of course, if you are member and ignoring micropay, it would have been 8.50, so you aren't saving the entire $10 at that point (except that if you had not purchased the membership, it would have cost the entire $10, so you really are saving that $10 and only need to recover another $20 to break even ...).
That's only if I can find a book I want at $10. And I really am not saving $10. I could have bought the book from Fictionwise and got a 45% micropay rebate, which I've explained above comes to about $2.25.

Quote:
Really, you can ignore micropay in your calculations, as you'll get less back, but spend less if you are a member. At 15%, that's about $135 in books for a break-even point, if you maximize the free book's value.
I've not ignored micropay But it is NOT 15%, as I've said above. It comes out as less.

Quote:
Of course, if you use cash to pay for new bestsellers, which average $15-20 each, that won't take long (and you'll then probably have the entire amount in micropay to spend on "cheaper" books, and you still get your discount on those and micropay when they are not having these crazy end-of-year sales on their entire catalog).
Best sellers are, I think, where the cut is for the book club. Anyone who can buy 10 books a year from Fictionwise at $20 would benefit from the buyers club. I certainly won't be doing that, there's a lot of books already written, and I've got a lot of catching up to do before I reach the point where the only books I'd want to read are new ones. There's a few exceptions of course, for fiction books in a series, when the next one comes out it's very tempting to buy it. Indeed the only purchase I have made from Fictionwise has been the last Terry Pratchett book, and I'll no doubt buy any books he comes out with as soon as they're released.
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Old 11-29-2009, 06:19 PM   #9
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One thing to remember is that Fictionwise occasionally offers 100% rebates on subscriptions to the Buywise club. This certainly makes it more attractive.
It does, and I think if I ever got to the point where I had 20 or books that I knew I was going to read, and I still had plenty to keep me going then the buyers club when there was an offer on would be something to go on. However I tend not to work that way. I tend to read a genre until I get fed up with it and switch to something else, so I can't really expect to have a list of 20 or 30 books I'd want to buy at once. Not every book fits neatly into one genre only. for example if I read a historical fiction book set in the Roman Empire, I have no idea if I would want to read more historical fiction based around real historical events, of if I'd want to read more fiction set in Roman times.
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Old 11-29-2009, 07:38 PM   #10
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You can get the outright discounts (i.e. don't have to pay with credit card) on the multiformat books if you are willing to deviate from well-known authors. I use my micropay on those, and on things like magazine subscriptions which seldom go on sale.
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:11 PM   #11
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Here are some fairly accurate (although not exact) numbers showing my experience with Fictionwise. I made my first purchase from Fictionwise in January, but didn't join the Buywise program until March when they offered a $15 micropay rebate on their membership fee. Since January I have spent (in real dollars - credit card and/or paypal) just under $500. This includes the cost of my initial Buywise membership, and extending it for 5 years to take advantage of 100% micropay rebate offers. For that $500 I have received books with a value of at least $885. The number is actually higher than that, because I figured it at a straight 15% discount, but quite a few of the purchases were at higher percentages off (anywhere from 20-50%). That is the straight discount off purchase price for Buywise membership I'm talking about, not micropay rebates.

I still have 4 free book coupons available to use and $67.11 in micropay dollars available, so even if I do nothing more than use up my micropay dollars and the free book coupon codes, I will still have received books worth almost double what I've paid, and my Buywise membership doesn't expire for 5 years, so I'm sure I'll spend a lot more than that.

I don't buy a lot of the bestsellers with the $100 micropay rebates (only very occasionally), but I do shop their sales carefully to maximize my investment.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:40 PM   #12
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That's only if I can find a book I want at $10. And I really am not saving $10. I could have bought the book from Fictionwise and got a 45% micropay rebate, which I've explained above comes to about $2.25.
But the 45% micropay rebate is an abberation - a one week only sale (that they did last year ... and had a bigger one just at new years, also only a week). Most of the time, you do get micropay rebates, up to about 35%, even when paying via micropay. Two weeks ago they had 50% rebates on some authors and you could pay with micropay.

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I've not ignored micropay But it is NOT 15%, as I've said above. It comes out as less.
The club membership is 15% off the top - you do get less micropay, true, so I suppose that mean you get slightly less off, when paying with credit.

Their club isn't for everyone, true.

Then again, I renewed during the 100% rebate on subscriptions (which they have once a year or so, it seems). So, I'm ahead even before I buy one book, as my past buying habits easily exceed the annual fee.
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Old 11-30-2009, 03:21 AM   #13
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Since January I have spent (in real dollars - credit card and/or paypal) just under $500. This includes the cost of my initial Buywise membership, and extending it for 5 years to take advantage of 100% micropay rebate offers. For that $500 I have received books with a value of at least $885. The number is actually higher than that, because I figured it at a straight 15% discount, but quite a few of the purchases were at higher percentages off (anywhere from 20-50%). That is the straight discount off purchase price for Buywise membership I'm talking about, not micropay rebates.
Clearly buying that amount makes the club worthwhile. I don't think anyone would be confused over the value of it!

Out of interest, were you buying books that you wanted to have available to read, and you now have a nice big library, or was that books that you've mostly read over the year?

Going off on a tangent.. 500 dollars is only 42 dollars a month, which is only £25 a month. Compared to a subscription to cable TV that's not expensive. So while your spend looks like a large amount, it's not that much relative to other forms of entertainment. Certainly 100 books read is better than 1,000 hours glued to the idiot box!
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Old 11-30-2009, 03:26 AM   #14
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But the 45% micropay rebate is an abberation - a one week only sale (that they did last year ... and had a bigger one just at new years, also only a week). Most of the time, you do get micropay rebates, up to about 35%, even when paying via micropay. Two weeks ago they had 50% rebates on some authors and you could pay with micropay.
That's what I wanted to know. It means the micropay is a bit better than what I had put it down as.

For example if I was to buy 10 books now at $8, leaving me a micropay rebate of $36. When the sale ends and normal prices are back, assuming a 25% micropay rebate when using micropay then that's an additional $9 when the 36 is spent.. meaning that 10 books becomes around 15.

It does all end up being irrelevant though, compared to the other online retailers Fictionwise just seems a big chunk cheaper. The Micropay just needs a little bit of understanding before it's used to get the best value for money, and I suspect it lends very well to large micropay balances and buying more books than intended!

Thanks for the help on this thread follks. I don't think it's possible to absolutely quantify the micropay, because of the variable offers, and because nobody will purchase the same things at the same times, but it does seem to be much better than the 10-20% discount from elsewhere.
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Old 11-30-2009, 05:32 AM   #15
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Thanks for the help on this thread follks. I don't think it's possible to absolutely quantify the micropay, because of the variable offers, and because nobody will purchase the same things at the same times, but it does seem to be much better than the 10-20% discount from elsewhere.
I just added up my spend this year. I did have quite a big micropay balance at the start of the year - $83.76. It's now down to $13.44.

During the year I've spent $361.53 from Credit card, $384.36 from Micropay, got $314.04 in micropay rebates, and bought 149 books at an average net cost of $2.90. ( $361.53 + net micropay of $70.32: 431.85/149 = $2.90)

Total (current) retail cost of the 149 books is $1090

So on average, I got a discount of 60% off retail. I must admit, this is higher than I'd thought it would be, but I've checked the figures carefully, and they are right. Mean retail price is $7.31. Mode retail price is $7.99 (32/149).

This was obtained by choosing when to buy. Only using your credit card on 100% micropay rebate, or very high rebate is a good thing. Buying with micropay when there's a good micropay rebate going on is also good.
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