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Ebook Pricing: How Much Is too Much?

| Posted in E-publishing |

46

Last week, we looked at reasons why new, independent authors often feel they need to price their novel-length ebooks at 99 cents (and why they probably shouldn’t). Perhaps as a backlash against all those 99-cent ebooks, and the fact that some readers may assume cheaper novels mean inferior novels, some self-published authors are heading off in the other direction. They’re bumping prices up to Big 6 rates of $7.99 and above.

I sell my Emperor’s Edge fantasy novels for $4.95 (with the first one free), and I feel that’s a fair price all around. They’re full-length novels (over 100,000 words each), so readers get the equivalent of 400-500 paperback pages for $5, and, since I’m an indie and get the 70% royalty, I earn about $3.30 per sale.

The last I heard, traditionally published authors were averaging around 25% of that 70% on ebook sales, and then 15% of that number goes off to the agent. I’m too lazy to do the math, but I know that’s less than $3 per book, even on an ebook that sells for $8 or $9 instead of $5. This is part of why I feel like I can afford to price my ebooks at lower rates than the Big 6 (and because I’m currently selling enough to make a living at the $4.95 price).

Not everybody feels that way though. Some independent authors believe that $7.99 or $8.99 is a fair price, since that’s what the big boys charge. (Though, interestingly, the ebooks Amazon publishes under its own imprints tend to be in the $3.99 and $4.99 range; there are lots of news stories out there about how they’re trying to drive ebook prices down, and they seem to be leading by example with their own authors.)

I’m not going to say there’s anything wrong with indie authors charging more for ebooks (hey, if it’s working for you, go for it), but I’d be curious to hear what others think, both readers and authors.

How much is too much?

  • Readers, what’s a fair price for a novel-length ebook, what’s less fair (but not so unfair that you wouldn’t buy), and what’s unreasonable?
  • Self-published authors, do you feel that your novels should sell for the same price as Big 6 published ebooks? Or do you feel that the higher royalty you receive means you can make your books more affordable?

In case anyone is wondering, no, I’m not planning on raising the prices on my own novels (no matter what the results are of this informal poll). I just thought we might get some helpful feedback for those who are deciding on a pricing model for their work.

 

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Comments (46)

I don’t know, I’m kind of up in the air about pricing.

On the one hand, I want to make a profit from all my hard work. But realistically speaking, from my own experiences as a reader, I know there’s no way I’d pay $9.99 for an ebook. It’s an intangible bit of digital media that I can’t in good conscience give away to other people or even really hold in my hands and smell the paper it’s printed on.

For 100,000 words, $4.99 seems like a good price. So when I see someone trying to sell an ebook that’s only 50,000 words for $7.99… I immediately back off until either the price drops or I can get it as a Kindle lendable. Then, maybe if it’s super good, I might decide to buy it. Though probably not.

It’s not a matter of what’s “fair” or not. There is no “fair.” It’s whatever the market will bear. If people will buy your books at $8.99, and you are satisfied with the sales numbers, then that’s your price.

John Locke started out selling all of his Kindle novels at 99¢ on purpose and sold one million of them in five months. Now many/most of them are $2.99. I don’t know how, or if, that has changed his sales numbers, but he obviously now feels comfortable selling his books at a slightly higher price.

I’m selling my Amazon how-to book, “Anyone Can Make a Kindle Book,” for $2.99 for two reasons: I believe it’s a fair price for an informational book that has 188 pages and over 100 screen captures, and it’s low enough that the people who want/need the information that it provides should be able to afford it without having to make the baby go without new shoes.

But there’s a third reason why my book is not a 99¢ book, and I say so in the introduction: too often, something that is obtained at zero price is treated as if it has zero worth.

Unless you’re using a 99¢ book as a loss-leader introduction to the rest of your writings, I’d think long and hard about setting a book’s price that low. Maximizing your financials is a juggling act between your sales numbers, commission percentages, and your loyal readership.

And you thought that all you had to do was write a book!

I am immensly interested to see readers responding to this, becasue I’m considering self-publishing and have no idea what prices to set. I’ve only just started to read e-books, so haven’t decided yet what MY personal idea of good pricing is. While the cheapest do appeal I have come across a few serious duds at that lower end of the scale (though I am reading a brillant 99center right now). I’ll be watching these comments!

I don’t know if I can speak for the wide range of consumers, but I am living literally hand to mouth. I have to think really hard about spending more than $5 on a book whether it’s print or digital. Since I don’t go in for romance novels much (about the only thing that’s pretty much always under $5) I have to spend more.

That was, until I got my Nook and learned about how much stuff there is out there in my price range. I’m still thinking about that copy of Game of Thrones at Walmart for $6 something, but Lady of Devices (which I probably like far better than I’ll like Thrones) is already purchased and in my library. I just bought a book yesterday at $2.99.

The closer I get to $5 the more I have to think about it.

Of course, those of you who don’t have to plan your budget around haircuts once a year might have different spending habits.

As I said on the other post, I’m selling better at $5.99 than at $2.99 or even than I last did at $4.99. Can’t sell my books at $.99! Though I’m not anything close to a top seller, of course. Not yet.

I don’t plan on experimenting higher. I’m in the fair price point based on the RWA ebook pricing survey. Different genre, obviously, but it matches my *current* results.

I figure most traditional ebooks are at 9.99 and 7.99 and at $5.99 I’m a bargain one step below that.

I don’t think I could have sold at this price point six months ago. Prices and expectations have been changing.

I’ll pay the same as I would for a paperback (around $8) for a professionally written book by an author I know. I’ll pay the same for a book someone recommends, but I’m less likely to pay that much for a self-published book because I don’t know why that author is self-published.

Some self-published books are great, but I’ve also read some that read like rough drafts and I kick myself for spending any time on. Many times, sample pages aren’t enough. The sample can be promising, and then the book falls apart in chapter four.

I won’t pay over $10 for an e-book. I dislike paying 99 cents for an e-novel. The 99 cent price point is for short stories, loss leaders, and the dregs of humanity that will be first against the wall when the revolution comes. When a brand new author with no other work puts their novel out for 99 cents all I can think is, “This is going to suck. If they put any time or effort into this novel, they’d at least charge $2.”

Is that all horribly biased and based on irrational reactions to bad e-book experiences? Yes. But it’s still how I buy.

Reader, here. 9.99 is the most I’ve paid for an e-book, and honestly, I feel like they should be cheaper. However, I will pay that price for a book I KNOW I want. I feel like most e-books should be around the 7.99 range, so anything cheaper than that and I feel like I’m getting a deal. I LOVE 2.99 books. I’m more likely to impulse buy at 2.99 and below.

I’ll pay up to $9.99 for a professionally published book — albeit only for a book I really, really want to read — because I know that it has been professionally edited, and that is my No. 1 issue with self-published books. If you (you being the hypothetical author, not you specifically, Lindsay) want to charge the same price as a publishing house, you’d darn well better put the same effort into making that book as polished as it can be.

I do read self-published books, of course, but anything over $5 makes me think very hard about the purchase. How are the reviews? How many reviews are there? Are they all glowing and thus potentially planted? Is the blurb well-written and relevant? When I’m on the fence, I read the sample first and decide from there.

If e-books are in the $2-$5 range and catch my interest, I’m more likely to just buy. $1 e-books make me wonder if they’re a) cheaply written or edited or b) too short to be worth my time.

I agree with Chandra, I’m quite poor and so I almost never shell out 10 bucks for a book. I didn’t even BEFORE the e-book revolution, unless it was something I really really wanted. What indie authors have done for me is that they’ve given me the opportunity to buy and read more books by great writers than ever before.

Maybe it’s me, but as a kid I got used to buying my (adult) books at around the $5 price point. I’ve rather felt ripped off since those couple years when inflation rose and books hopped to around $7 then $10 (not to mention hardcover new releases). Paying double for the same amount of story? Heckno, I said. *amused* Those e-books I’ve seen priced for $12.99 I just shake my head at. No way.

I recently bought some used books published in the 80s and y’know what they were being sold at? $2.95. Crazy.

Which brings up another point about the e-revolution. There’s no way to sell back a book you don’t want as “used”. No way to earn back your money off of a purchase you decide you don’t like, want, or need. I have several audiobooks I’ve collected over the years that I really don’t want but I can’t get rid of because they’re digital and I bought the “license-to-use-it” rather than something physical.

So I’d much rather take a risk on a book that’s cheaper rather than one that’s not. That’s money I’m never getting back.

To answer the easy one first, the only time I consider the ebook price “unreasonable” is if I can get a print copy for the same price or cheaper. I’m still partial to physical books so I’ll always by a $12 hardback before a $12 ebook.
Now for the harder question. Ido consider the book a gamble I don’t usually want to pay more than I do for a soda, candy bar, or some other frivolous purchase. That way if it’s awful, I don’t feel like I wasted my money. The flip side to that though is once I know I like the author, like you Lindsay, I don’t mind spending $5 a book because I know I’ll like it and I think you deserve the money you’ll get from my purchase.
As for old book that are being “digitally remastered” it’s slim that I’ll pay much more than $2 because I can get it from my public library for free.
So I guess a lot comes down to supply and demand. If the public library doesn’t have it or the wait list is 20 people long, then I start comparing ebook vs print price.

I’m a reader! If its anything under $8 and I like the sound of it then I will probably buy. With that being said ever since I got into ebooks I have been burned a terrible amount by books that were just awful. As terrible as this sounds, if its around .99 then I don’t feel so bad and the review I leave is honest. If it’s over $5 and there was no editing done on the book whatsoever then I am going to be angry and my review is going to reflect that. If you put the work into a book and you spent the time to have it edited and made sure it was as good as it could be before you put it on the market, well you should get your money for that effort. If you write the book and then just put it out there for us to read, expect to get burnt for it.
Now after my tirade! If it’s an author I have never read I probably won’t consider buying it unless its cheaper, under $5 or so. If its someone I read and I enjoyed the books, well then whatever the price they set on future books, within reason, I will probably buy it.

There’s no way I’d pay over $7 for an ebook. I might as well wait a bit and get a paperback. Sure, I love it when an ebook I REALLY REALLY want to read is under $5.

The only way I could ever spend over $7 on an ebook is if it was a non-fiction and I knew I could learn something from it. Otherwise, I just roll my eyes and wonder how on earth these people make a living, with prices like that?

I usually go with what works on me as a reader. I know 99 cents/ 99p will get me to impulse buy a book from an unknown author. Nothing else will except free. That’s why I put the first book in my series at 99 cents. After that, like a bunch of other people, I experimented with pricing. For the series I did not find any difference in sales between $2.99, $3.99 and $4.99 so I went with $4.99. With my non-series books I have been experimenting with price points as high as $5.99 for books. Sales actually went up slightly when I jumped one book from $2.99 to $5.99. It does seem to vary with genre though. All the books I have talked about so far are fantasy. My mystery novel definitely sells better at $2.99 than anything else.

I had the same experience. Slight uptick when moving from $2.99 to $5.99. And it does vary with genre. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed fantasy readers are more critical of lower prices than thriller readers. Why that is, I have no idea.

I currently sell my 140k fantasy novel for $3.99, mainly as I’m aware that I’m a new name to readers, and I want them to take a chance on me. I see $4.99 as a fair price, especially if you have an offer on the first book of a series (which I plan to do when the next book’s out – yep, I’m totally copying you, Lindsay!).

There’s no question ebooks from the big 6 are overpriced, and readers can see that. It’s short-sighted and self-defeating, but also pretty handy for us indie writers (come to us oh disillusioned customers, we’ll treat you right).

For more rambling on the subject, I wrote a blog post on pricing a while back: http://www.inforty.com/writingmattbone/?p=113

I raised the price on my book to $4.99 before a free day, because I wanted to see if a higher price point made it a more appealing free day download. I’d say it did — I got by far the most free downloads on that day, over 12,000. I’m not going to do the math to figure this out for sure, but I think I’ve also sold more copies at that price than at either of the other two I’ve tried (3.50 and 3.99).

Despite that, my book is currently priced at 3.99, mostly because that’s the price that I, as a reader, would be happy to have paid for it. As a reader, I avoid .99 books (too many that are only worth that, in my experience, and my time is worth something, too), will buy at 3-5, am cautious at 6-8, and will only buy higher than that if I know the author or have some reason (ie, a friend recommendation) to believe that I’ll really enjoy the book. I think the most I’ve paid for a ebook was 14.99, but that was a book I wanted to read, by an author I like, at a time that I didn’t feel like waiting.

I’m a reader, a very stingy with my money reader. I only buy books if I know I want that book (EE4…). 90% of the books I download to my Kindle are from the Free bin. I’ve found some truly wonderful stuff in the free bin (EE being one of them) and some stuff that was so bad I couldn’t stand it. But, that is true for authors I know and love, for example, the last book in the Earth Children series. I completely regret buying and reading that book! That being said, I have paid for subsequent books from a series but unless that series is riveting, I’ll wait to see if it comes up free first. The closer the series book is to the 0.00 price point the more willing I am to buy that book right away.

Now, before anyone gets mad that I only buy free books, I am a person who feels authors (artists) should be paid. I frequently go to the artist’s website and if they have a donate button, I will pay for my books there. I have a weird thing about paying the middle man. If I found out that Amazon fees were the same as the percentage charged by PayPal then I’d be more inclined to just buy the book off Amazon and be done with it.

I feel it is important to mention that I don’t buy bound copies of books either unless it is from a “used books” store and I can get that book for under a buck.

I would say my price point is the old paperback price of 3.95 and anything more than that is too much in my eyes.

To get me to buy a book at all (besides a friends recommendation and even these need an incentive of some kind), there has to be a give-away free book before I’ll buy any others.

On the contrary, I find it reassuring there’s readers such as yourself willing to try out so many free novels. Even if you never spend a cent on a book (though it sounds like you do as well, anyway), just passing on word of mouth recommendations for the good books can be invaluable for authors. Every bit of momentum helps future sales.

As an author and a reader, I echo many of the comments above. In my opinion, .99 undervalues the work of the author and sends a bad message to readers. On the other hand, I’ve found myself sampling works by authors I don’t know and in genres that aren’t my normal choice because it’s not costing me much to do it. I priced my memoir at 9.99 when I first brought it out as an ebook but recently changed to 3.99. Sales are strong at that price point. It’s all an experiment to me.

I was a new author and priced my first book at 5.99….bad idea. I think I sold like three copies that month. Then I read a blog that suggested us new authors should price at .99. Then the thing took off!!! Almost 2,000 sales in a month was crazy to me. After that I came out with serialized books that spun off of the first and priced them at 2.99 and 3.99 that earned me a pretty comfortable living. Since I priced the first book for FREE it has propelled my sales of my print versions as well with 10,000 free downloads a month on Amazon alone.

Something else authors might want to consider is to look at the pricing in your sub cats and look at what the median prices are. I have a book on the higher end priced at 3.99; but it is hanging tough and get me as much profit as the 2.99 book even though it sells less copies. All in all it’s your competition and how you want to live. But, if you only have one book out….be patient.

As a reader, part of why I’m looking at indie authors is that the Big Six have been setting the prices too high in a panicked response to how the market is changing with regards to e-books. It’s not that I can’t afford the paperback list price, so to speak, but when you have no overhead in terms of printing and distributing the book to stores, then where’s that extra money going? It’s certainly not going into the author’s pockets, from what I understand. So, for me it’s simple – lack of overhead means that the price of the book should drop, since what I’m paying for is a file that can be formatted once and uploaded rather than the printing and binding and distribution.

In terms of specific pricing, I think that .99-3.00 is fair for an e-book, but the market will bear more than that, simply because people believe that a book SHOULD cost more. I start getting a little hesitant at anything above the $2.99 mark unless I’m certain that the book is going to be something I will enjoy. For example, if the first Emperor’s Edge book had not been priced free at the time that I bought it, I wouldn’t’ have picked up the series. I think says more about the strategy of loss leaders than it does about general pricing.

That being said, I have paid 9.99 for an e-book before, when it comes to specific authors that I want to support. Jim Butcher and his latest Harry Dresden book come to mind, partially because the publisher was resisting making the e-book at all and Butcher had to fight with them over it. I thought the price was too high, but I’m invested in the series. So you can never underestimate the emotionalism that can go into a purchase decision, if you’ve built up a fan base that trusts that your next book will deliver on their enjoyment factor and are invested in you as an author rather than just picking up a book that looks interesting.

And that’s my two cents worth!

I’ll take a crack at a new author I don’t really know about if they have a free book available. If I like them, I’ll gladly pay for their other books.

I’m shocked when I see some of the traditional ebook prices, especially when they are higher than the cost of the mass market paperback of the same book! It makes no sense to me to pay that much for something virtual that has little to no manufacturing cost.

If the author is someone I’m a big fan of, I would probably pay up to $9.99. If it’s someone I’m fairly interested in, I’m more comfortable in the $5 range. Basically, the more risk involved, the less I’m willing to pay.

Right now, I price my short stories at $0.99 and my novels at $2.99-3.99, but I might experiment with that a bit.

As a reader, $2.99 to $4.99 is my preferred price range for a novel in eBook form, though I am willing to go higher. I have gone over the $9.99 mark I think three times in three and a half years, for books that I really wanted to read which were still in hard cover. But I thought hard and long about each of those.

I do think that the traditional publishers are pricing too high, but that’s their choice.

As prospective indie author, I’d looking at pricing novel length books at $3.99 and 4.99. I haven’t settled on a price yet for the episodes of my upcoming Weed serial–the first one will be free, the others may be priced at $1.99 (meaning a lower royalty of course) with the omnibus edition perhaps $5.99, since it has six episodes in one. We’ll see :-)

As a reader, the price I’m willing to pay depends a lot on the situation.

I do a lot of reading, so I like reading free and up to 2.99 stories to just try out new authors that I never heard of. If the description and first chapter grab me and the reviews aren’t awful, or if it had a really interesting writeup in a book blog, or if it has no reviews yet, but the author has written other things that were well received, then I’ll get it. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes not, but the cheaper it is, the more likely I am to experiment.

Between $3 and $5, I am looking for a bit more assurance. In addition to a description and first chapter that grab me, I want a recommendation from someone or really dependable review that analyzes the book a bit or an author that I’ve enjoyed in the past.

Above $5, I have to really want to book. I generally delay buying it for a couple weeks to see how badly I want it. For most books, if it’s $7.99, and I don’t buy it when it first piques my interest, then usually I’ll have forgotten about it a couple weeks later and won’t miss not purchasing it. Other books will distract me.

I am willing to pay up to $10 for fiction books immediately only if its a book that I’m anticipating by an author who is consistently wonderful and for whom I feel loyalty. For example, I’ve read everything Ilona Andrews has written and I’ve loved it all, plus they post snippets and free stories on their frequently updated blog. I don’t mind paying extra to support them, because they give me so much for free. I’m looking for ways to pay them more money in order to encourage them to write more. I don’t put that many authors in that category.

I’ve already decided to start my novels at $2.99 as they come out and like yourself, have a slightly higher price for sequels in the series. I’ll never go above any price I wouldn’t pay myself, which at this time is $5.99 for a full length novel. Any higher, and I really prefer to have a paper copy in hand and I’ll order it that way. Then pass it off to friends when I’m done. For those Omnibus collections I would consider paying more, but I’ll research the individual books first to determine how good a deal it is. I’m a but of a penny pincher when it comes to books because there really are limitless options. I don’t usually care how popular the book is, if it’s beyond my price limit, I pass on it. (I only read the first Hunger Games because I didn’t want to pay the inflated prices for the sequels which at the last time I looked were around $7.99 for ebooks.)

I almost never buy $0.99 books unless they’re short stories. I read very quickly and I read alot (for fun and to review on my blog), so if I’m trying out an author, I really like there to be a free book (even if it’s just a short story) out there. I usually dump 10-15 free books on my Kindle and just read them one after another.

If I find someone I like, I’m generally willing to pay up to $5 for a full length book – $6-8 for an author I really enjoy. (That’s how I found the Emperor’s Edge books – one excellent free story ended up costing me the three more books (so far) plus two short stories plus Encrypted!)

I would buy a $2.99 novel for an author I didn’t know if it was very highly rated or if it was recommended to me by a friend, but probably wouldn’t spend more than that if it wasn’t an author I knew.

One thing that I will NOT do is spend $7-$12 for an e-book version of a book that’s been out for decades and the author is no longer alive. Seriously – the publishing company just has to convert it into digital format and then it’s a cash cow from then on out. If I can buy a used copy for $2, I’ll do that instead.

Hi,

I’m a reader and unfortunately from a reader’s point of view live in Australia where paperback novels are a huge bargain at $15 and far more often are about $22 (taxes). Furthermore in a non-capitol city we can be 6 months to a year behind with ‘new’ books making it to our bookshelves where the book has been published by American imprints.

As a result if there is an author I love from one of the big 6 whose new book is heftily priced $10-$12 I will occasionally buy it.

For an author I have never tried if I like the sound of their work and like the reviews I am happy to give them a go at $0 – 4. The most I have been willing to spend on an author I haven’t previously tried is $6.50.

I find it really unfair when an indie author tries to say that their 20 000 word novella is worth $3 or $4 dollars.

As a reader, I’ll pay whatever the cost is for what I want to read, within reason. I prefer ebook format now that I have an iPad, so I really don’t care what the print version costs anymore. I used to. Ebooks are the superior format to me. I may be unusual in that regard.

That said, I don’t like paying over $9.99 for fiction, and won’t unless it’s for my book club, or $14.99 for certain types of non-fiction that I know don’t have the volume to justify lower pricing, or they require a lot of research and preparation.

If I suspect I’ll like it or have read the author before, I’d rather pay more if it’s an indie work because I know the author is getting most of the money, but that’s because I’m a writer.

Since a mass market paperback costs about $7.99 (US) new, sometimes $8.99, I don’t think e-novels should be priced higher than $6.99. Though as a reader, I generally only pay $5+ for an author I already know I’ll enjoy, or someone I know online and want to support.

Reference and resource books, if it’s an author I trust and a topic I really want (and something I know I’ll get a lot of use out of), my usual cap is $9.99, though I’ve been known to drop more for something I really want, but only if it’s someone like a blogger who I want to show appreciation for.

We all know ebook pricing is in a state of flux. The first indie authors out there played the loss-leader game of attracting skeptical readers by giving books away or pricing them at 99c. And it worked for many of them, especially those that had a good enough story to sustain reader interest.

Readers are still riding that bandwagon, but many of them seem to be more discriminating now, and willing to pay more for a quality ebook. By “quality” I mean a book that has been through the same kind of process that the traditional publishers put it through.

I think this trend will continue and that the pricing will settle in at the 2.99-9.99 range for most any of the “quality” ebooks. Yes, there will still be freebies, and 99c books, and there will still be the high-end books holding out for the 12.99 or even 15.00 range, but I don’t think that will last.

I find it amazing that more readers don’t take advantage of the sample that is available in all ebooks. Quite often, after reading a sample, I decide not to buy the book, but I have found few disappointments, after reading an entire sample, IF I elected to purchase it afterwards.

Regardless of how this shakes out, these kind of discussions are great for the business.

I’m planning on producing a novella that’s around 35,000 words this summer. I intend to sell it at $1.99 or $2.99 since it’s not really far from a basic YA-sized novel (I hear they start at 45,000 words but I could be wrong). However, any future novels I plan on selling won’t be above $4.99 unless they’re like, I don’t know, 100k+ in length. Then maybe $5.99, but never more than that.

As a reader, $5.99 is where I draw the line. $6 for an ebook is nearly as much as a basic paperback (which are usually $7-10 after taxes and such). It seems most of the commenters on your blog like the $4.99 price point as the line between sale or no sale.

Though, I have to admit I’ve been splurging on Pixel of Ink’s free book deals lately. Since monies are hard to come by currently, they help me get some good reads for free. And, in the future, I will pay for books by that author if I enjoyed the freebie. I’m cool that way. 😀

There’s such a big difference between $1.99 and $2.99. Namely, $.70 profit or $2.10. It’s a $1 difference for the reader but $1.40 to you!

We priced Pepper Thorn’s 28,000 word middle grade book at $2.99 and it sells. We just moved it up to $3.99 and that didn’t change the number of sales.

I would say between £2 and £5 (or dollars – I think it’s numerical value that’s important more than the actual currency in some ways). £5 is my own “trivial amount” point for book buying – that is, if a book is priced below £5 and I want it, I will buy it without stopping to consider whether I can afford it (this adds up, of course! But there’s definitely a psychological effect of “oh, this is trivial, I can just have it”). More than £5 and I do stop to think, which might put me off trying an unknown author.

I do find the 99p/99c price band off-putting. I subconsciously expect to get a flimsy, short novella for that price – or worse, a 3,000 word short story. I get an odd enjoyment out of finding books that are priced at 2.99 or 3.99 – some childhood part of me still thinks That’s What Books Cost, and has never really adjusted to 7.99 for a paperback.

However, one thing I have noticed in myself: if a book is priced below the £2 mark, and I like the look of it, there is a good chance I will just buy it instead of trying a sample – so even if I end up disliking it, the author will have made the sale.

I find that I balk at paying more than $5.00 for an eBook – and that price range tends to be reserved for authors I know and like reading. Newbies: not so much unless the sample shows they are something special.

I don’t necessarily agree with pricing all eBooks at 99 cents: an author has to sell ALOT of books at that price point to make any money. It may make readers happy, but in the end I think the authors work themselves to death trying to churn out new novels to feed the demand and fuel the bank account. Just my opinion – it seems to work for some.

I am a reader…and I read A LOT. It is not unusual for me to read four or more books per week (I recently went thru the Hunger Games trilogy in 4 days). Since I do read so many books, and I am on a limited income, price of a book is a huge factor to me.

I have a kindle, and I download free books that seem interesting to me, and that have received good reviews. This way if I don’t like the book or the author’s style, I have lost nothing. On the other hand, if I really enjoy the book, I will seek out other books by the same author and buy them, as long as the price is right.

For me the right price (so far), has been nothing over $4.99. Will I spend more than that? Maybe. But it would have to be an exceptional book to make me spend that much. I loved The Hunger Games trilogy, which I borrowed from my library, and I will probably break my $4.99 rule to buy them. But I haven’t done it yet.

I just discovered your books Lindsay, and in the past week have read your three Emperor’s Edge books, as well as the two short stories for this series, and just read your first Kali and Cedar adventure (which I started late yesterday afternoon and finished around 12:30 last night–I would have finished earlier but I couldn’t read straight thru b/c of little things like getting dinner ready, watching Glee and hanging out with my hubby til he went to bed).

Sorry about all the rambling…bottom line, for me…if you (any author) have written or are planning on writing a series, then the first one being free will hook me into buying the others (presuming I like the first). However the price of the others would have to be under $5, unless I truly found the book exceptional.

As I explained above, the amount of reading I do influences the price I can afford to pay. For those who do not read as many books as I do, or are not on a limited budget, higher prices would not be as much of a problem.

My husband calls me cheap when it comes to books. When we are out and about I stop and look at all the paperbacks I see, but won’t pay more than $9.99 for any. Looking at ebooks, there is no way I’ll pay more than $4.99. Of course, my limits may be based on the fact that I have approximately 200 books on hand to read and I really don’t need to buy any.

As a reader, I’m cheap. I rarely buy new paperbacks unless they’re on sale.

I won’t pay over $5 for an ebook either. But that’s me. I know others who said they’d gladly pay up to $10 for a sequel in a series they like.

As a writer, I think we need to keep our audience in mind, and whether we’re pricing ourselves out of the competition.

I’ve been waiting for EE4 to come out – thanks, Lindsay! $4.95? No problem. But I also agree the right price, right now is under $7 – anything over that, I would have to _really_ like the author in order to buy the book.

I found Lindsay though the Flash Gold series (yes, the free loss-leader), and liked it enough to buy the second book, and liked that enough to try the EE series. (Why Flash Gold first instead of EE1? The cover. *blush*) Yes, the cheap/free first book enables a new reader to try an author out, but the good writing is what sells the rest of the books. Too often an author will put their “bad” books out for a cheap price, and that since this is the first exposure a reader has to a particular author, they end up getting turned off on everything else that the author publishes.

I admit to being somewhat offended by some publishers ebook pricing – $12 for an e-book? $8 for paperback? $4 for used paperback? Guess what I’m going to buy.

And to those publishers who excuse pricing e-books high for a year as to not cannibalize hardback book sales and claim the e-book price will be lowered eventually? Well, as long as I’m waiting, I might as well put the book on my library hold list and get it for $0 sooner than a year. (This means you, Patricia Briggs – there’s so many other stories out there, I don’t need yours immediately).

Of course, I may not be a ‘normal’ reader – according the wonderful tracking widgets at GoodReads, I read at least 150 books per year. My biggest problem is trying to figure out what to read next – just like authors are trying to find readers, the readers are trying to sift through and find the good authors. Lower e-book prices mean I’m more willing to take a chance on unknown authors.

However, after encountering a lot of e-book dreck lately, I’m starting to think that e-book pricing signals are like wine prices – the price has no correlation to the quality.

From this avid reader’s point of view, I guess I can summarize things as:
1) keep your e-book under paperback prices.
2) consider lower teaser prices on series intro books, but be sure the quality is excellent, or the reader isn’t going to come back. Ever. (This means you, L.E. Modesitt)

I agree with Jonathan. I write for kids and have gone the whole hog–paperback POD at paperback prices (because not many kids yet have ereaders) and ebook prices at $2.99. This is a 95,000 word book–the first of a series. But I have also put out a 30,000 word novella for .99c as a teaser– if you like– and at one stage had it on Amazon for free (Now its KDP select).
Readers are difficult to gauge. Some think that a free book must be dross, others wouldn’t think of spending more that a couple of bucks for a download–with no physical thing to hold for your money. There isn’t a real comparison with music downloads, because you tend to listen again and again to a track–not so with a book.
And Jonathan’s last point is the absolute. Whatever you charge–make sure its quality or no one will come back for seconds–EVER.

I find myself very offended at e-books that cost the same or more than paper books. There are many like me- it’s a big gamble to do that.

Like others who grew up buying books at the 4.99 point, I am biased to that price point for what I consider “acceptable” for an ebook unless it’s an author I love love love (which normally means I will buy the paper book).

If your book is free-1.99 and the first book in the series, I am very interested if the reviews look good and the book appeals. I understand that this is a bid for me being a loyal reader and I appreciate the gesture and find it very tempting. Not only is it a great deal if I like the book, but I might automatically have more books to read as a result, meaning less time scavenging for my next book!

2.99 is a no brainer for following books in a series, I’ll buy it even if I was on the fence and want to see how the author develops. It’s also a very easy sell for a book that seems appealing and has multiple good (well written) reviews. It’s a fairly easy gamble for a less (but well) reviewed book that seems really appealing too.

4.99 is an easy choice for a series I already like. It is not prohibitive for a really appealing well-reviewed novel.

5.99 needs to be from an author I’ve already established I like or been strongly recommended by someone I know personally.

7.99-11.99 stings. I balk at it for an ebook. It will stop me from reading a second book of a series unless I was floored and your are now my new favorite author. I do realize this is the range of a movie ticket but a) I don’t go to the movies often and will prefer to wait on Netflix and b) it cost millions of dollars to make the movie and lots of money to run the theater.

I feel that it’s a good idea for the first ebook in a series to have a small discount (maybe $1 less?), but overall I think that the 2.99-4.99$ price point is about right (of course, the book’s length is also important).

I feel that ebooks over 9$ are overpriced, as you start getting into paperback price. This is even worse if the book has been out for years and one could get a MMPB or a used paperback for much less.
I mean, I just saw that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is $10.99 for the Kindle! I get that the movie is renewing interest in it, but the book’s been out there for over a decade!
If it’s expensive, I’ll wait until I can borrow it from a friend or get it from the library…

I self-publish and I’m not ashamed of it. Simply put, I like to be in the driver’s seat. I charge $2.99 for my books usually. I charged $1.99 for the first of a romance series and the 6th issue just came out at $3.99. That’s as High as I intend to go. As a reader, I don’t buy an ebook over $5. If I want it really bad, I buy the softbound version and pay no more than $17. I don’t believe in whatever the market will bear pricing. When I buy, it’s because I think it is a fair price. When I price my books, I do so at what I consider a fair price. I relate to the comment about not being able to pass the ebook on. I think that is a sad situation. If I buy a paperback, I can sell it in a yard sale or give it to a friend. So, with that in mind, I put my books on CD’s and sell them when I craft … for $3.50 (because I have to figure in the cost of the CD). If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a maverick.

Hey, I actually publish an e-book for community college students and it helps them save thousands of dollars by transferring to a top university so I price my e-book around the $25 range and it seems to be working pretty well for me. I’m interested to see what happens if I price it at $9. If the conversion rate triples, it might be worth it.

I will pay no more than 5.99 on an ebook with one exception and that is a series i am reading and even then the latest book is above my 7.99 threshold so I am waiting on it to come down before I buy it. If there were more options for selling and trading an ebook I would be more inclined to pay more but there are not many legal ways to do this and many of them that are out there are so convoluted it is not worth the time or effort. If I really want a book that is just out and it is more than 7.99 I will buy the hard cover if under 17.99. Any time an ebook is more than the paperback is ridiculous, also books that are in ebook format that are over 10 years old and selling at paper back prices is also ludicrous because I can get many of them used for $1.

If I’m trying out a new filmmaker, I’ll only watch their movie if it’s free or MAYBE, if I’m feeling generous, 99¢. If I like it, then I’m happy to pay $2.99 to watch their other movies.

Sarcasm, of course. I only want to point out how a way of thinking can seem reasonable in one area but absurd in another.

If you’re an author, pricing your first book low or free (especially if it’s the first in a series) is absolutely a strategy that can work.

But eBooks are a new market and readers are quickly being price-conditioned. So as soon as the majority of authors start saying “First one’s free [or cheap] and the rest are a bit more”, then that’s what becomes normal. And you’ll never get away from it.

Did movie theaters charge less for Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” than they did for “Pulp Fiction”, just because he was a new director?

Of course not – but if they had, now we’d be saying, “Why would any new director expect me to pay over $1 to see their first film? They’re unproven. Make the first one cheap or free, and then I’ll consider seeing the rest.”

And that’s dangerous. You work as hard on your first book as the later ones, if not harder. Hold the line, keep your prices fair, and everyone will benefit.

I agree with Jim. I had my book for free and got a bad review. Those who bought a paperback paid good amount and wrote a good review.

If every author stands up to their work then all the low priced crap will go away.

I have my short novel ‘The Time Ejector’ priced at 7.99 for e-book and 12.99 for paperback.

I tutor kids too and charge $20/hr. There are tutors who charge $10/hr. I stand with my price and I get top clients.

We all associate price with quality. I got myself a Maui Jim because it was the most expensive sunglasses that I could find. They may cost $10 to and make. There may be better ones out there but I have this psychological feeling that it must be great at the price of $350.

So, Indie authors wake up, stand up, price your books close to traditional publishers. This way readers will buy everyone’s stuff at a good price.

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