Monday, November 7, 2011

How Much Should An eBook cost? Part #3

How Much Should An eBook cost? Part #3

Wow, this topic always brings out heated discussion and sometimes the guns come out, held sideways and the bloodbath begins. Good thing I am safe behind my laptop and not in a large room filled with authors and publishers.

eBook pricing, it is a big deal. China is fighting it now as they talk with Amazon about selling eBooks in their country. We know what the Big 6 think, keep em high as eBooks will one day replace print books and all their income goes the way of a Kindle.

"If you price your eBook low you say that you as an author or your writing is not worth anything but a cup of bad coffee."

As we talked about in the first post this is not true. Your worth as an author in the eBook world is what you make per month not per book sold. This is different in the print world as each book has to be printed, shipped sold and so on. So each sale must hold a value and in the big bookstores most all books are priced the same. Publishers do not have that control in eBook land. In print they can beat up the Indie all day lone with print pricing, but not in E. The tables have turned my friends.

"But if all the eBooks are priced low we will not make any money and it will ruin the book market."

Nope. This again is what "Publishers" say as yes it will ruin their market unless they adapt. itunes makes a ton of money, authors make a ton of money if they control their books. It is not bad for anyone except the big publishers. We also have looked at the way we all buy in the US. It is a low price high volume deal... we are always looking for the next best deal.

"The market will get overrun with .99 books and flood the system. How will we know what is a good book?"

Good question. The gatekeepers were the big publishers and they could only handle so many books a year and they missed a lot of great books as they are not a perfect system. The book market has always had more books in it on a to reader to sold ratio. About 1% of all books published ever really sell, so that has not changed it is just that now with the aid of social media we know if a book, movie, restaurant or play is good about twenty minutes after it comes out. The masses are so much faster about weeding out the junk so in a way we are amazing gatekeepers. We can spread something good or bad in seconds when in the past it could take a long time for a crappy book to get shut down.

"But if I price my book low the literary crowd will not think of me as a ligit author."

Hmmm... who cares? They buy a few books compared to how many the masses buy. Market to the people not a small group. I understand if you do a lot of speaking like Anthony Doerr. He make a great living speaking and holding classes and has a high priced eBook. Now do I think he could make a ton more at a lower price and reach more people? Yes... now for him I would go at about 5 bucks and maybe do a special month at 1.99, but I am not on his marketing team and he does really well as he build his name from the inside out. All the big names can get away with more, but some day it will not stand as the people decide that no matter who you are they will not pay over a set price. Just like coffee... we will pay so much.

Again, I want to say, find your sweet spot. The place where your book sells the most copies and you make the most money and reach the most people. If you have to give up some money to reach more fans, do it. It will pay off.

"But if I sell my eBook at a low price they will not pay more for my other books."

Not true. I have sold my books at .99-2.99 for a few years. My new book came out and I have it at 4.77 ant it is selling just as well as my 2.99 books. They like it and if it is in a series you have some play with price point. You build more value as they get to know your writing style and so on... if they love your work they will pay more and not feel like they are getting ripped off.

If you have more questions or think of a good reason to have a high priced eBook let me know in a comment and I will see if I can address it.


Author Aaron Patterson: Blog: The Worst Book Ever.


  1. For me I expect an ebook to be cheaper than a print because it less exspensive for the publisher to produce, and since I can only read Kindle on my PC, I am limited to where I read it. I prefer print, but if I can save money through Kindle I will. There are books I wouldn't have bought because lack of money. But when they are 99 cents to 3.99 that makes it a lot easier.

  2. Really digging these last few articles. I've been playing around with my prices a lot lately and can't seem to find my sweetspot. I sold a ton of books during the summer and all of a sudden it stopped so hopefully finding the right price will help.

  3. I agree with you. I found $2.99 was my sweet spot for the last year. I had a short story at $0.99 and the first novel of a series at $0.99, but the rest were $2.99.

    Now that I'm selling in the thousands and the third of the Sarah Roberts series was releasing I set the price at $3.99. In the first two weeks it was available it became my second bestseller of all my titles and it has maintained that status since. The only title still outselling it is the second book in the series.

    Part four will come out in March and it'll be $3.99. I've now learned that that is my sweet spot as my readership has grown.

    Great post. Thanks for addressing this issue.