Between the rise of self-publishing and the agency pricing settlement, the industry is struggling with how to price ebooks. Before the settlement, many self-published authors enjoyed the attention they received at the low end of the pricing scale. On the other hand, many traditionally published authors bemoaned the high prices their publishers set for their ebooks, which were often higher than the paperback price.
Now traditional publishers are experimenting with lower ebook prices and competing with self-published authors in the bargain bins. According to the Dear Author site:
“Digital BookWorld keeps track of the average price of a bestseller and at the end of August, the average price had reached an all time low of $6.33. According to a May report by Mark Coker at Smashwords, two of the most popular price points are 99c and $2.99.“
No one knows how prices will settle out. But one thing authors don’t talk about as much is how pricing strategies might change depending on their goals.
Does Price Affect Whether We Read a Book?
I have way more books than I’ll ever be able to read. My to-be-read pile of physical books has taken over one end of my desk, and my to-be-read pile of ebooks stands at 250+ and counting.
Yet I keep buying more books. Why? Well, obviously because I’m compulsive about buying books I want. *smile* But also because I keep finding new books that interest me.
However, just because a book interests me enough to buy it doesn’t mean I’ll drop everything and read it right away. By the time I get around to selecting the next book to read, it’s likely I’ve forgotten about books I picked up a couple of days previously.
So how do I decide which book to read next? I don’t have a system. I just skim through my list until one catches my eye.
Usually the things that catch my eye are the same things that justify me paying more for a book. Perhaps I know the author or have heard a recommendation or it’s been buzzed about online.
So in my case, I’m more likely to read the more expensive books. I had a reason for purchasing them, and that means I probably have a reason to read them.
I wonder, is that the norm? And if so, should that fact affect the choices we make when pricing our books?
One-Time Sale vs. Repeat Customers
Many authors price on the low end because they figure no one will be willing to try them if their books are too expensive. That’s a valid concern, especially for untested self-published authors who need reader momentum before they can prove themselves via reviews and buzz.
But does that lower price come with side effects? Maybe a lower price causes less interest, such as setting lower expectations. Or maybe a lower price merely reflects less interest, such as buying a book only if/when it’s cheap or on sale. Or maybe it’s a combination.
Regardless, if a lower price means less interest, millions of ebooks could be languishing on ereaders and might never be read. If those books are never read, those readers are less likely to purchase the author’s other books.
In other words, I wonder if there’s a sweet spot in pricing where readers are willing to buy an untested author and are more likely to read the story. To the polls!
Pricing Poll: Where Are Your Price Points?
I put together a few polls for us to compare notes. I’m asking people to share their thoughts on:
- Is there a price that’s too cheap, creating low expectations?
- Is there a price that’s more likely to lead only to a one-time sale?
- Is there a price that will create more interest in reading?
- Is there a price that applies only to books we expect to love, reflecting our interest?
- Is there a price that’s too expensive, no matter what?
(Note: Polls are now closed and the results are listed in this post about author income and ebook prices.)
How do you decide which book to read next? Do ebook prices affect whether you read a book? Do you think higher prices reflect or create higher interest (or a combination of both)? Should authors worry about whether their books are read? Or should they worry only about making that first sale?Pin It