The Issue of Pricing an Ebook

I read a recent article from Forbes who, after examining the Digital Book World list, noticed that three out of the five authors listed were self published. When they got down to the crux of it, the reason they gave was price. Now, I’m not referring to quality, editing, story, formatting and sheer brilliance here, because to be on any top bestseller list you have to have all of those things.  Yes, I know what you’re going to say: 50 Shades of Grey gave us mommy porn and not only that but a wonderfully paper thin story, unbelievable characters and two more books to follow. I admit that I have not read the book in its entirety but what I did read left me shaking my head, a lot, re-reading sections to make sure the author actually meant to say that and surfing over the words like they were waves constructed out of pointy rocks.

No, what I’m wondering about is if price matters and do self publishers have an advantage over traditionally published books in that area?

My book, Becoming Human, is priced no higher than €3.99. It has been doing really well and has a number of great reviews on Amazon. That’s what I feel the book is worth. Is it priced too high? I don’t think so. Besides, I’m running periodical promotions where I drop the price well below that, so it’s fair.

Here is the article from Forbes;

In 2011, of the $14 billion trade publishing industry, roughly $100 million of it was self-published books, according to data presented at Digital Book World 2012. Less than 1%. A drop in the bucket.

In 2013, the numbers should look quite different.

In the first four months of the year, we’ve had four weeks where a self-published title was a No. 1 ebook best-seller. Last week, both the Nos. 1 and 2 spots were self-published ebooks. This week’s best-seller list brings fresh challenges to the dominance of traditional publishers.

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Meet the Latest Self-Publishing Sensation, Rachel Van Dyken Jeremy Greenfield Jeremy Greenfield Contributor

While David Baldacci’s The Hit (Hachette) retook the No. 1 spot from self-published author H.M. Ward, five of the top ten best-selling ebooks this week were self-published. For those of you who weren’t math majors, that’s half. Six of the top-25 best-selling ebooks were self-published: 24%.

Full Forbes Article

Self publishers are coming! Lock away your valuables! They’re stealing money from hard working traditional publishers, blah blah blah.

It sounds all a bit dramatic to me.

Is it such a surprise that customers are taking more notice of well written books by self published authors, or is it that the high price of some traditional published books are making them think twice about hitting that purchase button? Possibly the latter, but I would like to think its a combination of both.

Take a traditional publishing company, Hachette, Bloomsbury, Simon and Schuster, or whoever the top dogs are at the moment, and look at what prices they’re pitching their author’s novels at on Amazon: 9.99, 10.99 and 12.99. And that’s just for the e-book. So why are traditional publishers charging this amount? Let’s assume they need to make back their production and marketing costs and the advanced royalty they pay their authors. Okay, that warrants a more expensive paperback book in my mind.

But if I charged that for my ebook, I would not make any sales, nor would I expect to. Even if I had twenty bestsellers to my name, I would struggle to justify a price like that for a digital book. Production costs aside, the important thing to remember is that it’s free to publish through Kindle Direct Publishing. So why are customers expected to pay such a high price for a traditionally produced digital book? Is it fair to expect the customer to pay for the luxury of having a branded publisher on the title?

What are your thoughts on paying high prices on e-books?

P.S. read this really funny review of 50 Shades of Grey. You’ll have tea coming out of your nose!

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