I had an interesting Twitter discussion this weekend that involved e-book pricing. It’s on my mind a lot really what with me having a new book coming out in May. I had five dollars set as the soft price in my mind based on a few things I read in this post. I felt (and still feel) that this is a fair price point for a book in the sixty-thousand word range.
There are a number of people who disagree with me though. Brand Gamblin (an author whose work I will pimp without fail) posted recently about his experiment in advertising and his decision to drop the price on Tumbler from $4.99 to $2.99. He points to JA Konrath’s ongoing experiments in e-book pricing as well as data from Evil Genius Dave Slusher’s graphs and charts as the reason for this decision. Brand has been well pleased by the results, the increase in sales more than making up for the decrease in profit. While Brand isn’t saying that there’s anything “magical” about $2.99 (the biggest thing driving that price point is that it’s the lowest you can charge through Amazon to make 70% profit) and that not every book should be priced at that point, he is saying that that’s
probably what I should charge.
Several people in my Twitter stream expressed a concern that I was letting a notion of what my book is “worth” in an artistic sense cloud my judgment in terms of the price I’m setting. They believe in me in some sense and in my work and want me to maximize my profits. I appreciate that concern and it doesn’t fall on deaf ears. I certainly want to make money on this deal and I want to both maximize the total profit and get this into the hands of the highest number of people possible. So I don’t have any high flung notions that my work is “worth” five bones. The notion of worth as Ed Talbot pointed out is philosophical and largely depends on how you’re measuring it.
So far a number of people have stepped onto the pre-sale band wagon, six to date, and gave me varying chunks of their hard earned dollars. Four have opted for the highest level of support, one at the ten dollar level and one at fifteen. To them, the idea and the reality of my work is “worth” the price that they paid. To say I am grateful is a wild understatement. I am also grateful to folks that have ponied up anywhere from $.99 to $1.99 for my offerings on Amazon and Smashwords. Their payments for my stories have meant far more to me than the coin I received. The accolades I’ve received from reviewers likewise made my day/week/month. That out of the way though, I need to look at this as a business man would. I’m not a business man at heart, but as Dan Sawyer’s often said to me (paraphrasing) authors/aritsts need to train themselves up that way.
I’ve read the threads on Kindleboards and I’ve looked on Amazon’s lists and the pricepoint that makes the most sense to me is the $2.99 one. I don’t have the researchers that publishers do, but there are a few things I know. I don’t have the following that Nathan Lowell does. People aren’t clamoring for this book. I’m a completely unknown author to 99.999% of the universe out there. So I need to make my prose as compelling as possible and price it reasonably. I won’t give it away (at least not in text form) since I think it is worth something and based on a number of things I’ve read, free e-books languish unread in their owners’ readers. I also don’t see charging less than $2.99 for it since, while it may increase sales (or it may not depending on who you listen to) I don’t think the subsequent cut in percentage will make it worth while.
The question of what to charge for the paperback version still looms large in my mind. I have the pre-sale levels set at five and ten for e-book and paperback versions respectively and I don’t see that I’ll lower those. That means if you’ve made the decision to support me already, you’ve likely paid more than you would have had you waited. And it may mean that if you were going to pre-order that you’ll wait til it’s out. I can’t fault you if you ask for a refund or if you wait until the launch. My hope is that you’ll support me anyway and that you’ll feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth at the “full price”.
As always, feel free to share your comments below and tip your servers well!