Daily Update: The ebook pricing debate
It seems that every couple of months (sometimes monthly) a battle will rage about the pricing of ebooks. Because of the Department of Justice stepping in claiming that the Big 6 are doing bad things, price fixing, the agency model, and so many other terms, the internet is abuzz with information right now. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is claiming that people want cheaper ebooks. People want to spend less money on books than what the Big 6 is charging. I keep hearing all this noise.
I’m subscribed to a lot of blogs and have done enough reading to formulate an opinion. I’ve even given myself time to digest all of this information to be able to form a coherent thought about all of this. Being that I’ve bought books for a good majority of my adult life (and enough of my teen life) I know enough about books and how much they cost. Do you want to know what I think about all of this?
People will pay what they’re going to pay.
It really is that simple. It doesn’t matter if an ebook is $14.99 or if it’s .99. It really doesn’t matter. People will pay what they’re going to pay. Let me explain
I’ve bought a lot of books. Boxes and boxes of books. I love to read. There are some authors (like Tad Williams) that I will buy the hardcover as soon as it is out and devour it. I’ve paid as much as $29.99 for a hard cover novel. It never bothered me. Other authors, let’s just take Piers Anthony as an example, I’ll pick up his books in trade paper back. The most I’ve paid for a Piers Anthony novel is around $6.99 or $7.99. The point is, the price isn’t what got me to make the purchase. The author is what got me to make the purchase.
But that’s physical books. Perhaps I’ve put more worth on having a physical copy, right? Well, let’s look at my buying as of late.
I’ve picked up a lot of free ebooks. I’ve read a couple. They’re alright. I’ve picked up a large number of .99 books. I’ve read a few. They’re also alright. I haven’t picked up a stinker of a .99 book yet because I’m picky. I’ve picked up a few stinker free ebooks and I can see why the person is giving them away. These make up less than half of what’s on my ereader at the moment. Most of what’s on my ereader? Samples and books over $4.99.
That’s right. I only have a few books in the $2.99 – $4.99 range. Why? I really like the authors and I wanted to get their novels. I will always buy a Stephen King novel. I love his writing even if Under the Dome left me underwhelmed with the ending. I still loved the characters, the incidents, the mystery. The ending just sucked but I still got my money’s worth. I’ve picked up 11.22.63 and the Wind Through the Keyhole. It doesn’t matter what the price it. I’ve got a few Mike Stackpole novels on there as well. Again, I’ll buy whatever he produces because I really enjoy his style of writing.
But let’s look at the samples. Do I only pick big 6 books? NO! I’ve got a lot of Nightshade books (bought some of them outright), I’ve got Apex books, Edge/Tesseracts, Pyr, and I do also have some Big 6 books. The publisher isn’t what’s driven me to purchase the books. It’s the author being out there, talking about their book. It’s me getting to know the person that wrote the novel, looking at the first few chapters in the sample and I’ll buy a copy. I’ve got Skalzi’s Redshirts on my reader. Fun stuff. I’ll be buying the book when it comes out. Doesn’t matter what the price is. I know I want to read this book. I’ve done this with many authors.
Beyond that, I’ve got Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds also. Why? I’ve read his blog. I enjoy his writing style. I will pick up the next book I know even though I haven’t read the first. It didn’t matter what the price was. I wanted the book, I bought it.
You may think, “Well you must have a lot of extra money to buy all these books.” Not really. I don’t spend as much on books as you might think. I’ve gotten some book that I was waiting on when they were suddenly free on the Kindle. I’ve won a couple in giveaways. Some were dropped to .99 and I couldn’t pass up on that deal. I’ve even gotten a couple free because I blog and every once in a while I’ll do a book review. Give me a free book, I’ll review it. It’s the least I can do.
But my point is I’ve only a few times in my life cringed at book prices. You want to charge me $21.99 for an ebook? That’s pushing the limit a little too far. Unless it’s an omnibus with three or four novels. Then I’ll pick it up. I bought the Stieg Larsson books for $29.99. Why not. That’s three books. They’re getting great reviews. They seem to be worth the price. I’ve also picked up a trilogy for $2.99 because the premise sounded interesting.
I’ve bought books from people I follow on twitter. Why? They seems like interesting people and I like to support interesting people.I’ve got a few Scott Roche books on my ereader and I do need to get through them and review them. Same with Justin Macumber and Zoe Winters.
So where do I think books should be priced? Well, I think that depends. If you’re an indie author who’s got one or two books out, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick them up for .99. If you’ve got several books out then I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at $2.99 as I would think you’ve got more books out, you’re good at this writing thing. If you’re doing this for a living and making money and you’ve got a proven track record, I’d be more than happy to pay $5.99 and up for one of your works.
My point is it’s not the price that’s important or at stake here. It’s the author. Price for me depends on how established you are. Do I like what you’re doing and I’ll be willing to pay $12.99 or more for your new novel (like the next Wheel of Time book) or are you a brand new author who I’m willing to take a chance on? It’s not a hard and fast rule. You can’t put a line in the sand and say “No one will ever pay more than this” because you’ll be wrong. Sales figures prove that. Look at the Amazon top 100 and you’ll see prices all over the map. It’s something personal and something that each author needs to figure out for themselves. Just because J.A Konrath says “$2.99 is the golden price point for a book.” Doesn’t make it true. It only makes it true for him. It makes it true for people who’ve set their price at that level and had success.
What are your thoughts on ebook pricing? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
Tomorrow I’ll write about ducks