Pricing eBooks: Food for thought

I’ve been having a great ongoing conversation with my two best friends, one yet-to-be-published and one a NYT and USA Today best-selling author, about the shift in the publishing world that is happening.  Yes, I’m talking about the surge not only of ebooks, but of authors re-publishing their backlists themselves via the usual e-outlets, Amazon, B&N, etc., and the choice that is now viable for both traditionally published and not-yet-published authors – Independent e-publishing.

One facet of the conversation, not just between me and my friends, but between everyone involved in publishing and, perhaps more importantly, readers, is the pricing of e-books.  I regularly choose not to buy books I’d like to read because the Kindle price (my e-reader of choice) is equal to, or, amazingly, more than the price of the paper version.  This is not Amazon’s doing. It’s the publisher’s doing.  I regularly tag those books as too expensive because, well, I need to vent my frustration somewhere and that seems a relatively civil way to go about it.

Pamela Palmer, the said best-selling friend, sent me a link today to a great article on the pricing issue.  Now there’s math in this article that, frankly, I might have understood back in grad school when I was taking statistics but find incomprehensible today.  However, there are pretty graphs (I love a good visual aide!) so skim over the math if it bothers you, but do look at what this guy learns from his analysis.   In a nutshell, publishers are kidding themselves if they think they can’t lower e-book prices and still get a damn good return on a per book basis and sell more books.

Evil Genius Chronicles: Ebook Pricing vs Revenue

Seems I’m not the only one that thinks ebooks can be, and should be, priced lower than their dead tree counterparts. 

Your mileage may vary, but here’s my personal experience with this pricing issue:  Only one of my books had ever been released electronically by its NYC publisher.  In the last 6 months it was available from the publisher (roughly the second half of 2009) it sold 6 copies (down from 12 the previous royalty period), priced at $5.99, the same price as the paperback.  When I republished that book electronically, priced at $2.99, it sold 6 copies the first day and has gone on to a respectable 83 copies sold in December at Amazon alone.

Shameless self promotion: My backlist eBooks are all priced at $2.99. It’s working for me.

It’s becoming more and more clear that the traditional publishers are scrambling to keep up with the rapid changes in the book world.  Let’s hope they all figure out the pricing issues soon.  It will be a win-win-win for publishers, their authors, and readers if that happens!


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