Wednesday, December 28, 2011

E-book Pricing

GigaOm wonders if publishers are missing the point on e-book prices. Lately, I’ve seen lots of people asking the same thing.

Publishers signed a deal with Amazon that allowed Amazon to cut prices if they wanted to. But they signed a deal with Apple that allowed the publishers to control their e-book prices. So…while Amazon cuts prices and sells many copies … publishers keep the same books at a higher cost on Apple and sell fewer copies. Meanwhile, independent authors publish their own books and usually set their prices low when they can and sell more copies.

According to the GigaOm article, publishers “claim that consumers are actually willing to pay more for the e-book version of a novel because of the convenience and other features that they get with an electronic edition…”

And yet, in the same article, a reader said:
Q: It’s hard to justify the purchase of e-books that are priced at $10 to $15 when you can buy the real book on Amazon used for $2 or $3. EQ

And here’s another kick in the gut for publishers:
Q: … high prices for mainstream e-books could easily convince more readers to try self-published novels from authors using Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform — since many of them are priced at $5 or cheaper. EQ

Of course, you and I out here in the real world already know that independent authors of e-books are making serious headway into the top sales figures already.

What category are you in? Keep prices low for e-books? Keep them all high? Give authors more input into the pricing of their books when done via an agent or publisher? Should authors jump from the publisher’s ship and dive into the self-publishing Sea of E-books?


  1. I'm not jumping ship, but my publisher does keep my books priced reasonable.
    And I won't pay over ten bucks for an eBook - I don't care who the author is.

  2. I'm a bit confused by that article. It's my understanding that most (if not all) of the big publishers demanded the right to set their own price on Amazon. That's why you see so many disclaimers there of "price set by publisher."
    I think they're shooting themselves in the foot. Like Alex, I won't pay over $10 for an eBook, no matter who it is. There are too many terrific ones for less.

  3. If nothing else, the various prices are teaching readers to shop around for the best deal.

  4. yes $8-10 seems ridiculous for an ebook. As someone said, you can get a used copy instead, or go to the library.

  5. Hmm. I tend not to buy ebooks, but the ones that I do are cheaper than buying a real book. If the ebook has extra content like video embedded, I'd be willing to pay more.

  6. I prefer reading ebooks. If it is a book I really want to read and have to have, I will pay $10-$15 for an ebook, but it's very rare that I do so (maybe bought 2-3 that price this year). Most of the time I'm comfortable with the $6 or less for ebooks. If it's more than that, I'll see if the library has it in eformat or just wait to read it later or never read it.

  7. I agree that a resaonable price is required. But on the other end, I don't get the free or 99 cents prices. As a reader when I see that I think- "the book must not be good."

  8. Unless it's a book that I want to keep on my book shelf, I prefer to buy paperbacks. If I had an e-reader I would be looking for bargains. Most self published authors realize this and frequently have sales or sell their books at 99c and sometimes free. I think it's a great way to get your name out there.

  9. While I might, on the rare occasion, spend $17-$25 on a hardcover book, there is no I'd spend that on an ebook. I say that because I have seen some publishers who release some of their big authors to hardcover first and the ebook is either the same price or a couple of dollars less.

    As far as ebooks, I'm like the rest, I won't spend over $10 for an ebook. Most books, print or ebook, I spend $8 or less.

    I have read quite a few books from independent authors. Lower prices gives me the option of exploring those authors.

    I do like how some publishers periodically do ebook sales at $.99 to 1.99. Smart move, especially with other books in the author's line up. Picks up more readers. The price is inexpensive and there's a good chance they'll come back and buy other books by that author.

    As far as authors jumping ship to self publish...putting out a good book is hard work especially when you have to do all the work. But I have seen some smart authors under contract also self publish books.

    Thank you for an interesting article, Helen.


  10. And the war rages on...

    Big publishers are going to start pricing their books higher - and there will be many who don't pay those higher prices.

    I read a fascinating article yesterday about it all coming down to 'reader experience.' How the IPad lead the way with apps, giving people an interactive experience. It stated that this coming year would see big changes as books continued to grow in virtual form, fulfilling the needs of those with tablets.

  11. Most of my books are priced at 99 cents for the holidays and my sales have more than quadrupled, but I'm sure we'll see a sharp decline after the first of the year when they go back to $2.99 and higher. Which reminds me, my first ebooks in 1999 were priced at $29.98 and were on CDs. We've come a long way in 12 years.

    Getting one's name before the public and gaining new readers is very important now.

  12. What I'll pay depends on how much I want to read the book. I do like reading books on my iPad and I read a lot, so a low price will entice me.

  13. I won't pay the same for an ebook as I would for a print book. The overhead is so much lower for the digital a higher price only shows publishers' greed.


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