To sell eBooks at $2.99 or to sell them for much more: That is the question.
I recently put eBook versions of my first two inspirational titles, Awakening Mercy and Abiding Hope, on sale at Amazon.com and BN.com for $2.99 each. I admit that my original sale price was $4.99, which I think is the right price point for the books. I plan to move them to that price point in January, after the holidays.
So why did I change the price from $4.99 to $2.99 in less than a day? One reason is that it’s pretty easy to change prices on both sites so it wasn’t a lot of work. That is a minor reason though. The major reasons were: 1) I wanted to give a gift to readers who had purchased print versions of the titles; and 2) I want people to buy the books who might not purchase them at a higher price point.
$2.99 as a gift to readers who purchased the print versions of Awakening Mercy and Abiding Mercy.
I think many readers are transitioning their print libraries to e-libraries and the lower price point makes the decision to re-purchase a lot easier. I’m doing this myself. For example, I recently re-purchased Robin Hardy’s Streiker Saga and her Sammy Series, a total of 14 ebooks, for less than $42. I’m pretty sure had those books been priced at $4.99 I would not have purchased them all, not at one time. I’m not sure I would have purchased any because I really wanted them all. So the $2.99 price point is for readers who want to re-purchase my books the way I re-purchased Robin Hardy’s.
$2.99 to attract readers who may not purchase at a higher price point.
After getting a contract to write my first inspirational fiction titles back in 2000, I began to think differently about my books. I wanted people to read them because I thought they would be encouraged by them, that God would use the books to meet some need in their lives. At one point, I began to wonder why in the Christian publishing world we used what seemed to be the same rubric for pricing titles as they did in the secular publishing world. Nobody was asking the question (at least they weren’t asking me), what is the lowest price we can put on this book to make it accessible to people who might be blessed by it? When I say nobody, I have to include myself. I wasn’t telling the publisher to give me less of an advance so we could price the book lower. When given the chance to price the books myself, I owed it to myself and to potential readers in need of a blessing to go lower.
So why even think about raising the price to $4.99?
Because there is another group of people that I want to reach: those people who think higher-priced means better. Just as the lower price point will entice some readers to buy my book, it will turn others away. Some readers think that a lower price on a book means the book is of lower quality so I’ll need to separate my books from the lower priced books to reach those readers. $4.99 is as high as I plan to go with fiction at this point. It’s a good middle ground.
That’s my story on pricing and I’m sticking to it. What are you thoughts? I’d love to hear from both readers and writers.
6 thoughts on “Am I selling myself and my eBooks too cheap?”
I think that it is a good idea to offer the discounted $2.29 rate for the set of books, but not individually. For me, personally, I think that for those who can afford electronic readers, they can afford a higher price ($4.99) for individual books. I think that when authors offer e-books for dirt-cheap prices, they de-value themselves, and the book industry.
Digital book sales currently only count for 9% of the book market, yet so many people funeralize (is that even a word?) printed books. As a bookstore, we currently do not offer e-books as part of our inventory, yet sales continue to climb.
It was great meeting you at the 2010 Faith & Fiction Retreat in Atlanta. Have a great day!!! :- )
I believe 4.99 is a fair price for an ebook; however 2.99 is a good price for books that have been previously released. Your current readers will have no problem buying the book again because they won’t feel like their being charged a higher price for something they already have. New readers think it’s a fair price to try someone new.
As a reader I have a problem paying the same price as the book when it’s an ebook. There should be some type of discount since I’m not getting a hard copy. I feel like you’re trying to force me to choose the hard copy. As a reader who collects books, I don’t have to be forced to choose. If I want your book, I’ll buy the hard copy and the ebook because I want them both in my collection.
Remember Ebooks are about instant gratification, if I can get two books for 2.99 vs one book for 4.99. Which do you think I’ll buy?
Don’t overprice your book, thinking we the readers don’t respect your work. We do, but in this time of tight pocketbooks, the ebook reader will go for the less one first.
I like your strategy. I haven’t begun to buy books to replace my print library but yes, I plan to do so after I buy a tablet. Right now I only have my phone as my e-reader.
Ebook pricing is so dicey. Some people don’t want to pay anything above $0.99 but that’s not realistic. I agree with LaShaunda. $2.99 seems like a good price for a previously released title. When you have a new title, you might even consider dropping the price to $0.99 on one</i to attract new readers to your body of work. That strategy seems to work also.
What I won’t do is pay $9.99 or higher for an ebook. No one can explain the economics to me in a way that makes that make sense when I don’t come away with a physical book that I can hold, share, etc.
LaShaunda, I’d never thought about this readers wanting to be compensated for not getting a hard copy. Very interesting perspective. I’m glad not to be bothered with the hard copy.
Patricia, Steve Laube tries to explain why the price differential in print and ebooks is not as large as people expect. Let me know what you think.
Ellis, congrats on the success of your store. Do you make a distinction between republished backlist and new titles in terms of pricing?
I price my backlist titles at $3.29 (up from the former $2.99). My original titles will be higher, depending on length, between $3.49 and $4.49. I will probably eventually get up to $4.99, but I’m not ready to do that yet. I think this is fair, that I’m not selling myself cheap but not over-charging, either (the eBook I just released is about 125,000 words). I’d also like to stay in the same general range as prices traditional publishers charge. I did the 99-cent thing for a bit with my first original title, but decided I was getting cheated and raised the price. Sales dropped, but that’s okay. I’m going to try the free thing with my next backlist title and see how that works.