Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ebook survey: What would you pay?

I've read lots of opinions about how to price self-published ebooks. Some have said pricing at $9.99 suggests that it's a quality product and that charging only $0.99 suggests the opposite--that in fact the author doesn't value his or her own product very much. Try 4.99 or 2.99 or ... Yet others have said they think most people will risk a buck on anything.

So let's phrase the question differently, because I am about to publish a book and make it available on Kindle. Assuming you don't know my work but you are at least mildly intrigued by my book, a full-length murder mystery, what would you pay for a self-published ebook by an unknown author?

I'd appreciate your comments on this post. Again, tell me what you personally would do.

And thank you. This will help me a lot in pricing correctly.


Clive said...

I think it'd depend on how much I knew or could easily find out. Let's say there was a link to a good independent review. Or several reviews on Amazon, generally favourable. I think I would risk 2.99 not more.
If there were no reviews despite searching on Google . . . it would depend on the blurb, the book page (I mean the URL), and taking the book When Pigs Fly, I immediately notice that there is no such page as, credibility=zero due to that, and I wouldn't download it even if it were 99c. Maybe as a freebie but even then . . . it would need lookinside for sure.

Dani said...

It depends on whether I know the writer's work. I'd feel like I got a bargain at $2.99. At .99, I'd want to know the author's abilities before dropping even that small amount. If that makes sense.

Kristine Cayne said...

I don't buy a lot of e-books (I generally buy the print version if one is available). What's reasonable? That depends.

I've gotten free books when I was reading to get a feel for a particular publisher or line.

I've gotten $0.99 when they were discounted books from big-name authors.

I've paid up to $7.99 for YA books my kids wanted.

For a book from an unknown author that wasn't personally recommended to me, I'd want to pay about 2.99. If it came recommended, I might go up to 5.99.

Hope this helps!

Other Lisa said...

I go with, "It really depends on the book."

I've read some analyses that claim $1.99 is a better price point than 99 cents, especially on the Kindle platform.

Bob Sanchez said...

Clive, is taken, alas, or I'd have scooped it up. What do you think of a URL such as that directs to an Amazon store that shows all 3 of my titles?

By the way, WPF has 23 reviews on Amazon as well as some others.

Myra said...

I might buy the book, based on the title alone, if I happened to stumble upon it. If the reviews were good, I'd pay up to 4.99. Funny how we never say 5 bucks...

I'm usually looking for something specific, but I do occasionally check out the promotions.

Patricia L. Johnson said...

I have done some research on this as I plan to publish some ebooks. I have heard that other authors are not happy with an author charging 99 cents. If it is a novel as great as When Pigs Fly, definitely try the 4.99 or higher range. ~Pat

Rasana Atreya said...

I'd price it at at least $4.99. Otherwise it makes me wonder - is the author so desperate to be read (and doesn't have faith in their work) that s/he is throwing it away?

sagha said...

I agree with the 4.99 price point. I am a regular e-book buyer, and have no problem paying 9.99 for more extensively reviewed books. 4.99 sounds right for a writer just breaking in to the market, less than that and you bring down its perceived value. One often pays that much on an impulse buy at a magazine stand.

Is a free excerpt available? If I read an excerpt and like it, I'd be more willing to pay for the price that is asked for.

Sherry Gloag said...

Bob, if I didn't know the author but the title and cover pulled me in, I'd visit the author's website and blog next, to get 'a feel' for their writing style and content.
If I decided I didn't like them based on my visits, 0.99c wouldn't persuade me.
I'd suggest you go for the 'middle ground'. The indicates you - the author- value the content, and allows the buyer to do the same.
Best wishes with whatever decision you make.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd be willing to invest five bucks. And I won't go over ten for anyone.

G. E. said...

I second Sherry Gloag's opinion: 99-cents is counter-persuasive, I think, but after checking the author, a website, reviews, I would pay 2.99 or 4.99.

The problem I think with matching the prices of "a" publisher is that most people believe that an independently published book is on the market carrying lower overhead.

What an independent like you should strive for is repeated sales. If a person pays 2.99/4.99 for WPF and enjoys the read, you have a customer for the next book, and the next, and ...


Robin Spano said...

Personally, I don't buy books based on price. Since I bought my e-reader, all the books I've bought have been over $10, unless they were from self-published friends or acquaintances and the purchase was at least partially to support them.

BUT, I recently did an experiment using my own book as a guinea pig (my publisher dropped it to $1.99 for a week to see if sales increased), and from that, I think a lower price really does sell more books. (i.e., most purchasers are not like me.)

Still not sure what the sweet spot is. Great discussion you have going here.

Anonymous said...

I'm an avid Kindle user, so I can give you a couple of recent examples. The last book I ordered from an unknown author was a novel "The Hangman's Daughter." The author was a German writer and I paid $7.99 for the download. The writing wasn't spectacular but the storyline itself was interesting, a historical novel based on the author's family history, a line of executioners. Overall, I enjoyed the read. But here's the thing, I found the title because it was listed on Kindle's recommended list [new and noteworthy, I think they call it]. Not sure how you make it to that list but popping a title out for a reader, enticing him/her to make the leap is obviously important. This particular book was published through AmazonCrossing, a platform for translated works from writers all over the world. So, that was a definite plus for the book.

That being said, I was willing to pay $10 for Lorrie Moore's new novel, "The Gate at the Stairs." Moore is someone I'd read before and enjoyed. She also has considerable name recognition. What a disappointment! The book was dreadful. I literally had to plow through the last third of the book to reach the wretched, completely unsatisfying ending. So price and name recognition is no guarantee of a good read.

When it comes to lower priced items, Kindle now offers something called Kindle Singles. The texts are advertised in the 30,000-40,000 word range: novellas, essay collections, chap books [I think]. I haven't tried any of them yet but the prices seem to range in the $1.99-2.99 slot. And the authors? The only writer I've heard of in that grouping is Jodi Picoult. The other writers I'm unfamiliar with but the listing at the moment only runs 5 pages, so right now it's easy to browse by subject/title alone.

However, because I read a lot, I find the $7-10 range quite acceptable. It's still considerably less than I'd pay for a full-length print edition and frankly, I'm drowning in hardback books--every book case in my house is filled 2-3 deep and I have boxes of books in my basement. So, digital makes sense to me. Because I'm a writer myself, I don't expect to buy a book, a complete novel or creative nonfiction effort, for $1.00. If I wanted that I'd go to a second-hand shop.

Good luck with it, Bob!

Peg F [who is signing in because Google has permanently screwed up my membership account. I am forever anon!

virginia winters said...

Hi Bob; I buy ebooks for my Kobo reader, but won't go over 10$(Canadian) for one. I like to know whose books I'm reading, so I research the author before I buy. My own books are on Amazon and Write Words Inc. for 5.99 to 6.99 USD.

Virginia said...

I use a kindle. I associate the highest prices (above 9.99) with "best sellers," most of which aren't worth the price!! I'll pay 9.99 for anything I really want but am most likely to buy in the 6.99 to 8.63 (or whatever) range.

Good luck with your book!!


PS - I love mysteries.:-)

Bob Sanchez said...

Thanks for all the good comments. It looks as though $4.99 is a safe price, so $4.99 it will be.