E-Books: Price and Value

E-book pricing has been a topic of debate for several years. Which price is best? What price is the customer willing and able to pay? What can the government and courts do? This can be confusing for authors and lead to confusion.

What can an independent author do when the big publishing companies, courts and online retailers continue to fight it out? While no one knows everything, common sense, some price experimentation, and some industry knowledge can help you decide the right price for your ebook. There is no one price that is right for every book.

These are some questions you should ask when setting the price of your e-book.

How valuable is your book?

Before you decide on the price, you need to know what your book is worth. You wrote a short, erotic novel to be able to compete with all the others. Its value will likely be low as it is not in high demand. If you are writing a thesis on a niche topic with no published book on it, the value of your work may be high even though your audience might be small. Is it possible to spend ten years researching and writing your book or just a few hours. Are your readers able to find the information in your book anywhere else?

An author once said that her one hundred-page history book was too expensive. She responded, “What do I think my book is worth after five years of writing it?” She clearly perceived her book’s worth as high. However, her readers may not view it as valuable because they see a small volume that is easy to read. Also consider the time your reader will spend reading it. Is it worth $9.99 to your reader to spend an hour reading a book? Your reader may value time more than money so he might not want to spend $9.99 on what he perceives as ten hours reading your book. He would rather pay $2.99.

You could be right if you believe your book is worth a higher price. However, your marketing efforts will have to convince your readers of this value.

How much can you charge for an e-book?

Your e-book should never be priced above $9.99 Although some major publishers may allow for higher prices for authors with best-selling books, $9.99 is the maximum price for most people. Amazon determined that $9.99 was the threshold for higher royalties. Amazon will pay 70 percent on books priced between $9.99 and $2.99, while those priced over $9.99 will only receive a 35 percent royalty. This means that a $15.00 book will net you about $5.00, while a $9.99 book will make you $7.00. While I can’t address every e-book retailer pricing model, you can look at each one individually. However, $9.99 is the best price.

Pricing high has the advantage of making more money per book. However, it will also mean you sell less books. Nevertheless, books priced lower might be perceived as having less value, being from unknown authors, poorly written or simply shorter. Anything below $2.99 is a lower quality book for me. Even the author may not see its value.

An e-book price range of $3.00 to $6.99 is acceptable for established authors. This will likely not discourage most readers from purchasing your book. If you are selling a book that readers will value, price it between $7.00 and $9.99. You should either have the information value that is worth buying or be well-known author with thousands of readers.

How many books would you like to sell?

You will need to sell 10 e-books if your book is priced at $0.99. The lower price might make your book more attractive than if it were priced at $9.99. You can sell 10 books for $0.99. Wouldn’t that be better? This means you have 10 more readers who will read your books in the future, so you can price them higher.

What is the price of competition?

Check out other books in the same genre. What are the prices of other romance authors if you’re a new author? Your e-book can be priced higher if your first business book is well-received in the industry. Your price should be at least slightly less than that of other books in the same or similar genres. If Lady Jane Grey is featured in two books, one is less expensive than the other, the likelihood is that yours will be purchased.

Where can your readers buy their books?

Although I doubt that many e-book sellers are spending their time comparing the price of your e book at different online stores, it is important to keep the prices the same across all sites. However, just because your book appears on Amazon does not mean it will be purchased there by your readers. You should sell your book at other sites such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google Play, which are all popular places for people who use Android phones and tablets. Do you sell to twenty-year-olds who are likely to purchase at Google Play, or to seniors who may prefer Amazon because it is more familiar? Price your book accordingly to ensure it is available at all locations. A twenty-year-old college student may have little money, so $0.99 might be a better option. However, most e-book sellers will require you to price your book the same at all of their stores.

Are you able to have multiple books, especially a series?

Pricing one book lower if you have multiple books. You might give away the first book of a series if you have written it. If the book is compelling, readers will be more likely to buy the rest of your series. If you have written several books, but not a series of books, I suggest pricing the one you consider the best. This is because people will be most likely to read it again.

Would you consider serializing your book or selling it in chapters?

Books, especially novels, have been serialized for centuries. Recently, however, authors are selling their books in chapters or shorter installments. If you have a shorter book, up to fifty pages, that works well as a standalone piece, then price it at $1.99 and continue the series at the same or slightly higher price. If the reader likes the first book, he will likely buy four at that price. However, if he doesn’t like it, he might buy another for $7.96. You’ll still make $7.96 if they end up buying all four.

Are you a pro at marketing your book

Marketing is key to achieving your bottom line. No matter how high your book’s price, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will read it. It’s possible for someone to stumble across it in an online bookstore and purchase it. However, if you really market it, you will sell more books. Marketing skills will help you promote your book as being valuable and entertaining. Then, perhaps, you can price it higher due to that perceived value. If you don’t have the time or desire to market your book, price it low to offset any marketing effort.