Discounted E-Books: Cheap or Inexpensive?

So I just lowered the e-price of my novel on both Barnes & Noble and Amazon this week and am wondering if it was such a good idea. I’m not exactly second guessing myself, or am I? Not sure. I guess I am. Did I just defeat my own “logic”? Reminds me of the old line, “I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.”

Anyway, the issue I’m facing is one of ego. Personally, I think people should pay $100 per copy for my book because, after all, I wrote it, therefore it must be good, right? Worth every penny. But then I tapped into my inner capitalist and realize it’s a competitive market out there and I need to set my ego aside and price the book to actually sell. So I did. $3.99 per copy. That’s $6 off the original price and just about the same off my royalty.

The big question (well, okay, two questions) is: Does lowering the price that much cheapen the book in the truest definition of “cheap” or just make it less expensive so more readers can buy it? And then by extension, should I lower the paperback price, too? Or should I leave it along as are they totally separate items that have no bearing on one another? (Sorry, that was three questions. My train of thought just jumped the tracks.)

I’d like to hear from fellow authors and readers alike on your thoughts about this topic that I’m sure every author has tackled at one point or another.

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3 thoughts on “Discounted E-Books: Cheap or Inexpensive?

  1. I am more likely to try new authors at a reduced rate, than plunk down 16 bucks for a author I never heard. I figure, at 3-4 bucks for the ebook, I can discover 5-6 new up-and-coming authors, than spend the same amount for a book that I may end up not liking….

  2. It’s a very hard call — one I have wondered myself about. The goal of any new writer is to spread word about their book, yet we all influenced by the concept of “you get what you pay for.” I know many people who will not even consider 99 cents books, and others who will only buy those. There are several directories out there that feature books within a certain price range, and of course, it is extremely helpful if more people find out the book even exists, but the last thing you want to do is to give the impression that your book is “cheap” and thus, of low quality. It blows my mind to see titles that sell for $10 and rank high on bestsellers’ lists, and new authors struggle to sell books at $3 or $4. If you can figure out this enigma, I’m all ears….

  3. In a traditional publishing environment, prices are inflated on books initially to maximize profits and royalties. Over time, they drop, making for easier sales. (Costs of manufacture, promotion and distribution come in into play, all of which must be considered at the get-go.) At the end of the run, whatever stocks are left of the books are sold as overstocks, many times below printing costs to vacate warehouse floors. (Wal-Mart does this too for the same reason.) Simple principles of supply and demand, right?

    Electronic books, or eBooks for short, are a lot more arbitrary in pricing. What does it cost Amazon to store and sell your Kindle edition? Probably not more that a few cents a copy. If your eBook retails for $9.99 or less, they keep 30% of the sales price, so they can afford it. So, what are the marketing dynamics of pricing eBooks?

    As far as I can tell, it’s all guess-work on the part of the marketeers. They use some of the traditional methods, true. Others seem to be smoking wacky-weed when they set prices. I’m sure there was thinking behind it, but don’t ask me what it was.

    Wallstone uses the Print-On-Demand model for printed editions, and an arbitrary method for setting eBook prices. Right now, we’re using the Number of Pages (as in content pages created by the author, in book-pages, which doesn’t include anything we add to it) model that ranges from $3 for anything under 100 pages, to $9.99 for 450 pages or more. Later, we’ll probably change the standards to include graphics and author name value, but now, those don’t mean much to us.

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