As an Indie I struggle to gain new readers. I’m virtually unknown in the market, so I must use whatever tools are at my disposal to draw in new readers. Price is one of those few tools that help to do this.
The lower prices you see on my books are not because I don’t value my work. I’ve put in countless hours into each of those titles. Many of them spent 4-6 months being rewritten and revised, and that is before an editor looked at them. No, the low price is not measure of quality; it is there to attract readers who have never heard of me before. The market is flooded with thousands upon thousands of books by both traditionally and indie published authors. If my book is up next to another book in the same genre, the price “might” be the deciding factor for a customer. It’s for that reason alone that I’ve set many of my titles to $0.99. People are a little more willing to take a chance on you when the item they are purchasing is priced in their comfort zone. If they like the book, they’ll be more willing to try another, or maybe even suggest it to their friends.
There is a huge debate about the $0.99-$2.99 price point among indie’s, but that’s not what I want to talk about here.
Price in general is a big concern when making a purchase on anything, whether it is books or groceries. Let’s face it; the economy is not that great right now and people are holding tighter to their money.That plus the fact that we "indie authors" want to be more attractive to you the reader, is why we price our books so low.
So with that in mind, I have to wonder why traditional publishers have adopted a more expensive model for pricing their ebooks?
I’ve said it many times before, I’m a huge fan of Patricia Briggs. I adore her Mercy Thompson series. I had been eagerly awaiting the release of River Marked (book 6 in the series). Now that I finally have my Kindle too, I was even more excited because ebooks WERE generally priced better than print.
So today I had a few free moments and was browsing Amazon.com. I pulled up River Marked and to my horror, found that the ebook price was $12.99!!!
Oddly enough, the hardbound edition was only a few cents more at 13.86.
This makes no sense. And it will make no money from me either. I love the series. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about Patricia Briggs or her books. I’d been waiting for the next book to come out, and now that it is available I’m angry that the publisher has priced it so high. I’m not paying that price. Period.
Please don’t think I’m being cheap. I’d easily pay anywhere from $1-$6 for an ebook.
Ebooks themselves are cheaper to produce and do not require any form or printing or warehousing. By that reasoning alone they should be priced lower than the print versions. So why is it that major publishers are moving to a higher pricing model, putting the ebook titles at or above the cost of hardbound books?
The whole Agency model for ebooks makes no sense to me. It seems almost insulting to me as a reader to be forced to pay more for a product I know cost less to produce. For readers like me, who are unwilling to pay these high prices, sales are lost.
Now, maybe down the road when the paperback version is released at a more reasonable price, say $7.99, I’ll go ahead and buy it then, in print. Why then and why paper when I have an ereader at my disposal? Because the print version can get more use. I can legally lend it to my friends; I can put it on my shelf to re-read later. With a DRM protected ebook, the book in question becomes a one-time use commodity. I may read the book once and then not again for several months-years. With technology always changing who knows what ereading device I may have by the time I want to read the book again. DRM prevents me from storing it on my hard drive and uploading it to the next ereader I get in the future.
With thousands of ebooks out there at reasonable prices (remember I said I’d be willing to pay $1-$6 for an ebook) it makes no sense to spend more for the same type of product. It has no additional value, it has limited sharing/lending capabilities, with DRM it is limited to the current device I have today (but maybe not tomorrow), and it cost the publisher less overall to produce.
I hope (but seriously doubt) that the Big 6 will get their acts straight and consider their customers when pricing their books. However, on the flip side, their ridiculous pricing is helping to drive the indie self-publishing movement forward. Customers appreciate value and that will ultimately give our books a little more consideration.