A book is worth …

First, thank you for voicing your opinions by votes and comments.  But, once again, I failed to word my poll questions the best I could, so the voting results answer two questions and pose a couple of others.  Several of you said the price you’d pay for the debut novel depended on what you already knew about the book or the author. Fair enough.

The results for the print version poll surprised me most.  Ten of you said you’d pay up to $11.99 for a debut in trade paperback. I assume that would be for a novel you’d heard highly praised.  The next highest voted price was $5.99, with 5 votes. With four votes each, there was a four-way tie for $7.99, 9.99, or 10.99.

The votes for the ebook version were more scattered. In fact, they topped out at a three-way tie. With seven votes each, you said the most you would pay is $2.99, $4.99, or  $5.99. The next highest vote was four for $3.99. And yes, one person only voted for the ebook version, which, I presume, was their way of saying they wouldn’t buy the print at any price.

I suppose a good idea would have been to have a separate poll with the question:  Are you a writer? As a reader, I tend to look for a bargain. As a writer, I’m more sensitive to what I’m actually paying for—someone’s craft, someone’s hard work. Of course, the quality of the end product varies depending on the skill and effort put into it.  But do the prices set by indie authors reflect that? Probably not. Some authors with excellent work will undervalue it. Some with subpar work will overvalue it. I’m looking for my sweet spot.


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19 thoughts on “A book is worth …

  1. I didn’t get to your poll in time, I’m sorry! But I’d like to voice my opinion here based on what I found with CINDERS. I first priced CINDERS at $10 on Amazon for the print version and $4.99 for the ebook version. It sold really well at first, but those were all friends and family, of course. As time went by I lowered the print version to $8 on Amazon for the print version and $2.99 for the ebook version. It has sold steadily since I released it.

    Some authors start out WAY cheap, like $.99 for the ebook and then raise the price. I did a $.99 sale in November, and my sales spiked really high. Then I made the book $2.99 again and they have dropped.

    The thing you have to remember is you must charge in a range you’re comfortable with. Selling my book for $.99 permanently would only make me feel cheap about my work – like it wasn’t worth more. So I keep it at a higher price. If I were going to keep self-publishing, I would keep those prices, I think, for my novellas, but higher for novels. Through the distribution channel of CreateSpace, I make a freaking $.15 on a print book. That’s really ridiculous. It makes me want to go back up to the $10, but I’ll be taking the book out of print soon anyway, so it doesn’t matter much.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experience, Michelle. 🙂

      I’ve read a lot of blog posts in the last week about pricing and I came to the conclusion there is no one-size-fits-all pricing strategy. Like you, I think my novel is worth more than $.99, but I haven’t decided yet what my price will be.

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  2. Oh, I forgot to make it clear that I make more directly through Amazon, but if you sign up for their Distribution Channel service to sell the book through other outlets through them, you do make much less per copy. The money is split all over the place.

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  3. I honestly think you’re just going to have to try out different prices and see. Reading all these price posts on different blogs, it seems everyone has their own ideas (as you said).

    And it doesn’t matter if you switch the price around. You have control 🙂

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  4. I think the market is in so much flux, this is all so new, it has yet to settle out. I’m with you and others … I might consider 99 cents for a promo, but not as a regular price for a novel. I’m sticking with $2.99 for now. I think 2.99 is a bit too low, but it gives a decent profit and right now my focus is growing a readership.

    I arrived at that price because it seemed to be a somewhat accepted standard. I think $9.99 (or higher) is too much for an eBook. That price structure is based on the traditional publishing overhead that doesn’t seem to acknowledge that there’s no “per copy” cost (printing, shipping). As I said on your poll post, I think it’s somewhere between $3 and $7. I plan to experiment with pricing after I release my second novel.

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    1. Wouldn’t you say $2.99 became the standard only because that’s the lowest you can price a book and still get the best profit deal from Amazon?

      I suppose if you only buy ebooks, you’d pay the high prices for big name new releases, but I’m still fond of paper. The other day, I looked for a book on Amazon and found it for $10.49 in soft cover and $10.99 in ebook! What is the rationale there?

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      1. Yes, I do think Amazon’s structure is what drove the $2.99 “standard”. But I also view that as the low end of the eBook scale, so for a new novelist, it makes sense.

        I’ve seen the same thing from traditional publishers regarding e-pricing compared to soft and hard cover. I think that might have to do with Amazon discounting on print books that skews it so badly, but the other half is that $10.99 is too much for a book with essentially no per copy costs.

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    2. Sorry I missed the poll, just checking in now…

      Cathryn, I thought yours was too cheaply priced. I was surprised by it, but then I had never purchased an ebook before. I would pay more…just because I’m buying e doesn’t make it less real. At least that’s the way I see it.

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      1. I also like your view that eBooks are just as “real” — we’re buying the story and that’s the same. For the digital world, I think there are strong feelings about getting charged for something that’s close to free to re-produce.

        Mine is low, but it made sense for my debut. My pricing strategy will get rolled out when I have more novels (although also influenced by market changes!)

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  5. One thing I thought about, Linda, as I was reading this post is that in Canada we pay much more for books than in the US. When I look at the cost of a book that shows both American and Canadian I had hardly believe the difference. When I looked at your question everything appeared very low to the standards here. I didn’t think of that, did you? Will your book be available in Canada?

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    1. Is it equivalent, do you think, Laura? For instance, I believe I paid $10.99 for your book and that’s the equivalent (or a dollar more) of a full-price movie ticket here.

      Good question about the international availability of my novel. I assume it will be, but that’s something I’ll have to check.

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      1. I think now that the dollar value of our money is the same as the US and this has changed the book pricing. The last book I purchased that was published in the US was priced at $17.95 us $18.95 Canadian but a book I bought back several years ago sold for $13.95 US and was 19.95 Canadian. For years we were used to seeing this pricing difference and I assumed we paid more because of the difference in our dollar.

        You’re right, my book is selling for the same price on Amazon.com as it is on Amazon.ca, as a YA book. I know one debut author’s whose book is selling here for $19.99
        and since it is adult fiction that doesn’t seem over-priced to me. Seriously, I would expect to pay as much for yours. Why wouldn’t I? I’m excited to read it.

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