eBook pricing has been in the news a lot lately, because the Department of Justice is investigating the Big 6 and Apple for price fixing.
Right now we have the Agency model where publishers get to set the prices for their eBooks and they’ve set them quite unrealistically to try to hold on to their print sales. First, one could easily argue that a high eBook price isn’t exactly going to drive a Kindle or Nook user to go buy the print version. It’s actually driving them to buy a less expensive eBooks. Which is good news for indie authors like us. For example, at one point in Men’s Adventure on Kindle, Steve Berry was #1, I was #2 and #3, then there there were two Clive Cussler titles, then I was #6. So 50% of the top six books in that genre were mine in that snapshot a little back. In War, I have 11 of the top 50, more than W.E.B. Griffin, one of the masters of that genre. I have two of the top ten science fiction sellers on both US and UK Kindle (Area 51 and Atlantis). I submit it’s not necessarily that my books are so great but also an issue of pricing. At $2.99 to $4.99 , I think my books look a lot more attractive than a $14.99 book from some trad author.
I’ve previously pointed out how pricing an eBook over $10 makes no sense financially. Frankly, I’m of the opinion that pricing an eBook over $5 isn’t that great and at Who Dares Wins Publishing we recently reduced prices on all our titles to under $5, including our nonfiction.
On the other end of the spectrum is the uproar over the .99 eBook. John Locke has made a lot of headlines for his savvy move of selling over one million eBooks, except all are priced at .99 except for his book about selling one million eBooks which is $4.99. I kind of love the logic there. But I’ve also pointed out that one million eBooks at .99 equals 166,000 eBooks at $2.99, which several indies, myself included, have achieved with much less fanfare.
The big cloud I’m seeing on the horizon is the growing awareness in NY that they need to revise the way they view the eBook. It’s not competition for their print sales, it’s part of their overall revenue stream. I predict we will see a lot more books from the Big 6 priced under $5 in the coming year. I think there will be more direct to eBook publishing, where the book might never even come out in print.
What does this mean? The playing field is going to level out. New York is going to get leaner and more efficient and embrace the eBook instead of viewing it as the enemy. Indie authors are going to have to work harder to keep their readers and also consider, if successful, what to do when NY or Amazon or whoever comes calling with offers.
The biggest thing all writers—trad, indie, hybrid—need to realize is that there is no one ‘right’ path to Oz. In fact, we’re all starting from different places, not necessarily all from Kansas, and Oz might even mean different things to each of us. To each their own, but the ones who succeed will be the ones who keep their options open and constantly educate themselves on the business and also are able to act decisively.
The bottom line is that you, the reader, will vote with your wallet.