Recently, The Fussy Librarian conducted a survey in regards readers and ebooks. The Fussy Librarian was generous to post some initial data about what readers think are fair prices for a novel length ebooks.
Oftentimes, it’s difficult for authors to price their books. One one hand, authors want readers to download their books and read them. When the readers don’t bite, it can create a sense of desperation. Sometimes that desperation can drive authors to lower their prices to dirt cheap (and at times, free) in order to reduce the barriers of downloading their work. Other times, authors will base their prices on what other authors are doing or what others are telling them to do. In a way, it’s a bit of a scattered approach.
What I like about the survey The Fussy Librarian conduct is it takes some of the guess work out of it. Rather than relying on tidbits of information here and there, it’s going directly to the target market… the reader. What are readers willing to pay? And what do readers feel is a fair price?
I have to admit, when I first review the results, I was mildly annoyed. In fact, my husband (dear man puts up with so much), listened to my short rant about those who thought all ebooks should be free, and how I’d like to visit those folks’ place of work and receive free products and services. It made me think of the starving artist profession.
Then I had to realize… there are always those out there who expect a free ride, may not appreciate the effort (or even the cost to produce a piece of work), or think in a way I can even fathom. Rather than be irritated with a bunch of strangers, whom I don’t understand, I should focus on the positive results of the survey… the parts I feel really pertain to the type of readers I’m seeking…
Those Who See eBooks Worthy of Compensation
I found several items about the survey interesting. First, the mode (highest frequency) was the $3.99 price point. For the longest time, I’ve thought $2.99 would be the mark. However, my thoughts on that was based upon the royalty rates. For Amazon, the $2.99 price point is the lowest an author can sell a book, while still receiving 70% royalty. Anything below $2.99 and the authors are put in the 35% royalty category. Likewise, anything above $9.99 puts the author at 35% royalty. However, few self-published authors price above $9.99.
In a way, my $2.99 price point was my projecting on the readers what I thought they’d be willing to pay based upon the lowest it makes sense for an author to price an ebook.
The second item which caught my eye was the skewed results.
Approximately 55% of participants fell in the $2.99-4.99 price point. In fact, almost three quarter of those who answered the question believed $2.99 or more was a fair price for a novel. For me, that’s huge. I’m not saying my books are great or even worthy of the effort of downloading. However, to know that a large portion of readers value the work that authors put into a book (even at the $2.99-3.99 price point), feels me with hope.
It’s true eBooks are less expensive to produce than physical books. After all, you don’t have the printing, delivery, or even same storage costs. However, there are still cost-associated services which go into creating an eBook (writing, editing, formatting, illustrating, marketing, software, etc.). I’m going to go out on a limb and make the assumption that outside of the writing process, most authors would rather not deal with the rest of the book creation process. It’s work… and to be success (or even unsuccessful), it’s hard work.
So when I got over my initial disappointment with those who felt eBooks were unworthy of compensation, I was pretty happy to see majority of readers did not feel that way.
I definitely look forward to the future results The Fussy Librarian has in store for us!