The Fussy Librarian Reader eBook Survey

The Survey

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?

Mildly Annoyed

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.

Fussy Librarian Survey Graph

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!

0 thoughts on “The Fussy Librarian Reader eBook Survey

  1. Hello Reena nice to see you out there again…and this post is very interesting. I price my books at $3.99 (US) which seems to be about the middle. It doesn’t matter to me in a way – as you at least imply, I want to be read and if giving my books away would achieve that in bulk, I’d do it. But it won’t. There is just as much noise in the freebie market as there is in the priced one. And I reckon that a reader should appreciate what she or he reads and paying for it is an aspect of that, if a small one.

    And of course I’d like to make money at it. But it’s not the first thing. Not even the second or the third. It’s there though. $3.99 compares very favourably with hard copy which is often for a not especially fat novel $40. Yes, I don’t have to pay all the printing and other publishing costs, though there are costs, and recouping them is not so easy as some might imagine. Even so, it’s not much. By the wayI have abandoned Amazon as I have decided to support the little people at Smashwords.

    Hope you are well and happy.

  2. There is a lot of “noise,” though I doubt most authors think of their books as noise. 🙂 As I was writing the post, an encounter I had with one of the art instructors for the university where I work came to mind. I’d put out a feeler for having one or multiple of her art students paint a mural in our building. We (as in our office) had a budget in mind for the project. It was definitely on the low side. However, we also thought of it as a valuable student experience, which might rarely present itself, and allow the student to add a significant project to their portfolio. One of the things the art instructor mentioned was that she thinks the students deserve compensation for their work. Often times, individual feel they can use artists for free. I don’t know how much is creative and fun versus work for an artist, but I really related to what she said.

    There are quite a few things I enjoy about writing — plotting, creating characters, the first draft, making a cover… but beyond those items, everything is work — rereading the story to ensure it make sense, polishing and reworking, formatting, marketing, the list goes on. It’s enough to quiet my muse. 🙂 For me, a large part of preparing a work for publication is about the money. If not, then I’d put out my first drafts and move on. Hmmm… why don’t I just do that? I’ll have to think about it for a bit. I might just start doing that. Life is too short to force myself to do things I’m not enjoying.

    Well and happy? After a life threatening event last year, I’m getting well. And I’m definitely happier.

    Thank you for your thought provoking response, Steve.

  3. Pingback: The Fussy Librarian Reader Survey – Short Stories » Reena Jacobs' Blog: Ramblings of an Amateur Writer

  4. Pingback: To Edit or Not to Edit » Reena Jacobs' Blog: Ramblings of an Amateur Writer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *