Home » Ebooks, Pricing » Must you price-slash to get into the Kindle UK Top 10?

Must you price-slash to get into the Kindle UK Top 10?

27 November 2012

From The Luzme Blog:

Here’s a graph of yesterday’s Top 30 Kindle bestsellers in the UK.

Kindle UK Top 30: Rank vs. Current Price (22 Nov 2012)

A spread of prices as you’d expect, mostly below £5, with just one with a £9.99 price (the new Ian Rankin book, “Standing in Another Man’s Grave” by Ian Rankin).

Then I wondered, “that’s what the prices are now but I wonder what they were previously”.

Link to the rest at The Luzme Blog

Ebooks, Pricing

27 Comments to “Must you price-slash to get into the Kindle UK Top 10?”

  1. P.G.

    More than $5.00 is too much for an ebook.

    I couldn’t care less how writers whinge and moan.

    Not paying more. End of.


  2. It’s a tough call. Though I agree with Brendan, especially when buying fiction ebooks (nonficiton/reference falls into another category, I would spend more than $5 depending on the subject/need) there is the break point that’s too low as well. Free should only be for promos, readers are already starting to have entitlement attitudes about reading original fiction for free or almost free.

    That being said, we can’t charge too much because everyone understands that ebooks don’t cost as much as paper. I think this is a great thing. Finally we can get back to reasonably priced fiction, but as authors, we need to be cautious to avoid conditioning the reader population to expect free or .99 all the time. Our work is valuable and should be priced as such. If we don’t respect and demand that, they won’t.

    I speak from direct experience. Already I’ve had readers who’ve balked when I tell them my price is $2.99 for a 100K ebook.

    I used to post at fictionpress when I first started writing again (to get a reader reactions) and I’ve since pulled to publish. A reader actually messaged me, angry that I’d taken down my free story (rough first draft of course) that she’d wanted to read. I had left a link where she could purchase it but as she stated “I don’t want to buy it or wait, I want to read a good story now.”

    This is a slippery slope that we must guard against now.

    Good news though, I messaged the reader back explaining my position and she then agreed since she too wants to be a published writer and admitted her hypocrisy.

  3. I remember when I bought Hugh Howies book Wool. I think I paid $3.99.

    I runs to over 550 pages in print.

    When I was done I felt like I had ripped the guy off. It was simply underpriced. A frickin cup of Starbucks is 5 bucks and it last a few minutes. Check out my post on pricing perspective.

    Five dollars is NOT too much for a book that provides hours of entertainment.

    Don’t get me started on the whole “Free” thing either.

    • I totally agree. $5.00 is a fine price but hardly a cap. It depends on the book, length, etc. IMO, ten bucks for a book like Sanderson’s Way of Kings, which weighs in at over 1k pages is a decent price, but I’d pay up to $12.00 for a book that size. On average, I feel that $5-$10 is reasonable.

  4. The thing that I don’t see anyone mentioning when discussing price is this:

    You don’t actually own the ebook you buy. You’re paying for the use of it.

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. As an MMORPG player for several years I’m used to spending money to use a product I don’t own. However, I do think that prices should reflect this aspect of ebooks.

    It makes sense to me to pay $10 or more for a physical object that is totally yours, forever and ever, amen. But it doesn’t make sense to me to pay more that $5 for access to an ebook that I don’t technically own. And frankly, I’d rather pay less than that.

    When I take his side of ebooks into consideration, 99 cent price points don’t sound so unreasonable.

  5. Note that the graph isn’t in US dollars. It’s in pounds. So that 9.99 book is actually $16.00.

  6. I like the analogy to a starbucks – you really don’t own that, either. You just kinda retain it for a while…

    Seriously tho – 🙂 comparison with a coffee is not bad. A 2.99 – 4.99 book probably lasts longer. I rarely buy an ebook priced above 5.00 – even the top writers. So I can well imagine a wider reluctance to purchase at prices above that level.

  7. From my blog;

    What do we buy on an average basis that cost us around $3.00? Think of something that you don’t really think twice about when you purchase it.

    How about:

    A gallon of gas; $3.80. (Criminal)

    A Happy Meal; $3.00. ($1 on Thursday!)

    A pack of cigarettes; $4.50. (So I’m told.)

    A large bottle of water; $2.50. (Outrageous.)

    A Latte from Starbucks $4.50. (Guilty.)

    A Powerball Lottery ticket $2.00 (Only one.)

    A Subway Sub $5.00 (Last night.)

    We buy these things without thinking about it. Every day.
    So why do we spend hours of time thinking and blogging and worrying about whether we should price our book at $2.99 or $3.99? Do we really believe that the reader is that sensitive to the one dollar difference in price?

    Or do we just hope that they are?

    • And I’ll add this;

      Did you notice that nothing on the list above last for more than a few minutes? (Except maybe the lottery ticket, wouldn’t that be nice) Yet the book you buy will last forever.

      When I consider my own buying habits when I shop for books, I can’t say that a price difference of a dollar or two has ever made my choice for me. If I had to pick the deciding factor it would be a sample of the work. The cover catches my attention and then I might read the blurb to see what I’m looking at, but the deciding factor has always been those few pages that I read. Unless the price is outrageous, it rarely comes into play

    • Good points, Randall.

      Some of what’s going on is that an ebook is a new product. It’s similar in some ways to a printed book, but certainly not identical.

      Most consumers don’t have a preconceived idea about how much an ebook should cost so authors hear a lot of different ideas about pricing.

      Since a lot of ebooks are being offered by indie authors, there’s a lot more price experimentation than there would be by traditional publishers.

      Eventually the market will decide what the proper pricing of various types of ebooks should be and prices will tend to center around those consensus points.

      • I will definitely agree with you on the volatility of the pricing that we see now. I think everyone feels the need to run their own experiments in a quest for the ever elusive “sweet spot” that maximizes sales/income, that magic number that sits in the grey area between impulse buy and thought-out purchase. I’ll admit to following other peoples experiments with curiosity just to see what conclusions they come to, but I take each one with a grain of salt.

        However, since there are no self-publishing veterens yet, its hard to actually proove that someones idea works across the board. A few years from now everything will no doubt be different.

        I’ll probably catch some grief for this but I’ll stick my head out anyway. I think as the self-pub community looses the writers who only had one book in them, and as the rest gain more business knowledge, prices will start falling into more well-defined brackets. Free and $.99 will be used only by those just entering the self-pub world while the writers with a few books out will find their comfort zones (or as you said the market will decide for them) and stick with them. There will be less time spent on promotion and more time writing.

        But thats just my opinion, I could be wrong.:)

        • The rules for indie publishing seem to change about every six months.

          • I think it’s probably still too early to think that we have any reasonably reliable rules for indie publishing to change. 🙂

            I see your point and I don’t argue at all. I just think that the reason the more-or-less accepted “rules” change so frequently is that they aren’t rules at all, they’re empirical observations/hypotheses based on insufficient data.

            • There is one thing that I see happening that makes me believe that e-book pricing will become more stable and that is the fact that many of the writers are realizing the mistake of ignoring print.

              Print book pricing is defined by the process of producing it and the price of comparable trade publications. Once the writer has a print book out they can then price their e-book accordingly.

              In other words the sweet spot for e-books is better defined by the page count of the print book they market. The print price is the cost of the print version plus whatever margin they attach, yet the price also needs to be less than a comparable trade published book in order to sell well. So there is a bracket that is defined FOR the author. They’ll have to price their print book within that bracket. If they go outside it they either take a loss or price themselves out of the market.

              Once that print price is set the e-book price will start being a percentage of that price. I think it will end up falling between 50-80% of the print price.

              But again, I could be wrong! 🙂

            • Good point, Marc, but I constantly see self-publishing consultants promulgating rules for self-publishing success. Some people aren’t comfortable without rules.

  8. I’m not quite sure what this comparison is trying to show. Ms. Willmer makes the statement:

    And you can see that all of the Top 10 have been offered with a price below £1 over the last week.

    As far as I can see, 8 of the top 10 books are still below 1 pound (don’t know how to make the ‘pound’ symbol). In fact, looking at all 30 books, it seems that only three have actually changed price in the past week – numbers 4, 5, and 16.

    Going by the graphs, it seems that someone might be able to argue that having a ‘low/free’ price is necessary to being in the top 10 but I don’t really understand where the ‘price-slashing’ is coming into play.

    It’s sort of depressing to see that 6 of the top 10 are free.

  9. Inconclusive and dangerous to use this graph to make the assumption that low price gets you better ranking. There are plenty of low priced books farther down the list on this graph (exceptions).

    A better analysis would be to take the top ten books vs the 91-100th books on the list and compare those because you can expect more separation between the groups (if the hypothesis is correct). I just did this with the US Amazon top sales and the statistics between 1-10 vs 91-100 groups fails to convincingly reveal a pricing influence.

    The ‘eyeball conclusion’, ignoring statistical interpretation, of the US chart is you better price at $12.99+ if you want any chance of being near the top ten rank. Not a valid conclusion but there is more ‘clumping’ near that price range that could lead to that idea.

  10. Coincidentally, PubIt (Barnes and Noble’s Nook epublishing business) just started selling in the UK this week. They autoconverted all the prices but my books were then selling for something like £1.87. That’s silly. They all end in .99 now. Sorry, UKdians, but your 12 pence is MINE. In the US, we have a technical term for this: “Additional dealer profit.” MUWAHAHAHAHA.

    Seriously, I actually did round one of them down. It just happens that the vast majority come in a few pence under a .99 figure at current rates. I did it as much to fix the prices at a good number as to make more money. I have no idea how often they plan to adjust for currency conversion but that would be annoying.

    The good news is all of my books are in the “price-slash” range. So maybe some of you cheap z-avoiding (sorry, zed-avoiding) so-and-so’s will buy a few.

  11. “It’s sort of depressing to see that 6 of the top 10 are free.”

    Barbara, (not just you Barbara-aimed at list:)


    Not maybe to those of us who are on a restricted income and STILL buy books.

    Not to mind that it’s a depression.

    I keep an eye-ish on the free books and there are some tremendous books there.

    Lot of carp, sure, but lot of good.

    Thing is, I STILL BUY BOOKS. I do not, and will not pirate them.

    You writers should listen to me. I’m not a moaning writer, I buy the things.

    I couldn’t give a tootsie roll about how much things are WORTH.

    As someone who has bought and sold 62 houses now, boy howdy, do I know the old adage, “things are worth what people will pay for them.”

    I NEVER once paid for LOCATION. Pah, what nonsense.

    Apple tarts are worth about 9000 million percent what they are worth, there are a lot of drunk buyers out there. If you can add some sort of Apple-tart-Fizz to yer books, maybe you can charge a zillion times more than they are worth, in the meantime…THE LICENCE I am granted to read the digital copy of you book is worth $5:00 to me.

    A real buyer and reader of ebooks.

    $5:00 is IT.


    • *prices her highest at $4.99*
      *admits it’s a duology, and a Fantasy Romance one at that*
      *has 50% of each for sampling, on Smashwords*
      *suggests reading the Amazon reviews, too*


  12. Really interesting comments from everyone here. We blogged about this at allonymbooks.wordpress.com this week – pricing seems to be a hot topic!

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