Home » Kobo, Pricing, Self-Publishing » Kobo: Self-Publishing Responsible for Low Average Ebook Price

Kobo: Self-Publishing Responsible for Low Average Ebook Price

31 May 2013

From Digital Book World:

The global average ebook price has dropped 8% year-over-year in the first quarter, according to Kobo ebook sales data presented by chief content officer Michael Tamblyn at the IDPF conference in New York.

Worldwide, ebook prices have been fluctuating between $7.00 and $9.00 dollars, with an average selling price lingering at $7.50, according to Kobo’s data.

. . . .

Self-publishing is having a substantive effect on the average price of an ebook, not only because those titles tend to be low priced but also because of the large and growing volume of self-published ebooks on the market, said Tamblyn.

Since the launch of Kobo’s self-publishing service Writing Life, those authors comprise 10% of the company’s unit sales. Adding in self-published authors using other services that Kobo distributes, Tamblyn said that number jumps to 20% of unit sales.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Kobo, Pricing, Self-Publishing

19 Comments to “Kobo: Self-Publishing Responsible for Low Average Ebook Price”

  1. Low book price, could be. But how does it impact sales turnover ? Lower book prices but more sold could be better revenue in all…

  2. When there’s real competition, prices go down? I gotta think about this.

  3. Well, let’s be blunt here. As a writer, I’d rather they not go down. 😀 I like the bigger royalties. Maybe if we all band together and decide to only sell at a … oops. I think that’s illegal.

  4. Lot of backlash against self-publishing in the media lately.

    I suspect it’s a good sign.

    • Well, 6 top indies took a booth at BEA together, calling it the Indie Bestseller booth. Bella Andre, Hugh Howey, Tina Folsom, CJ Lyons, Barbara Freethy, and Stephanie Bond. Two of those authors were not traditionally published before making it big.

      Reports are coming out that 20-30% of Nook, B&N and, speculatively, Amazon’s, e-book sales are from self-published authors.

      Of course NY publishing is scared!

  5. This is the new reality for book (e-Book) prices. It is called Free Competition. This happens all the time when regulators or gate keepers step away or are bypassed. Want to make more money? Raise your prices, and see what happens. You may make more money. Group mentality belongs to trad-publishers. Indie publishers are independent and free to do what’s in the best interest for the readers and authors, not big corporations, be that publishers or retailers like Kobo.

  6. It takes me just under a year to finish a novel. I cannot afford to give it away or offer it a 3.99. If all novels were priced at 3.99 or below, nobody would make any money. At the moment far too many people who never thought to be writers see big bucks to me made and dash off something in a month or less and throw it out there. If it’s romance or erotica, it will sell like hotcakes.

    All is not bliss for professional self-published authors.

    • “If all novels were priced at 3.99 or below, nobody would make any money.”

      Well, assuming 70% net, that’s 2.73 per unit sold. Sell 20,000 units, that’s $55,000. Set aside a few thousand for expenses and that would be about the median U.S. household income. Based on the number of adult fiction books sold each year, the U.S. could support at least 100,000 writers making that kind of money. 100,000 is a lot more than zero.

      (And that’s assuming the dramatically lower price didn’t generate more sales).

    • “It takes me just under a year to finish a novel. I cannot afford to give it away or offer it a 3.99.”

      Illogical. I’s entire down to how many copies you actually sell over the time the book is for sale.

  7. IJ, do you think books should be priced at $100 each? Why not? Wouldn’t we all make more money if they were?

    And if you’re sure $100 is too much, why are you so sure $3.99 is too little? What data are you relying on?

    My backlist is all available for $3.99 or less and I make five figures a month from it. I guess you would contend those sales would dry up if all novels were similarly inexpensive? I think it more likely that the market would simply grow, and that more people would buy more books, which is how other markets seem to function in the presence of reduced prices. But perhaps books are just different — it seems a lot of people believe so, anyway.

    Somewhere between zero and $100 per unit, there is a per-unit price that when multiplied by volume will maximize revenues for a given book. The sweet-spot will vary for different books and different authors, but finding it would seem to be a sensible goal if you’re serious about maximizing revenues. And if you really want to find the sweet spot, assumptions are probably not as useful as data.

    Gathering that data takes some work, of course, which is perhaps part of the reason you say “All is not bliss for professional self-published authors.” True enough, and if you could steer me toward an All Bliss Profession, I’d be grateful. As it is, alas, I’m not aware of one…

    • Chocolatier?

      Seriously, though, Barry’s right (as usual). Try to let go of preconceived notions of what your work is ‘worth’ and, once the book is written, realize that you have a product, and you’re trying to sell it. Why wouldn’t you drop your prices on your backlist in order to find new readers?

      Also? I make more in royalties on a self-published .99 cent short story than I do on a sale of my first trad-pubbed novel. Try stepping back and looking at what you make as an author. $2.75 (give or take) earned on a title priced at 3.99 is an excellent royalty! You’re making so much more by cutting out the middlemens. Why not pass along some of that huge savings to the reader and grow your readership base at the same time?

  8. “Somewhere between zero and $100 per unit, there is a per-unit price that when multiplied by volume will maximize revenues for a given book.”

    I’m just feeling bad for the poor author who determined that zero was the best per-unit price that maximized his revenue.

    Seriously, though, I think what we’re seeing right now is cost pressures both from the bottom and the top, and my guess is that now that we’re out of the early adopter phase with ebooks, you’re going to see a lot more writers succeeding in the $4.99-$7.99 range, which is still pretty cheap for a full length novel. You can hardly eat at McDonalds for that. It’s only among indie writers that I hear it’s expensive. I almost never hear it from general readers.

    There’s a growing number of readers who associate low-priced books with poor quality (check out the RWA survey, or even the Smashwords study that Mark Corker did of 100,000 of his own ebooks), and that’s forcing the bottom up (already going from $2.99 to $3.99 it seems). And the flood of low-priced books are forcing traditional publishers to come down from their insane $10+ prices for ebooks.

    And this is just anecdotal, but I can’t tell you how many early Kindle users I’ve met who said they just bought anything in the beginning, and especially wanted it cheap because they’d forked out some dough for the e-reader, but are far more skeptical of cheap books than they were before.

    So my prediction is that will be the great untold story of the next few years, how many writers are doing well at slightly higher price points. Of course, they won’t be hitting bestseller lists, so I doubt you’ll hear much about them.

    But I agree that every writer has to determine where that magic price point is for each book.

    • Don’t pity the author who decided that zero was the profit maximizing price. She’s probably making more than you. Zero for the first book in a series is often the profit-maximizing price.

      Also, the magic price point for almost every book is to vary the price.

      • “Also, the magic price point for almost every book is to vary the price.”

        Do you have any evidence of this, or is this just an assertion? I think there’s plenty of evidence that starting with a higher baseline price and running occasional sales to gain readers works well, but varying all over the place? Not so sure. If I know as a reader that you will eventually lower all of your books to 99 cents, why would I not just wait until you do so?

        And the sentence was “maximize the profit for a given book.” Yes, I suppose if we consider all three books as one unit, then sure, making the first “perma-free” — which only works as an ebook — is one way to go. No argument from me — and I’m certainly an advocate for experimentation.

        Nice handle, btw. I wonder how many people get that reference. 😉

  9. Global average prices would come down a lot faster if Amazon stopped surcharging international readers outside the Kindle countries.

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