From author Scott William Carter:
Amazon lists most of their genre fiction ebooks at $4.99, with backlist often at $3.99. Is this the correct price? Four years after publication, Simon and Schuster still sells the ebook edition of my first novel for $11.76, a price I think is insane, but who knows, perhaps they’re onto something. My sharp friends Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith generally advocate pricing a little higher than most indie authors, andthey have valid reasoning behind their approach, especially when you consider they have started a traditional publishing company, albeit one that’s smartly taking advantage of all the new technologies. And of course there are loads of writers, like Joe Konrath, who happily price at $2.99 or $3.99 and are doing very well. Who’s correct?
No one, at least as far as I’m concerned. Or everyone. With ebooks, price can’t primarily be about supply and demand, because supply is infinite, but it is affected by not only what consumers are willing to pay, but also by your goals as a publisher. There is no correct price for all ebooks.
Now, that said, where do I come down? I think Amazon is probably onto something, but even they, with their mountains of proprietary data on their own customer’s buying habits, which you would think would give them an enormous advantage, currently only have five out of the top twenty books on their own Kindle bestseller list. A twenty-five percent hit rate is pretty good, but that’s their own bestseller list on their own site for a product they created! (And look at how prices are all over the map on that list; that alone should tell you something.) Still, I think ebooks are closer in parallel to movie rentals, and no one says that a .99 movie rental at your local Redbox is somehow devaluing the movie. Louis CK now sells his comedy specials direct to his fans for $4.99, and he’s made millions doing so. It’s a pretty safe bet that his fans don’t think he’s devaluing his work, but instead think they’re getting a good deal. That’s what I think, anyway, and I’m one of them.
. . . .
When the paperback novel was released in Britain, and here in America, it was just as much a gamechanger as the ebook. That’s why the arguments about cheap book prices devaluing literature sound so familiar. We’re just rehashing the same argument that was had about paperbacks. “My books are certainly worth more than a Big Mac at McDonalds!” the writer claims. Well, that certainly may be true to that writer, but who cares? The average price of a Big Mac in America in January 2014 was $4.64, which is pretty close to where Amazon prices their genre ebooks, and most writers would be happy to move as many ebooks as McDonalds moves Big Macs. Pocket Books priced paperbacks in the forties and early fifties at 25 cents and sold millions — a price that would be the equivalent of just under $3 today. Boy, did some folks howl about how books priced so low couldn’t be “real books,” just as the reincarnated literati, like zombies who eat books instead of brains, say the same thing today.
What’s wrong with giving people a good deal?
Link to the rest at Scott William Carter