Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How Much Should Ebooks Cost?

Fact 1: 

Tyra Banks has a new book coming out in September.

The list price for the hardcover edition is $17.99, but is discounted to $11.00.

The digital version is a penny less than the print version: $10.99.

Fact 2:

Stephen King's new novella, "Mile 81", is available September 1st as an ebook priced at $2.99.

His next full length novel, due in November, is $18.42 with an ebook version priced at $16.99. 

I've been struggling with ebook price-setting for a few months, now.

When I published "Prismatica" online, it was 99 cents. But then I decided to publish a single short story.

Having that short story sitting next to the collection, which was about ninety pages long, I couldn't help but think that "Prismatica" needed to be a little more expensive than the story.

Some people think 99 cents is too much to spend on a short story and I say, "No, it isn't." A short story still takes time and effort to write, edit, and format. At the very least, we're talking about a day or two, unless you're a really sharp writer with tons of time on your hands.

A "short story" is not a "cheap story".

And an ebook is not necessarily a "cheap" book.

I don't necessarily like the price points shown in the examples above. My knee-jerk reaction to an ebook price of $10.99 is, "GREED!" And to see my own literary idol selling his new novel as an ebook at $16.99 makes me want to cry. Yet, considering the amount of human contact that goes into the print versions of these books, I can understand how a publisher might have to use higher priced ebooks to recuperate expenses and get manufactures compensated.

Indie authors and readers complain about these prices and profess that the cheaper, the more successful. Sure, in some cases, this is true.

But we have to be careful with our pricing. Some people think that cheap ebooks are gold, that the only way to indie publish is to do it at a discounted rate. And to a degree, I understand that line of thought. Indie writers don't have much going for them, so using a low price point is another way to get a foot in the reader's door.

At the same time, I have to ask: are we selling ourselves short? And at the same time, possibly reinforcing a stereotype that indie writers aren't worth much? We spend as much, if not more, time working on our pieces and getting them to readers. If anything, our work should be priced higher.

It's not realistic, though, and I won't be changing the price of "Prismatica" to $15 anytime soon.

Do I think legacy publishers could lower the prices of their ebook offerings? Sure.

But do I think indie authors should keep theirs so low? I'm not quite sure.It's an evolving market and I'm eager to see where we are a year from now.

Let me know what you think. This is one of those issues that keeps boiling all over the internet and I'd love to hear where you stand.

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