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eBook Pricing and Why It Matters Even More

ebook mrgIf you’re even flirting with the idea of writing an eBook, you probably have heard about the war between Amazon and Hachette. While we feel that Amazon, like other big publishers, isn’t always the right approach (selling your eBooks on your own website allows you to keep 100% of the profits), we do believe it has brought to light some important arguments about eBook pricing.

The Cost of a Print Book

When you publish a print book, there are a number of costs that go into it, from typesetting and binding to the cost of paper and ink. That doesn’t even cover the cost of putting physical books in boxes and shipping them around the country. With gas prices as high as they are and the cost of labor what it is, it’s no wonder print books can sometimes be quite high.

The Cost of an eBook

An eBook also requires an investment, but it requires no investment that a print book does not (a tool for writing the book, be it laptop or typewriter), proofreaders, typesetters or formatters (or the time it takes you to do the formatting yourself), and a cover design. But when delivery can happen at the push of a button, cutting out ink, paper, shipping, and labor, there’s simply no comparison.

Should eBooks cost less than print books? Absolutely. Next time, we’ll explore price points and how they can affect your sales.

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eBook Pricing Revisited

saleWouldn’t it be nice if every eBook was priced based on how much blood, sweat and tears the author put into creating it? Of course, for some indie authors, that might mean that their eBook is priced somewhere out of the market for most readers.

Instead, it’s up to you as the indie author to determine eBook pricing based upon what the market will bear. How do you decide where to price your eBook? We think it depends on multiple factors:

  • the length of the eBook
  • the purpose of the eBook
  • the investment you’ve made in creating the eBook
  • your visibility as an eBook author
  • the marketability of your eBook
  • the target audience

The price of your eBook can also change over time, and likely will. Even if you offer an introductory price on your eBook to entice readers, you may want to align the price with other eBooks of the same genre if it becomes popular. You may also lower the price of your eBook to help promote subsequent publications. eBook pricing can be one of the most challenging parts of selling your eBook, and it’s okay to experiment with different prices and offers. In our next post, we’ll discuss specific pricing approaches

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How to Price Your eBook

Paperback books retail for $7.99 or more; hardcover books retail for more than $20. So why do publishers and indie authors price their books in the 99-cent to $2.99 range? Is there a perception that their books aren’t worth enough, or is it something else? Learning how to price your ebook can be difficult.

ebook-pricingConsider what goes into the publication of a hardcover or paperback book: paper, printing, binding and artwork. When you add in the unpredictability of shipping costs and the effort it takes to get a book placed in stores, the price is almost justifiable. Even the cost of self publishing and small-run printings can reach into the $300-$1000 range! So when an indie author can, from the comfort of his or her home computer, create a compelling piece of fiction, nonfiction or poetry, then format that book and obtain digital rights to whatever images are used for a fraction of the cost it takes to prepare a print book, perhaps the lower price per sale is justifiable.

The price of your ebook, however, should still reflect the time and effort that you put into it, but don’t expect to be able to sell an electronically-delivered book for anywhere near what a hardcover book would command. In fact, when it comes to pricing, we recommend offering a low-price “buy it now” option to get a few people buying and talking about the book before raising the price to your target rate.

We will talk more about how to leverage price to market your book in the next post.


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