Ebook Price Ponderings

I just want to put my two cents out into cyber space about ebook prices, as it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’m on several writer’s forums, and it just makes me cringe when I see someone talking about bad reviews because $4.99 is too expensive for a 400 page book. Do you have any idea how long it takes to write a 400 page book? I personally feel like I’m almost ripping an author off paying that little.

I think perhaps we all need to take a step back and look at what books used to cost. Up until the past few years it was perfectly normal to go out and spend $30 on the new release hardback of your favorite series. I mean yeah, it’s a hardback book, but it so does not cost anywhere near $30 to produce when it’s mass-market. The onslaught of 99 cent kindle books really did us in on pricing. Not to say that all 99 cent books are bad. I have some out myself, as well as a free book. I’m just saying that not all books should cost 99 cents.

If you really look into it, many of the 99 cent books out there are around 50 pages, sometimes less. So is pricing a 150 page book at $2.99 really such a crime? I don’t think so. Now, if a 150 page book is $2.99, then a 400 page book should really cost $8.99, so $4.99 is an awesome bargain. Stop being cheap people. I know the economy ain’t what it used to be, but writing that 400 page book took up a huge chunk of that author’s life. They put EVERYTHING into that book. You’re going to get hours of enjoyment from that $4.99, and then complain about it, when we’ll go out and spend $4.99 on a pint of ice cream without a second thought. Speaking of ice cream, I need to go buy some. Let’s all be nice to authors, I swear we’re not trying to rip you off.


10 thoughts on “Ebook Price Ponderings

  1. I think that a big part of the problem is no matter how much we tell ourselves that electronic publishing is the way of the future and we consume more media through electronic rather than physical media, we still want someTHING and, to material creatures like humans, ebooks feel like nothing. We don’t actually HAVE the book, just the ability to read it. And why, we could read anything anywhere! If we’re going to pay money for something, we’d much rather HAVE something, right? So, it boils down to the psychological issue where a part of our brain is telling us that ebooks don’t actually exist and therefore don’t have value.

    1. I definitely agree with you. I mean, I’ll pay 9 bucks for the new Kindle release of my favorite author, but I probably wouldn’t spend $30 like I would with a hardback. Though when it just comes to just paying $5, I don’t feel like I need something tangible. $5 is such a disposable amount these days, and I’m not going to complain about paying that much for an ebook when I’ll pay that same amount for a cup of coffee.

      1. Well, my story is no longer an excuse at least; I broke down and ordered that book the other day (even though I found a promo-code to cut down on the shipping). I still find $5 hard to consider disposable, but that’s more my own money situation (especially since it can get me 5 hardbacks).

      2. Yes I suppose disposable isn’t the right term. I just mean that with how much things cost, I’d much rather buy something to read rather than some fast food :).

  2. (also, discovering library basement sales have ruined me forever. “I really want to buy that book that costs $27 on Lulu, but I just bought 27 like-new and library bound books the other day, so it would be awhile before I got to reading it anyway, and… excuses… excuses… excuses…”)

  3. I too have pondered this pricing at some length for my own (non fiction)work The Dangerous World of Tommy Atkins. Its about 100,000 words, and it took 8 drafts to get it right. That’s an awful lot of man hours.

    In the end I used Createspace to cost the production of the paper back version, and then added a margin on normal business lines. That then gave me a price for the Kindle version. Its not perfect, and I still wonder about whether changing it will make a difference to sales. I think not. Its a non-fiction book so most people will either be purchasing it for themselves to increase their knowledge, or (more likely given the time of year) as a gift. If its a gift they already have a price point in mind and I am within that.

    There are many reasons to buy – but the fact that something is cheap is not one of them. I question reducing my price (approx. US$15 – I’m across the pond from you) as it implies that I value it less. there is actually very little you can purchase for US$15. A couple of bottles of wine, my book (and most others) lasts longer, is better for your brain and doesn’t get you drunk – with all the potential complications….

    Set your price and hold it is my advice.

    1. I agree completely. My books are 45K a piece, so $2.99 doesn’t entirely kill my soul, in fact I’m quite okay with it. Yet when people tell me $2.99 is too expensive for something I worked on for four to six months I want to cry.

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