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Friday, July 23, 2010

Bargain eBooks -- What Do You Think?

Today's post will be my first attempt at a discussion format. The topic for today is bargain eBooks.

I'm going to arbitrarily define a bargain eBook as an eBook that sells for $1.00 or less and is not a reprint or a public domain publication.

Here are the two questions for discussion:

1) How does the availability of bargain eBooks affect the readers' opinions of self-published authors/books in general -- or does it have no effect?

2) Does the availability of bargain eBooks help or hinder sales of more expensive publications (>$1.00) -- or does it have no effect on their sales at all?

I will be very interested to see your posts. Please contribute. This is a topic on which I know there are many different viewpoints. This is your chance to be heard.




  1. John

    I really have mixed feelings on the issue of very low-priced ebooks. In some ways, I would guess the low price of less than one dollar does affect the more “normally” priced ebooks. I’ve not lowered the price of my ebooks or those of my husband Don Pendleton’s. I’ve kept our novels in the 6.99 to 9.99 range. It appears people with Kindles for instance, are buying up the very low priced books, but in speaking with a couple of people I know who do have Kindles, they tell me they are not buying the low priced books but paying in the 9 dollar range and even higher.

    I don’t have a Kindle reader and I personally would hesitate buying an unknown author’s book for a buck. Low pricing makes one wonder if an author devalues his own work, and if the quality of the writing may be questionable. Then again, low pricing can affect authors who price higher as some readers may only look for bargain basement prices.

    So pricing for us is a challenge, no doubt.

  2. Excellent question! I'm anxious to see responses too. I've not yet published, but have been studying the different options as I continue to write.

  3. This post doesn't seem to have generated the level of discussion I had hoped. Let me pitch in with a couple thoughts.

    First of all, if I write a book, the thing is damn sure going to be worth more than a buck to my audience. To say it's worth so little is to say I might as well not have written it in the first place.

    That being said, I might want to really get an important message out there to as many people as possible. So regardless of the book's intrinsic value, I might decide to give it away. I don't know for sure whether that would actually increase the book's following, because a lot of people tend to believe that "you get what you pay for." But I might try it.

    If offering an inexpensive or free book did, in fact, increase "sales," I would consider that to be a success only if my true goal was to get a message out there -- not to be a writer or to have written something remarkable. How can you claim your book is remarkable, or artful, if people are only willing to pay a buck for it!

    In that price range, I'm only competing with the McDonald's value menu for the buyer's money. And given how many fries go into the garbage at McDonald's, I could have no confidence whatsoever that people were actually reading my book. People will try anything for a buck . . . and toss it if it's junk.

    Any thoughts on the above?

  4. The most common reason I've seen for offering ebooks for $1 or less is to entice readers in - and that obviously works very well for some indie authors.

    Hasn't worked for me. Even 20% off my cover prices usually results in sales slowing or stopping completely.

    My $2.99 and less titles were selling so poorly, I pulled all of them. My current ebook prices range from $3.25 to $9.95, based on word count. All I have out now are $3.25 to $5.25 titles, but they are selling at those prices.

    Not a lot, but yes, selling. =)

  5. My three eBooks are currently selling at prices of $6.99 to $9.99. The two of them that are novels are so new that it's hard for me to evaluate at what rate sales will continue. But I am very satisfied at the eBook sales so far.

    I had listed my first novel for sale at $2.99 for a while but only sold one book in several weeks time. So I asked a Kindle user friend of mine what price range she thought would be right for my books. She said, "Anything under 10 bucks is golden."

    So my prices are back up there. We'll have to let some time pass to see if this pricing works out.

    Interestingly, eBook sales of my non-fiction volleyball book over the past two months have outpaced paperback for the first time since its publication in May, 2009. The price difference between the paper and digital is about 25%.