So as I was searching the blogosphere this morning, I ran across several interesting blog posts about e-book pricing that were really informative. I’m listing the links here so you can check them out for yourself. I think the bloggers make some interesting points, and it certainly is food for thought.
Traditional romance author Stephanie Laurens has a blog (Ofdinosaursanddaffodils.blogspot.com) that I have just started following. She’s posting a series of thought-provoking blogs about the publishing industry, why we read, and pricing. I’ve read many of her novels (she’s published 47 books), although I haven’t read her most recent one. Her comments are insightful, especially her most recent post about story-telling, and how e-books are merely one more format change in the evolution of stories. In one of her recent posts, she argues that print publishing will be here if not to stay, then at least for a long while, because readers want to see an author’s product in the format to which they are accustomed. In my earlier post on e-book pricing, I questioned why publishers would get so upset about e-book prices when you can purchase a book at Walmart or Target for a discounted price. Ms. Laurens made this comment in her blog about that very topic:
” What will significantly impact the speed at which e-books replace p-books is the contraction of shelf space in wholesale.
The day either Walmart or Target axes the floor space they currently devote to genre paperback bestsellers is the day genre fiction publishing starts on the downhill run to e-book + POD only.”
I think Ms. Laurens is dead-on in her comments, and I encourage you to check out her blog.
There’s an interview with author Zoe Winters on allindiepublishing.com (http://allindiepublishing.com/author-interviews/zoe-winters-on-ebook-pricing/) about authors who self-publish and how offering low prices on books could be hurting the market. I read Ms. Winters’ first novel, Kept, on my Kindle last year, and I believe I downloaded it for free, although I can’t remember. It was not a bad read, although I haven’t purchased any of her books since. She explains in the interview that offering books at such a low price is often done to entice readers to try out a new author, in the hopes that they’ll then purchase future books at a higher price. Ms. Winters argues that this is actually counter-productive, because it devalues the work done by all authors and gets readers used to such low prices that they come to expect these prices. I’m not sure I agree completely, although I do confess that I often expect the quality of writing in a 99 cent book to be lower, which is not always the case.
In my experience, it does seem that the cheaper ebooks (less than $4.00) are usually self-published or from what appears to be a vanity press (you pay to get your book published). Typically these books are of an inferior quality, and I admit that I’m a much more forgiving reader for these books, because I haven’t invested a lot of money in them. If the writing is good, I’ll continue to purchase books by that author, and I would be willing to pay more, which in a way contradicts Ms. Winters’ argument. This has actually happened with authors Kinsey Holley and Heather Killough-Walden. I enjoyed their books, and paid more for Ms. Holley’s second novel, Yours, Mine and Howls, than her first. I’ll definitely continue to read her books, as I felt this second novel clearly demonstrated growth as a writer and have reread the book several times since I purchased it. I also like Ms. Killough-Walden’s books, but she continues to offer them at 99 cents or a dollar. She could easily raise the price and I would purchase the books, because she’s a good writer.
Blogger Jane at dearauthor.com has also written a post about her thoughts on economics and value of books. (what-is-the-right-price-of-a-book-print-or-digital-part-one) She offers some comments about how we as readers decide if we will purchase a book based on how we value it. For example, if you had limited funds with which to purchase a book and someone you didn’t know well recommended a book or a close friend recommended one, you would choose to purchase the book recommended by the friend first. I agree with her comments, but I also have discovered that with my Kindle I’m more willing to try new authors I wouldn’t have read in the past. This could be for various reasons, but I suspect much of it has to do with the ease of purchase on the Kindle. Even though the cost to me is the same as if I were making the purchase in a store, it’s dangerously easy to sit in bed and click on a link to download the book. Getting dressed and going to the bookstore involves much more work, and is far less likely to happen. So I’m wondering how the ease of purchase would affect perceived value as Jane describes it. It’s an interesting blog, and I recommend it.
Finally, regency romance author Sabrina Jeffries has several articles about publishing on her website, SabringJeffries.com, that offer useful information about publishing terms, timelines, and the economics of writing. Her article, “The Big Misunderstanding About Money" is really funny and chock-full of information about the realities of how much an author really makes. Her point is that unless you’re a frequent New York Times bestseller, such as Nora Roberts, who seems to have more than 5 books out on the shelves at Walmart at any given moment, you’re probably not making a decent living by writing books. Ms. Jeffries doesn’t address the ebook issue in this article, but it’s definitely worth reading, just to see how much authors really make on a book.