Let’s Talk Book Prices

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Money

I started thinking about book prices the other day. There’s this book I’ve had my eye on for a while, by a debut author. But when I finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase it, I saw that the cheapest price was still very steep. At ten dollars for the digital copy, it was out of my price range for a new author whose writing style I know nothing about.

So today I’m turning things over to you. I’d like to know what’s the max price you are willing to shell out for a book by a new or new-to-you author, both in digital and print format. What’s the max price you’d pay for a self-published book?

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32 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Book Prices

    Kay Springsteen said:
    June 22, 2011 at 8:46 am

    My answer as a reader: If I’ve been following the author for a while and find myself very intrigued, AND have had the opportunity to read not just one but several excerpts that only continue to whet my appetite, I will pay a higher price than I’d be willing to pay if I had no access to excerpts.

    My answer as an author: We often don’t have control over our prices, and while my work is not among the highest I’ve seen, I sometimes get frustrated when readers say to me that they can’t afford it, and even more so when I’m involved in a promo and people feel the need to interject that for that price, they’d rather find a freebie. So, with the answer above (as a reader) in mind, I try to make as much of my work available to people as I possibly can and as a newbie, I participate in a lot of giveaways. Thank you for addressing the subject of book costs.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 22, 2011 at 8:50 am

      Great points there, Kay. I think it’s pretty crucial to give readers some access to your writing style. Excerpts are excellent at accomplishing that.

      On the author end, I think new authors need to consider book prices when choosing a publisher. If you’ve never published a story before and your publisher charges $10 for the digital book, then you’ve got a tough sales road ahead of you.

    Julia Rachel Barrett said:
    June 22, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I stopped buying hardcover books long ago because of the price and even with paperbacks, I look for used copies. Kindle is a whole other animal. If something is more than $5.99 I think twice and read a sample first.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 22, 2011 at 9:44 am

      It’s amazing that in this day and age certain books will not have samples. They seem to be pretty crucial in hooking buyers.

    Viki S. said:
    June 22, 2011 at 10:32 am

    If we’re talking a new to me author, honestly I get it from the library first. I can’t see shelling out $8 to $22 for a book by an un-known to me author. If I find I like the author I will then go buy the book. I’m as cash strapped as the next person but after following a bunch of my favorite authors for a while now I realize that they really don’t make much and I really want to give them my support. The enjoyment I get out of the reads justifies the purchase.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 22, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      I wish I got to the library more often. I have a pretty big book addiction.

    monakarelauthor said:
    June 22, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I have to really like the author or be really intrigued by the samples to even consider paying a lot for the Kindle edition. It irritates me to find an author I like and then see the back list Kindle is full paperback price. Generally this is through a major publishing house, and now we discover they might not be tracking the electronic sales accurately, which is also irritating. I absolutely agree with supporting authors, especially newer ones, and try to as much as possible.
    Counter question – at what point do you stop supporting a favored author who has either produced several not so wonderful books in a row, or whose publisher keeps the Kindle editions at full price?

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 22, 2011 at 9:32 pm

      If it’s a favorite author, I’ll support her to the end, no matter the price. I followed Karen Marie Moning went she went to hardback. I grumbled about it, but I still bought the books. 🙂 Now as to an author who has produced several books in a row I don’t like, it would take quite a few for me to stop supporting her. I’d say at least five. 🙂

    Bart Palamaro said:
    June 22, 2011 at 11:14 am

    2.99 – 4.99 for a kindle edition, after that I’m at the local library or the Book Barn. Under 2.99 I think they’re selling damaged goods. Not strictly logical, an emotional attitude I admit, but there it is.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 22, 2011 at 9:33 pm

      I hear you, Bart. There’s always that thought in the back of your head when a book is so cheap.

    Lisa Kessler said:
    June 22, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Interesting discussion Rosalie!

    I’m reading 99% of my books on my Kindle now… I have to REALLY want a book to pay over $7.99 for the eBook. I just can’t stomach paying more than that for an eBook when you don’t get anything to hold in your hand! LOL Maybe I’m old school?

    For print versions of books I’m only buying them if they’re authors that I love and have all the rest of their books. I’m willing to buy them in hardcover too… (SOmetimes I buy the hardcover and then buy the eBook because I only read on my Kindle… Ack! LOL)

    Interesting blog!

    Lisa 🙂

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 22, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      I’ve had an ereader for a few months and I’m quickly migrating to ebooks. Still probably half and half, but ebooks are starting to win the battle, LOL.

      J.D. said:
      June 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm

      Lisa I am with you, but I was afraid to speak up. 😉 For me, *nods* yes, if I don’t know the author, I’d at least like a little tidbit to see what I might be in for. But they’d have to be an incredible favorite, one of my autobuys–or someone I know–for me to pay $7.99 or more for an ebook. However I have been known to pay $14 for a Lulu paperback, but I must admit, that was because I already knew the author. I think an ideal price for a self-published ebook would fall in the .99-3.99 range, depending on the size of the book.

    Christiane Johnson said:
    June 22, 2011 at 11:50 am

    As a reader: First answer that come to mind is the public library, but they are strapped for money as everyone else and they do not carry books from small publishers. So we are dependent on the authors to wet our appetite by giving us good excerpts. Even established authors gives excerpts.
    I read more and more authors on my kindle. Again small publishers do not always gives you a link for kindle, so I have to read on my PC and that defeat the purpose to carry a book with you.
    And lets face it, some covers are not for public viewing, so I cannot afford a $15,00 for a paperback, less a $28.00 for a hardback. My budget for books was $200.00, went down to $75.00 and now that I had to retire, this is slashed drastically.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 22, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      Good point, Christiane. Library budgets are dwindling. Kinda scary.

    Shelley Munro said:
    June 22, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    I hardly ever buy paperbacks now. They’re expensive in NZ (NZ$20 -25). For ebooks, I’ll consider up to $6.99 for a full length novel. (That’s US$) Pricing is such an intricate and involved process because everyone has different expectations. Interesting discussion.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 22, 2011 at 9:37 pm

      I can’t imagine spending $25 for a paperback. But then, if I had no other choice I would, LOL.

    Maeve Greyson said:
    June 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I admit it. If an author snares me into their worlds, I will purchase the hardcover copies of every book they write and guard the collection with my life. If it’s an author I’m not familiar with but they look like enjoyable reads, I’ll pay the 6.99 to 7.99 for a paperback or the same for the digital version.

    Kathy Bennett said:
    June 23, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Hi Rosalie;

    Great topic!

    I’m loving buying books on my e-reader. I do find I balk at paying more than $5.99 – except for my favorite authors.

    As an author, I was startled by the comment that a book priced less than $.99 is suspect. I’m a debut author who has worked for years to craft my book to make it the best it can be. But I also realize that people don’t know me. They don’t have reason to trust my writing ability. For that reason I’ve priced my book at $.99 to attract readers.

    May I respectfully suggest you may be missing out on some very good reads that are a real bargain to boot. And if you want a place to start, you can start with mine 😉

      Kay Springsteen said:
      June 23, 2011 at 9:42 am

      I have to agree with Kathy. I’ve had people complain because I’m new and my publisher set the price at $5.99 on Amazon. But if anything in the 99-cent range is considered suspect, does that mean when the publisher puts the work on sale the writing would be considered suspect? That feels like a damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 23, 2011 at 10:31 am

      I think it’s instinctual for many people to feel that lower price equates to lower quality. The problem is that, at least with books coming out right now, that’s just not so. There are a lot of great authors out there trying to get noticed, and .99 is a good way to do it. That said, there’s also a lot of crap out there. But to be honest, I’ve found that to be the case even when buying NY pubbed books.

    L. j. Charles said:
    June 23, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I’m a new author, and like Kathy have been working on my craft for years. I have one YA, Lifethread, which is the first in a trilogy, and two books in my Gemini Women Trilogy, The Knowing and The Calling, available in print and digital formats. I started my pricing on all of the digital editions at 4.99 and quickly realized that very few people are willing to pay that for a debut author. When I changed the pricing to .99 – 1.99, I did sell more.

    It’s a tough call. I’m finding that I’m downloading the free samples to check out new authors, and that’s working well. There are some excellent indie pubbed books out there and I find I’m buying more of those lately than I am established authors. The price is right and the stories are great.

    BTW Kathy’s book is one of the good ones!

    L. j. Charles

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 23, 2011 at 10:34 am

      I think authors, especially those who choose to publish on their own, must be flexible according to what the market will bear. Right now prices are cheap. Will they stay that way forever? Who knows. But if you’ve taken the time to write and put a book up for sale, why not spend some more time experimenting with price to see what works for you and gets you the most recognition?

    AJ Barnett said:
    June 23, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I had a related problem with my debut novel when it was published a few years ago (paperback not ebook). The price was set ridiculously high and as I expected, sales were dismal. Unfortunately, authors have no control over publishing prices.

    Maybe a sign, but the publisher hit the wall in the economic downturn –

    I now self publish on Kindle, and set my prices VERY low to make sure I never fall into that trap again – but as Kay Springsteen says, maybe I’ll be damned simply because I have set the price low… What is the answer?

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 23, 2011 at 10:47 am

      If only we knew. But I think that fans will follow as prices rise. It’s just a matter of when to raise them and how much?

    Adam Omega said:
    June 23, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Very interesting discussion. As a reader, if it’s an author I’m unfamiliar with I go to the library. After that I’ll pay up to $9.00. Not that I don’t think the author deserve the more expensive price, I’m…..frugal.

    As an author who has just recently entered the put your own work on Kindle phase, I’m having a very hard time with the pricing. I’ve been putting up short stories that were bought by a magazine and I now have the rights back. I put them up for .99 on Kindle. A friend told me there were a couple of complaints that they were too short. THEY ARE LISTED AS SHORT STORIES.

    I’m getting ready to bring out a full length novel in the next few months. With the cost for my editor, who’s freelancing for me, the cover and everything else involved I need to price it at an amount that will eventually net a profit, yet not have it so high that it won’t sell.

    I’m thinking $3.99-$4.99. There is no way that I can seriously see putting it out there for the .99 price that readers including me appear to love.

    Oh yeah I forgot, if the book is .99 it doesn’t matter if I know the author. I buy the book. LOL.

    Dyanne Davis

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 23, 2011 at 11:44 am

      It’s interesting what some people expect, Dyanne. I also had someone complain that my .99 novella was too short. I mean, really? It was 35,000 words! But I guess some people expect they should get a 100k novel for that price. Just have to take a deep breath and let it go. 🙂

    J. Gunnar Grey said:
    June 23, 2011 at 11:54 am

    This is rather embarrassing, but after downloading several 0.99 ebooks last night, I went to the next on my list and hesitated because it was 2.99 and I don’t know the author.

    For self-published authors who set their own prices, 0.99 can pull in a lot of impulse buyers. I’m perfectly wiling to throw that away on a new-to-me author and have done so many, many times. I’ve also gotten some great reads that way, a number of them better than NY. Interestingly, one of the worst 0.99 reads I purchased was by a NY traditionally published author, who is clearly using this short story as a marketing tool to interest readers who won’t pay more for an unknown. But you know, that tactic only works if the short story is a good one.

    I did buy (and review) John Locke’s marketing manual, “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months.” He commented that, at 0.99 per novel, he doesn’t have to prove he’s as good as, say, Nora Roberts, whose ebooks may be priced at 9.99. Instead, Nora Roberts must prove she’s ten times as good as John Locke.

    Gunnar

    LJ DeLeon said:
    June 24, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Like Gunnar, I’ve also bought Locke’s book. I’ll spend up to $7.99 for a Kindle book b/c I was spending that for paperback. Over that, not a chance. Under $5, don’t even think twice. It’s so bad, I’ve had to buy myself an Amazon gift card to guarantee I don’t send over x/month. I no longer have my credit card on file, just gift cards.

    Adam Omega said:
    June 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    LOL. I was buying so many gift cards to give out as prizes to readers that I broke down and got an Amazon credit card which I was trying to hide from my husband. But one day he got the mail before I did..LoL.

    Another thing about complaints, one NYT, USA today, bestselling author had a full length novel up on Amazon for free. You wouldn’t believe how many bad reviews she got for a free book.

    Dyanne

    Jess Richardson said:
    June 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I admit, the average eBook I buy is $2.99 or less. More than that and I really feel I need a strong recommendation from some trusted reviewers who have very similar tastes to mine or to have already read and enjoyed books by that author. I have been known $12.99 for new releases on Kindle if it’s an author I know and love, but for a debut or new-to-me? My upper limit is $4.99 unless it’s come highly recommended, includes a first-chapter sample (for novel length) that I got sucked in by, or has a really incredible blurb (shorter works).

    Keep in mind though, I buy exclusively ebooks (I have bad eyesight and need the accessibility options), so pricing can be especially frustrating for books that are also available in print, especially when you can get the used paperbacks for $1 on Amazon but the ebook is still $6.99… Just the other day I was complaining to my husband that a new release I wanted (also from a new-to-me author) was actually CHEAPER for the paperback than it was for the Kindle version, and this was on release day! *sigh*

    I’ve never had a problem with length related to price so long as it’s either listed as a short story, or has a word count (oh how I love when authors include word counts in the description! That’s like putting ounces on a package of laundry soap at the store — something consumers need to know! LOL), but I have been known to review saying that the story itself would’ve benefited from being longer if that was the case, regardless of what I paid for it.

    And in one of those silly twists, I’m more likely to read and review a book if I paid $0.99 (or more obviously) than if it was free, unless it’s only free because it’s the first book in an already established series and is only priced that way to entice new readers to that series. That’s long been a personal quirk of mine 😛

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