Monday, 6 December 2010

Guest Post: Robin Spano challenges e-book pricing & wants to know what price is right for you?

I'm intrigued by this challenge and happy to have Robin back on the blog today. I loved her debut novel, Dead Politician Society, and now thanks to this challenge, you can own the e-book for the special price of $1.99 for one week only (Dec 7-13)! What a great bargain!

Dead Politician Society on iBooks for $1.99 - available now!
Dead Politician Society of Kindle for $1.99 - available now!
Dead Politician Society on Kobo for $1.99- available now!

Read on to find out Robin's thoughts on e-book pricing. She's asking the questions, and as a  newbie to the e-reader scene, I'm giving her my answers. What price is a good e-book price for you?  We'd love to know what you think!

How does an ebook shopper shop? To me that's the ultimate question. I don't know – because I don't own an e-reader. But this week, my publisher and I have a challenge going on to see which one of us can gauge that market better.

Leanna, you just bought an e-reader. I'm intrigued by all the different brands that are available. Kindle and Nook look like cool machines, but isn't it hard to read other versions on them than their own proprietary software supports? The Sony e-reader looks versatile, but it doesn't get the greatest reviews. The iPad looks amazing – but expensive. Which kind did you choose?

 I chose the Sony e-reader (I didn't know it got bad reviews, though!).  You guys are spoiled for choice in the US and Canada, but over here e-readers haven't taken off to such an extent, and the choice if more limited. Also, if you live in Ireland, like I do, you have to jump through hoops to buy a Kindle - we can't buy from the UK site, we have to buy from the US site and pay high import charges. We don't have the Nook over here, and the iPad is out of my price range,.  Also, as you said, the Sony reader is very versatile, so I went with that. Also, mine is very pretty and pink, which is a bonus! :)

Have you bought any books for it yet? Or are you overwhelmed by all the free stuff you can download and review copies being sent to you by publishers?

I haven't bought any books yet, and I haven't really looked into where the best places are to buy for the sony reader,  but I did accept my first e-book for review last week, and it felt good to be able to say yes. The book was from a small publisher, so I like the fact that I'm being more economical with my review books now too.  With Netgalley and Simon & Schuster's GalleyGrab, I find that I have more than enough books to keep me occupied right now. That's another good thing about the Sony e-reader. Kindle isn't compatible with GalleyGrab, so maybe I chose wisely after all.

When you buy ebooks – now or in the future – what kind of price do you see yourself paying?

Maybe half the price that a physical copy of the book would cost.  If there was only a small difference in price, I would always choose to buy an actual book instead of an e-book.

What should an ebook's price point be comparable to? In my mind, I'm comparing it with a print book – and thinking it should be worth about half as much, because you can't get it autographed or pass it around as easily. My publisher compares it to a print book, too – but more favorably. He says the reader is buying the experience – not the product. So if the read is worth $10 to them, it's worth it for both print and electronic.

My publisher has priced Dead Politician Society at $10.99, which to me is too high. (Kindle and Nook both discount it, so it's available for $8.79, but even that seems high.) My gut says $4.99 is around the right price. What does your gut say?

$10.99 does seem pricey.  At that price I would just buy the actual book! For me, e-books aren't really keepers, you know. I like to book share and I like to see all the pretty covers on my book shelf.  You can't do that with e-books, so for me, they are a dispensible product. Use it once, and you're done.  I don't think I would pay more than  $6-7 for an e-book.

So my publisher, ECW Press, is fairly awesome. They're running this experiment: For one week, Tuesday December 7 to Monday December 13, Dead Politician Society will be $1.99 in iBooks, Kobo, and Kindle stores. I think that covers all machines – pretty sure Nook can read Kobo format, right?

What we'll learn from this experiment is who's right. If tons of books sell this week when the price drops to $1.99, we'll see that price does matter. If there's not much of a spike, then probably my publisher is right – price isn't a huge factor in ebook sales. I'm totally curious to see how this goes. I feel like I'm on the edge of a changing industry, learning and watching to see what happens.

I'm also asking for a call to action: If you agree with me that price is a prime factor in ebook purchasing, and $10 is too high for the industry to set the standard, buy Dead Politician Society for $1.99 this week. OR – if the title isn't for you, or if you're like me and don't have an e-reader but would consider buying one if new release prices were dramatically lower – help me by sharing a link to this challenge. The more people who see it, the louder our voice can be when we try to change my publisher's mind about ebook pricing in general.


I think this is definitely a worthy cause, and I'd love to hear some feedback. What do you think is the right price for e-books and what do you think about Robin's challenge to her publishers?

I'd recommend Dead Politician Society, and you can read my review to find out why. At the bargain price of $1.99 for the e-book, you can't really go wrong!


  1. I bought it, bought it, bought it! Thanks, Robin, and thank your publisher.

    $10.99 is way too high for an e-book, and the folks in Kindle Korner agree. Some would pay just about any price for a treasured author, more say they won't go higher than $9.99, but none of them would pay more than $5 or so for anything, and most balk at more than $2 or $3 for authors with whom they're unfamiliar.

    That sounds about right to me, too, though I can't see a publisher going below $3. Anything less wouldn't be worth producing! And pricing yourself too low makes people wonder if you're any good.

    Looking forward to reading my new book!!

    Marian Allen

  2. Yay! I hope you enjoy the book and thank you so much for helping me make this point heard to my publisher. I think it's such an exciting time in the book industry. Everything's changing, which is when our individual voices can actually make a difference.

    How are things going with Eel's Reverence?

  3. Just had to say its totally worth the purchase and a steal at $1.99!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  4. I've commented on this topic before and here's my opinion. I own a Kindle and if I see an e-book for $9.99, I won't buy it unless (a) they're a great friend or (b) I'm dying to read the book. That means for most debut authors, the price is too high.

    At $3.99 - $9.99, I'll debate for a long time. I may buy the book but most likely I'll wait for the price to drop. Why? Because I hate having to ask my husband for permission to buy ANOTHER book.

    From $0.99 to $2.99, I usually won't debate at all - I buy it. That mean I'm going to buy your book.

    I've read chapter one already but want to see what happens next.


  5. I have no idea about ebook readers. But $10.99 for an ebook does seem very overpriced.
    If I had to buy an ebook reader, I think I would go for Sony because its the only one I can get in my country without bankrupting myself haha

  6. @Misha - it's the same here! The choice of readers is limited and the Sony was by far the easiest and most economical. I can't figure out why Amazon makes it so difficult to buy the Kindle in Ireland. Really annoying!

  7. Thanks for these perspectives - and for the kind words from those of you who have read the book (or a chapter thereof)!

    Seems crazy that in this digital age, territory is still an issue. You would think it's one big Internet, one big world. Maybe once we've won this battle, we can take on the world of territorial selling rights :)


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