E-Book Prices Fluctuate, and That’s a Good Thing

Pricing is important for e-books. Big publishers charge more, self-published authors charge less.

It will probably be that way for a while.

Big publishers have larger overhead and, at least for the foreseeable future, bigger-name authors whose works can command higher list prices. According to an article on  Digital Book World, which tracks sales of e-books, titles that are priced higher continue to sell better than those that are cheaper.  But the higher-priced books are those from writers such as Patricia Cornwell, Nora Roberts and John Grisham.

The average price for an e-book bestseller was $11.79 (up from $10.43 last week) – Patricia Cornwell’s newest book “The Bone Red” – is priced at $14.99, while John Grisham’s “The Racketeer” is $12.99.  Remember the $9.99 price point that ruled for a while? It’s still around – but there’s a lot more give and take.

This can work in favor of lesser-known authors who are just starting out, or those who are trying to capitalize on a backlist. If you’re just starting out, why not price your book to sell, to be an impulse buy, at $1.99 to $3.99? There are a lot of books that sell at this point. Even a book that’s around for a while can be priced relatively cheaply – the bestselling “The Hunger Games” is $8.99.

Lower-priced bestsellers include “Arctic Fire,” by Stephen W. Frey (published by Amazon, by the way), at $4.99, while even cheaper bestsellers include Laura Lippman’s “What the Dead Know,” at $1.99. The lists of bestsellers includes a lot of lesser-known names, as well as big ones such as Lippman and Frey.

How likely are you to see such a collection of relative newcomers and established authors as on e-book bestseller lists? Not in The New York Times. Not on Amazon. Not Publisher’s Weekly. But e-publishing allows for the breaking of barriers. Sure, these self-published books aren’t likely to get critical attention. But who cares? If they’re finding an audience, a writer is having an impact.

If you’re planning on releasing your book independently, consider pricing it below the big-name publishers. Start low – the point is to make your work available and to build your business, rather than to make money immediately off the sales of your book. As someone who is creating a platform to spread your message and attract readers, you know this.

While publishers are trying to hold onto whatever profits they can by pricing e-books from brand-name authors in the range of trade paperbacks, there’s still a lot of room for other lesser-known writers to have an impact. In the e-publishing world, you’ve got a better chance to be noticed, even if you’re not yet a household name.

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One Response to “E-Book Prices Fluctuate, and That’s a Good Thing”

  1. Brian Wilkerson October 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    Very helpful. Thanks for the advice

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