Pricing is one of the great enigmas in the eBook market. A huge amount of has been written, many pricing models and schemes have been tried and opinions are abundant. In all of this chatter there’s still not much clarity. As our client base continues to grow, Vearsa benefit from an increasingly reliable body of pricing knowledge. Being able to leverage the aggregate data to benefit the individual publisher gives us a warm fuzzy feeling that’s hard to beat!
Here are three things about eBook pricing that we think are exceptionally useful for publishers. Note that these tips are derived from hard evidence, as well as personal experience.
Optimal pricing of eBooks varies by country.
Obvious I know but although most publishers are aware of this not many are actually doing anything tangible about it. In the UK, for instance, for many genres the best price point is just under £5 (about $7.50). In the US for the same genres the best price point is just under $10. We see these price points standing out through our analytics and it was backed up in research conducted by Rachel Willmer, which she wrote about in a TechCrunch article on January 15 of this year.
Should we make a distinction between self-published eBooks and others? Blogger Molly Greene has done surveys of indy authors that indicate the sweet spot for indy books in the US 2013 was between $2.99 and $6.99. Pricing somewhere in this bracket generated the greatest volume and best net revenue. Obviously the figures vary significantly from genre to genre, but it does appear that the self-published market is more comfortable with a ‘lower’ price point.
It may seem counter intuitive, but avid eBook readers are more sensitive to price than are occasional readers.
We believe this is because avid readers have a long list of titles that they want to read. They routinely look for discounts and promotions, and given how many there are at any one time, avid readers usually find at least one of their titles on sale. Occasional readers, on the other hand, tend to have one, specific title that they want to read. They see a review or are recommended a book by someone, and they go get the eBook. They prefer not to wait until that title is discounted, nor do they want to spend their time searching out the lowest price. They just purchase the book they want for the asking price. This has an obvious impact on series and on some genres like erotica.
Publishers who are willing to experiment with price can sometimes inject new life into an older title.
For example, last year Random House reduced the eBook price of Rob Reid’s novel Year Zero to $.99. The response was so great that the book ended up on the bestseller list of the New York Times, quite a feat for a title that had been out for over a year. Similarly, in 2012 HarperCollins began selling Paul Coelho’s inspirational titles for $.99. They too experienced a massive jump in sales.
At Vearsa we always recommend price experimentation with the bottom 20% of your list. The titles languishing at the bottom of your volume and value lists each month. Why not? Isn’t it better to generate some sales per month at a low value than no sales at a higher value? The benefit is twofold:
1. Extra sales
2. Learnings to apply to the rest of your list.
As more publishers experiment with pricing, we will see additional examples of the ways that different strategies influence the behavior of different customer groups. This type of experimentation is essential if the publishing industry is to move forward by providing a new generation of consumers with the type of products and service they demand.
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