10 Things to Consider when Pricing E-Books

September 16, 2011

by Stephen Blake Mettee, IBPA Board Chair, founder of Quill Driver Books and The Write Thought, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DROID by Motorola showing Kindle App

 

To reuse a couple of ‘graphs from my previous blog, “Book Pricing, Finding the Sweet Spot”:

One grand thing about e-books is, since there is no printing involved, once edited, designed, typeset, and formatted, the cost of an e-book is zero. Another is that the retail price a publisher sets can vary day to day.

But, with these two advantages, what does a publisher need to be concerned about when pricing an e-book? Vook, the innovative company that melds books with video, has issued a splendid white paper that goes a long way toward answering this question.

Here are Vook’s Golden Rules of Pricing annotated by yours truly:

1. Zero variable cost means it’s OK to significantly lower prices to maximize revenue.

Week to week—or even day to day—price changes are easy, as are limited-time specials.

2. Optimal pricing is highly content specific.

Business books may command a higher price than books on how to write.

3. Certain pricing thresholds trigger psychological “automatic” purchases.

Lower prices increase impulse buying.

4. Categorization has a large role in optimal pricing and discoverability.

A book that lists calories in popular packaged foods is likely to be found by readers more often if it is placed in the category of “Health Care and Fitness” rather than “Reference.”

5. Merchandising whole catalogs is more effective than single titles: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

The Write Thought publishes a catalog of writing titles under the Classic Wisdom on Writing series. It is our hope that we will see a synergistic effect on revenue because of this grouping.

6. Containers are critical to driving upsell in App environment.

My understanding of the term “container” as used here is the same as “series.”

7. Lift effects through savvy launch promotions have a profound impact on sales.

For instance, it is suggested that a publisher may wish, when launching a title, to place a low price on it for a period of a few days to a couple of weeks in an effort to get sales to a level that will be noticed by a retailer’s algorithms. Books that stand out sales-wise are used to populate “you may also like” recommendations generating additional sales creating a cyclical effect.

8. In general apps cannot support as high price points as eBooks.

Apple has begun declining apps that are effectively unenhanced e-books, referring publishers to the iBookstore. This basically leaves the android app market for plain Jane e-book Apps.

9. Real‐time sales tracking is necessary to adjust pricing in a dynamic eBook world.

Just like any data, you have to watch what’s happening and adjust accordingly.

10. For each retailer there are distinct best practices to maximize discoverability and revenues.

Pricing doesn’t need to be the same for each retailer. The sweet spot for an e-book in Apple’s iBookstore may be higher than the sweet spot for the same title in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

It’s a new world out there full of challenges and rewards. Sharpen your spear and forge forth.

Just a write thought.

2 responses to “10 Things to Consider when Pricing E-Books”

  1. […] General pricing advice for eBooks: http://ibpablog.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/10-things-to-consider-when-pricing-e-books/ […]

  2. Tom says:

    Great piece, thanks for putting that together.

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