What is the right price for a Kindle book?

This question was brought into focus for me recently.  I meet with a group of friends (20 -25 of us) once a month over a meal and a few glasses of wine.  And of course one of the things I get asked is ‘how’s the writing, sold another book yet?’ cue good natured banter.  I of course reply by admonishing those who haven’t had the good grace to buy and read my books.  This time, however, someone asked how much it was.  ‘The equivalent of $2.99,’ I said and explained the vagaries of Amazon’s pricing that sees us authors getting 30% not 70% of the sales price if we go below that.  In the UK with VAT (which now has to be included) that is £2.23.frenchcafe

The comment was then ‘That’s a lot’.  I admit this hit me hard.  I asked what they thought a fair price would be, which produced a series of shrugs while one kind person added that most books on the high street are £5.00 – £6.00.  It seemed to me that by pricing at $2.99 the assumption was that my kindle book was of a lesser quality, not a ‘real book’ and therefore even at $2.99 it was overpriced.  Strange logic I know, but there you are.  I of course countered that this is less than a coffee on the high street and less than the price of a drink in a bar.  Also what else can you give you so much value and entertainment for just over £2.00?  Now I may not be a J K Rowling but the time and effort that goes into my books is on a similar level.  In the end they all agreed, although I don’t think they have all then rushed out and bought them.

But it does beg the question what is the right price for a self-published/Kindle book (or any other e-book for that matter)?  I did some price research when I launched my first two books, but in the end settled at that $2.99 level because it was the lowest price with a 70% return and I considered getting about $2.00 for each book sold a reasonable return.  Looking at Kindle prices I suspect many other self-publishing authors do the same.  But if I’m honest there’s no real ‘pricing logic’ behind that decision.  But how do you select a price?

A thought I did have at the time is, it is low enough that people might take a chance on an unknown author.  Also, personally, I feel $0.99 says you don’t think much of your own work, unless it’s clear that that is an ‘offer’ price.

Young man readingI know from a few years I spent in marketing that the value of a commodity often has little to do with what it costs to produce, it’s what people are prepared to pay, it is the ‘perceived value’.

So is the perceived value of a self-publishing author’s work less than someone well known and marketed through a traditional publishing house?  It would seem so.  Although recently even popular books from publishing houses are offered at discount prices or even free if they’re trying to get you interested in a series.  So for my new book I guess I’ll be starting at that $2.99 again unless I can find a compelling argument for something different.

As always, comments, thoughts and ideas are welcome.

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

11 thoughts on “What is the right price for a Kindle book?”

  1. You charge what you can charge. Got a first book from an unknown with no audience $2.99 might be too high. Different books of mine go for different prices but #2 and #3 in the series definitely sell for more than #1 – after #1 has made a name for itself. With prudent marketing all things are possible. Tinker with your pricing. You’ll find the sweet spot. Good luck.

    1. Thanks for the comment and the advice. Later in the year I’ll be publishing 2 and 3 of a series. The I’ll probably give 1 away free for a while.

  2. Speaking as a clueless outsider. I abandoned my ereader when I found that popular books were hardly any cheaper than a paper version which I preferred. However, you are right; if an ebook is too cheap I would think the content is cheap unless of course, I want mills and boon type content, some styles of writing in magazines etc is very cheap for the effort put in (I don’t read that stuff). One thing I hoped to find on ereaders was cheaper, shorter books, novellas I suppose as I don’t have time to read long stuff or my time is broken up with life. If a book is shorter, you might feel it is fine to be cheap. If 2.99 is a kind of minimum, I would put myself little a bit above that personally, because good authors probably have a bit of an ego! Could you do a short introductory book, cheap and dearer more fullsome stuff once people are into it? I have no clue and am just putting off cleaning so bye for now.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Funnily enough when I launch my new book I will have a 10,000 prequel to give away. But also I’ll have a book of short stories including the prequel for $0.99 with aim of getting people interested.

    1. Thanks for this. As I say on facebook I like the idea of discounting the books in rotation, something I might try.

  3. I have tried all prices for my 4 books in my series. I’ve heard recently if you price your books too low, readers feel the value will be poor. So, for now I’ve got all mine on Kindle unlimited, which is free if a reader has joined this. If not, my price is $4.99 for the 1st 3, and $5.99 for the last and most recent of the series. My reasoning is that if one can have a choice of many books for their monthly rate, then they will chose books priced higher. I will be paid royalties proportionate to what they read. We shall see if this theory works best.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I’d be interested to know how this works out. As for chose or choose, I know the feeling. I proof read my blogs a number of times but some weeks errors still sneak through.

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