Tuesday, August 05, 2014

What price, eBooks?

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist

How much should eBooks cost? Is Amazon correct when it postulates that every eBook should be priced at $9.99 or less? Or are publishers correct in assuming that book sales hinge on many variables (such as book publicity, genre, subject matter, etc.), and numbers are impossible to predict based on price alone?

Can it be that, if all eBooks sold for $9.99, then -- all things (including book publicity and book marketing) being equal -- the only books with a competitive advantage would be those that cost less than $9.99? And would that mean the price of eBooks would fall until, finally, it cost more to sell an eBook than it would to just give it away (in the same way as you burn up more calories chewing celery sticks than you take in)?

Carolyn Kellogg, an LA Times staff writer covering books and publishing (@paperhaus at Twitter), muses about eBook pricing, and the veracity of Amazon's contention that "For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99." Click here to read it.

This book publicist's hunch is that the jury will be out on the best eBook pricing for years to come and, in the meantime, publishers and Amazon will be duking it out over who has the right to decide what eBooks should cost. The Amazon/Hatchette feud isn't going away anytime soon. Other pricing wars are just waiting in the wings.

There has never been a better time to be an independent publisher. And there has never been a more confusing time to be an independent publisher. Or, as a famous author once said, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."