Jul 26, 2011

E-Books: The Price is Right

I love watching the world of indie publishing these days, not only because I decided a little while back to join the fray, but because it’s still very much like the Wild West the way the internet was back in the early 1990s when standards and expectation were still being hashed out (and to a certain degree still are).  One big point of contention moving through news articles, forums and blogs recently is the debate over eBook pricing and the reason I bring this up is because of a great post by author Zoe Winters called “The 99 Cent Ghetto,” relating to electronic novels and what is a reasonable price to charge for one’s work.

In my opinion, pricing is still one of the unsettled frontiers of the new eBook Wild West.  Many will point to author John Locke’s sales of over one million eBooks on Kindle, each priced at 99 cents, as evidence that we all need to move to that kind of price model while others including author Dean Wesley Smith and Zoe Winters will argue eBooks are not and should not be commoditized by appealing to the bargain bin crowd.  What do I think?  Both sides of the aisle have something to offer and the fact that this is being hotly debated among established and newer writers means in some way (perhaps quickly, perhaps slowly) the market is beginning to move towards some sort of cobbled-together standard or pricing model for the exploding eBook market, although it may take a number of years before all the pieces land on the ground.

The system I prefer goes something like this and in my opinion offers (someone else may disagree) a potentially reasonable valuation of an author’s work.  Please note that this model so far appears to be a more likely scenario in the near future for the indie crowd than the New York crowd (given that the Big Six are not eager yet to lower the $10 price on many commercial eBooks).

Short Stories - $0.99 (Approximately 5,000 words, give or take some)
Novella/Shorter Novel - $2.99 (Approximately 30,000 words, give or take some)
Full-Length Novel - $4.99 (Approximately 80,000 words, give or take some)

Keep in mind that this is something I’ve pulled together from various articles, discussions and blog posts and is one I personally prefer.  It’ s a free market and every writer is free to charge how much they see fit, but I think we can all agree that having confidence in yourself in your work is very important and that’s what will help you determine where you think your writing should stand in the scheme of things.

What kind of prices do you usually pay or would you pay for an eBook?  What kinds of factors help you determine that price?