Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Why My Books are Inexpensive

I'm not a wealthy woman.  I'm not even close.  Never have been.  Even when my husband was making good money, we were penny-pinchers because we knew that saving every penny we could would get us out there that much sooner.  Back then, I sold used books online to fund my book-buying addiction, but now, I live too far from the post office to make that a reasonable way to earn extra cash.  I keep the reins on my current book budget tight.  I have to. 

And I expect that the majority of readers out there are feeling the pinch, too.

Every once in a while, I'll see an impromptu survey on FB asking how much people are willing to spend on an ebook.  The results are usually around $3.99 with the occasional dip into high priced ebooks if it's an author or a series the reader really loves. 

My books are all $2.99.  Why?  Since I'm self-published, I can set whatever price I want to.  I could set them at what I think they're worth.  I could set them at what it costs me to put them out.  But who wants to pay that exorbitant amount?  LOL

I set them all at $2.99 because I don't want to feel like a hypocrite.  If I can't afford to buy a book higher than $2.99, how could I possibly expect readers to pay more for my books? 

Sure, if I sold them for more, I might be able to afford to buy higher priced books...  But it doesn't work that way. Since $2.99 also seems to be what the market will bear, setting the price higher will actually net me less money in the long run.  (Ask traditional publishing how that whole $9.99+ ebook strategy is working out for them.  Last I heard, they were crying that sales were down across the board.)

I read something the other day where a writer was basically damning Amazon for creating the push for cheap books.  And for sales sucking.  And indie authors are the culprits, too, because we're willing to make beans and driving the prices down...  Yeah, yeah.  Again, the market pretty much tells businesses what they are willing to pay.  And my market is telling me they want inexpensive reading material.

Of course, some of the same people who are demanding cheaper books are also damning cheaper books as being of lower quality, but that's a rant for another day. 

My point is, I set the price for all my books where I think people will be able to afford to buy them.  If you bought every one of my ebooks right now, you'd pay $20.93 for SEVEN books.  As opposed to the traditional publishing low-low price of $9.99 x 7 = $69.93.  You could buy all my books and take your spouse out to dinner for that amount.  Or pay part of the electric bill.  Or get your kids some new shoes.  (At Payless, but still.)

Jus' sayin'.

And, yes, the above only applies to ebooks.  I have to charge more for print because it costs more to produce them.  (Funny how that works, ain't it?)  And I have to be above a certain amount or I would end up owing Createspace money instead of making a little.  (Especially on their 'extended distribution'... but don't get me started on that.) 

So, there it is in a fruit cup.  I still hope to make money selling low-priced novels.  Volume is the key there.  Sell loads of books and then I won't have to worry if I'm making beans on each one.  I still won't be rich, but I'd like for this self-publishing venture to someday fund itself.  That'd be awesome.

What's the average amount you pay for books?  What's the most you'll pay for a book? Why?


  1. I haven't gone over £3.50 yet for a book, at least I don't think so. If I was in town shopping or out at an event, I'd pay that for a cup of coffee that's gone in 10 minutes, so I don't mind spending the money on a book cos I get to read it over & over. If I was going to spend a tenner on a book, I'd want something gold plated I could hold in my hands and treasure forever!

    I just can't spend that much any more. I used to spend a lot of money buying second hand books from ebay, but shipping costs & lack of storage space (I've already got 7 packed bookcases) have put the kybosh on that.

    On the whole, I like your theory very much.

    1. You're my kind of people, Fran. And I'm so glad you choose to read my books. Thanks for spending your hard-earned money with me. =o)

  2. Before I start let me begin with I appreciate and even understand your take but I disagree somewhat.

    I think an ebook should be about half of what the print costs and just as you say that is determined by the cost of printing shipping and the price retailers take for their cut. Generally speaking that leaves ebooks in the $5.99 to $9.99 range if the print version is only in hardcover.

    I agree price is set by consumers but in a world where people will pay $5 for a cup of coffee that will be gone in mere minutes, or a really bad combo meal at a fast food that again will not last anytime at all, I do not think it is unreasonable for a book that brings hours of entertainment to be $5 or more. And they can have it to reread or often share. I do think we collectively, as writers, have created the idea our time and work is only worth a few dollars. I know in volume that can be made up but I just go back to what you are getting in comparison to other goods and entertainment services for your buck.

  3. One last thing... above you see two comments. One is from a reader. The other is from a writer. I think that's my point right there. Perhaps I'll do a follow-up. Perhaps not. Stay tuned.