Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Suggested E-book Pricing by Dean Wesley Smith

As readers, we’ve been at this new phase of electronic reading now for going on two years, with regular readers now in the play instead of only early adaptors. This new trend of traditional publishing pricing is setting the price bar pretty firmly above $5.00 general level.
The lower prices are either because of length of the work and if a novel, an extreme lower price will often make readers more weary and cause the novel to jump through more hoops before bought. (Again, talking about regular book buyers, not writers or discount buyers.)
– There was (for a time) downward pressure on prices in electronic books in 2010-2011, but this trend has pretty well faded and now reversed (except at the high levels of pricing, meaning books above $15.99 still find a ton of resistance). A very vocal group of indie booksellers are keeping the pricing lower for some indie publishers. They confuse “sales” and “discounting” with original Suggested Retail Pricing.
But traditional publishers are holding the prices high and most readers (not all) are accepting that, when the price for the ebook is in a reasonable range. (Note: I said “reasonable range.” Very few ebook readers will pay above $15.99 for an ebook without the early-purchase premium on the book, meaning it’s just released from a favorite author. Studies have show that there is a very strong resistance above $12.95 price point.)
— All this is for what I call “normal readers.” A reader who would ONLY buy a book from a discount bin or cheaply at a used bookstore will disagree, of course, and love the 99 cent novel trend. But normal readers, the masses that are now starting to enter the electronic reading world are fine with paying a fair price. And if the price is reasonable, won’t even notice the price for the most part.

My Suggestions for Pricing in 2012

These ebook prices are slightly different than my earlier suggestions. And for ease of stating, I am using word count as markers. This is not always the case. Word count in some genres, such as young adult and early readers or fat fantasy, can vary. So these are only guidelines.
And only my opinion.
EBOOKS
Short Fiction (Under 3,000 words) $1.49
Short Fiction (3,000-6000 words) $1.99
Fiction (6,000-9,000 words) $2.99
Fiction (9,000 to 15,000 words) $3.49
Fiction (15,000 to 20,000 words) $3.99
Fiction (20,000 to 30,000 words) $4.99
Fiction (30,000 to 50,000 words) $5.99
Fiction (above 50,000 words if backlist) $6.99
Fiction (above 50,000 words if brand new) $7.99-$8.99 (maybe higher for a short time if attached to a paper book release.)
Those are my pricing suggestions here in early 2012 for ebooks. I think they would have been slightly off a year ago, slightly too high for the market back then. But now, as electronic reading goes into this new phase, out of the early adaptor phase, I think the above pricing is fair and following trends in publishing in general.
Every writer is different.
Every publisher is different.
You must decide what kind of publisher you want to be.
Remember, my opinions are based on my desire to be a long-term publisher, selling in all markets all over the world. Short term gains are nice, but not something I would spend much time chasing.
We shall see how these prices work over the next few years. I might be doing another pricing update a year from now. But I don’t think so.