Writer. Reader. Reviewer. Resource Maven.

Thursday’s Post-Publication Post: The Ebook is Coming, The Ebook is Coming

Next week, if all proceeds according to plan, Quiet Americans will begin its conversion into ebook format. Which is exciting and, I’ll admit, a bit unnerving (it’s not possible for me to approach any sort of change without at least some anxiety–that’s the only explanation I can give you).

We’ve had some discussions among the Last Light Studio (LLS) publisher and authors about ebook pricing, but I think it’s safe to say that we haven’t determined anything conclusive or across-the-board. In fact, part of the beauty of the LLS model is that each author has quite a bit of say in the pricing of her own book.

Which means that I’d love to hear from those of you with more ebook experience, whether you consider yourself primarily a reader, author, or publisher. What are your thoughts about ebook prices? How much is too much? Does any price ever strike you as perhaps “too little”? What differential do you expect to see between a print and ebook version? (Yes, I’ve read through a number of blog posts and articles on these matters, but I’m interested in what you have to say.)

Please don’t limit yourself to pricing matters if you have more to share. Feel free to comment with any tips you may have about ebook promotion or other relevant issues, too. Are there specific venues you trust specifically for their ebook reviews? Please tell me about them!

Quiet Americans and I thank you!

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10 Responses »

  1. I have no experience in this matter. I do, however, want to mention that I own a hard copy of Quiet Americans and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the characters and their stories.

  2. The following article from The Boston Review touches on e-book pricing; thought you might be interested if you haven’t read this: “Books After Amazon” http://www.bostonreview.net/BR35.6/roychoudhuri.php

  3. Welcome to the revolution, Erika! 🙂

    Even though I’m a full-fledged Kindle evangelist, I’m still a little divided between “dead-tree” books and ebooks. It’s probably nostalgia and habit that keep me fond of the former, and the technological advantages that persuade me to the latter (especially the built-in dictionary). There are certain attractions to “real” books, of course. Just yesterday, I was in the bookstore and I was looking at the new novel from Kate Mosse (“The Winter Ghosts”) and thinking how beautifully designed the book was (from the deckle-edged pages to the woodcut illustrations at the start of each chapter) and I said to myself, “This tactile reading experience just wouldn’t translate properly to an ebook.”

    As for pricing, I’ll admit I’m a cheapskate and like to purchase bargain books whenever possible (I know, I know, this is a horrible practice for me, an AUTHOR). But, I do think books are being devalued too much when we take ebooks all the way down to 99 cents. I subscribe to a couple of “free and cheap ebooks” newsletter, and the vibe I get from those blogsters is that readers are starting to expect to get books at the sub-dollar mark. I’ve even seen some readers get ticked off at authors and publishers when they price their books at the “outrageously high price” of $8.99 (which, to me, is still a little low). Then again, I expect there was much the same kind of conversation back in the mid-20th century when mass-market paperbacks started hitting the newsstands.

  4. Probably the world of nonfiction books, which I’ve written self-published through Lulu.com, is a bit different than the word of fiction books. But both my books, each geared to a fairly niche market, sell as eBooks at about, or maybe a little less, than half of the price at which they sell as traditional, hard-copy paperbacks. But I make noticeably more money per copy on eBooks compared to hard-copy books. So both the reader/purchaser, who pays less for the eBook, and the author (me), who earns more per copy on the eBook, are happiest with eBook sales/purchases. And it shows, because eBook sales — since I’ve made my books available in various formats — are rivaling if not surprising hard-copy sales.

  5. Um, in my previous post/response, that should be “written AND self-published” in the first line and and “SURPASSING hard-copy sales” in the last line. Not sure where my brain was.

  6. Erika, congrats! I’m glad to know that your amazing book will be available to an even wider audience.

    I began to learn a lot more about e-books (mostly Kindle) after my first publisher closed and the rights to Forgetting English reverted to me. So I was able to experiment with pricing — and even published a few stories as individual “books” — and have found that a lot of avid Kindle readers like cheap (really cheap) books. As David says above, it’s scary to see books devalued like this … but there’s also an upside to being able to set your own pricing.

    I’ve offered “sales” of Forgetting English’s Kindle version, pricing it at $.99 for a limited time — and there’s always been a nice spike in sales. But on the other hand, I sometimes imagine readers thinking, “How good can it be, at only 99 cents?” So I don’t leave it there for long! After a lot of changing around of the price, I’ve finally settled on $4.99, which, for me, is working pretty well. I think that staying under $9.99 is a very good idea — lots of Kindle readers don’t like to pay more than that.

    I’m not a terribly avid Kindle reader myself (though I do have one) — I’ve learned all this from getting on the Kindle reader forums and chatting with readers and asking what they think. They’re all so generous with their thoughts, and I’ve learned that most Kindle readers are open to trying out a book at $.99 — it’s just a no-brainer at that price! — but that because so many novels and full-length books sell for that or not much more, for them to buy a single story is not as likely; they’d have to be very, very interested in the material. So you might find it useful to join the discussion and see what people think.

    You might also connect with Jan Zlendich, an avid reader and Kindle blogger: (http://kindlereader.blogspot.com — in fact, today she kindly chose Forgetting English, at $4.99, as the Frugal Kindle pick of the day!).

    I hope this helps — good luck, and keep us posted!

  7. Thank you all for these comments. (Alicia, I hadn’t seen that article, and I recommend that others read it, too.)

    These comments tend to support my own thinking, or at least the questions I’m facing when it comes to pricing. It would be really hard to see my book priced at $.99 (and the sense of devaluation is only part of it–I’m also aware that sales at $.99 will make the “cut” I can give to The Blue Card, the nonprofit charitable organization I’m supporting with portions of book sale profit, amount to pennies–literally–per sale).

    We’ll definitely stay under $9.99–that much I think it’s safe to say. But time will tell how far below that threshold we’ll go.

    Midge, thank you for mentioning Jan Zlendich–and, everyone, Forgetting English is well worth buying!–and David, I’d be interested in knowing more about that newsletter you mentioned.

    Thank you again.

  8. Erika,

    No matter what the price, I’m confident Quiet Americans will do well in eSales. Best of luck!

    As for the “free and cheap ebook” sites I follow, here are a few:

    An Amazon discussion board on Discounted Kindle Books: http://tinyurl.com/4k4ajqp

    Kindle Review: http://ireaderreview.com/

    Free Library for Kindle: http://www.freenovelbooks-and-bargain.com/

    The quality of the books they link to varies in quality, but it’s always interesting for me to eavesdrop on the conversations about pricing, marketing, etc.

  9. Erika, I agree completely w/ David — Quiet Americans will do well!

    And David, thanks for posting these links — they look great!

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