You may or may not be aware that Julia Quinn will be selling novellas or what she has termed “2nd Epilogues” to her famed Bridgerton series. These novellas are an ebook exclusive and can be purchased for $1.99. It is unclear to me whether these novellas are serial in nature and will build upon each other or whether they are stand alones.
Putting aside any general dislike for epilogues, let alone second epilogues, (I’m thinking Jennifer Crusie who put in Bet Me a last chapter which she adamantly stated was not an epilogue but read suspiciously like one), I wanted to explore the whole idea of the goal behind Harper Collins selling these second epilogues and the price point.
It is possible that there is nothing more going on here than Harper Collins trying to capitalize on a popular author’s marketability? After all, according to Publisher’s Weekly, Julia Quinn’s last book had a print run of 800,000. Yeah, I did not cough up an extra 0 there.
I wouldn’t have thought much about this beyond the fact that HarperCollins sees a great cash opportunity here. No printing costs, no supply costs, low distribution costs – the margins on the ebook ovella must be huge. Doing the simple math, HC is looking for readers to pay $16.00 for 240 pages. That’s an expensive trade or a not very expensive hardcover. Maybe Julia Quinn’s next book (after the 8th Bridgerton novel) will be hardcover and maybe the price point is easing us into the water that way.
But JQ made some interesting comments re: marketing at Sybil’s blog.
So yes, Avon is using the 2nd Epilogues to reach out to the e-reading public. I personally think that’s great. Maybe we’ll convert some people to historical romance.
I certainly can’t imagine anyone who hasn’t read my work before wanting to read one of the 2nd Epilogues. When I was writing them, in fact, I made no attempt to give backstory or explain who the characters were, which I’d have to do if I were trying to entice new readers with them. This was something I did for my current readers
The “reaching out” to e-readers is offering them the 2nd Epilogues for free with the purchase of regular ebooks—offering bonus content to entice e-readers who might not have tried my books or maybe even romance at all.
However, they are aware that there may be, and probably is, a large untapped market of potential readers who are more likely to buy ebooks than print. So while the 2nd epilogues were originally conceived as short stories to be sold independently to my current readers, it was thought that they could also be used as a bonus to entice ereaders to the romance genre. One thing I know that Avon is interested is seeing how people choose to buy them—alone, as a duo (with a fifty cent savings) or as a part of a bundle.
So the marketing ploy is to get people who read ebooks and but not romances to buy these “2nd epilogues” and then be hooked on romances? Ebook readers who read romance are not a separate set of readers. They are a subset of romance readers. I can’t envision who the market is that they are trying to capture other than Bridgerton fans. An ereader curious about the romance market is not likely to buy a $1.99 epilogue to a book that they have never read before in a genre they have not read before. In fact, this type of book would likely turn an ereader away from the romance genre as the author herself has told us that there is no backstory to these characters. She assumes you know them.
I can’t help but wonder if HarperCollins is testing out a) serialization of romance books or b) companion pieces to existing books. As I joked over at Bam’s blog in replying to the Spoiler Trail rant relating to Eloisa James’ book Taming of the Duke, that maybe next book Avon will release an ebook exclusive: How to Decipher the Duke’s Book, a Companion Guide to Unraveling the Shakespearean Inspired Romantic Comedies of Best Selling Author Eloisa James for only $2.99. Followed closely by, ebook publication of Merchant of Vauxhall, sold in serialization, only $1.00 per chapter.