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What’s the right price of a book for you?

Money

Amazon has been emailing its digital buyers that there will be a refund forthcoming due to the agency pricing settlement.  According to the email, a purchaser will get about $3.07 for any bestseller and $.97 for any other book sold during the period of 2010 and 2012-13, depending on the date of the publisher settlement. My first thought was what books will I buy with my refund.  The second thought came about when I saw an author tweet that s/he wasn’t going to accept the offer because s/he believed books were worth more money.

Digital BookWorld keeps track of the average price of a bestseller and at the end of August, the average price had reached an all time low of $6.33.  According to a May report by Mark Coker at Smashwords, two of the most popular price points are 99c and $2.99.  From the years on this blog, I’ve observed three main pricing activities.

1)  99c = I’ll buy you but I’m in no hurry to read you.  There’s no question that 99c will result in sales but how many people are reading it? The number of average reviews for books at Amazon has increased since Amazon ends each book with a reminder to rate a book before you leave.  When a book is launched, you can almost see the velocity in reading by the number of reviews the book accumulates in 24 hour period.  Reviews mean books have been read, in my opinion.

Authors have formed coops to bundle books together and price them at 99c.  A bundle headlined by Elisabeth Naughton featured 10 books for 99c and sold so many copies it was listed as the No. 2 NYTimes bestseller on the digital list.  The E. Naughton bundle in the number 2 position on the NYTimes list has 48 reviews as of the date of this post.  Rachel Van Dyken’s book, Ruin, has 418 reviews (and was released a week earlier).  Both books are 99c.  It could be that many people are reaching the end of the Naughton bundle and thus not getting the prompt, but my guess is that a number of people are buying the bundle at 99c but not necessarily reading it.

99c books are the foundation for the tragically forgotten book pile.

2) $1.99 is a dead zone.   There are very few books priced at $1.99 unless that is a sale price, ordinarily by mainstream publishers. I have a couple of theories on this.  $1.99 generates the same lower royalty to authors (30% versus 70%) but it doesn’t move as many books as 99c and therefore it isn’t as as an attractive discount rate.  Mark Coker notes that any price between .99 and $2.99 results in a decline of sales until you reach the $5.00 mark.   I also think $1.99, when it is not a sale price, might signal reduced length content such as a novella or short story.  For whatever reason, $1.99 pricing appears rare.

3) $2.99 – $4.99 is the “I’ll try you even though I’m unsure whether I’ll love it.”  I think this is the discovery price range.  In this price range, most people won’t flinch at trying a new book or a new to them author, particularly when it is recommended to them by another source, but not necessarily a trusted one.  At this price, a cover or blurb can move you to buy or a marginally good review.

4) $5.00 to $7.99 is the “I’ve read you before and enjoyed what I’ve read.”  This price range is reserved for authors you’ve enjoyed in the past and figure you’ll be entertained for a few hours. At this point, though, you aren’t taking much risks.  You aren’t likely to take a chance on a new to you author unless the recommendation comes from a trusted choice.  Further, it might take more than one recommendation.

5) $8.99 and up is the “I’ve read you before and I love you.” At this price, you are foregoing purchasing at least one other book, if not more.  John Locke once famously said that at $9.99 other authors have to be nine times as good as his 99c book.  At $8.99 and above, you’ve made the decision that this book is more valuable to you and will be more entertaining than a slew of lesser priced books.  This is the price at which the dedicated fan group buys.  The larger the dedicated fan group, the higher price point you can charge.  Publishers know this which is why some authors are moved to hardcover after several books selling through at a solid rate in mass market.

Does this price list coincide with your buying habits?  I’d love to know.  Share with me in the comments.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

84 Comments

  1. library addict
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 04:29:18

    99c = I probably won’t buy I’ve been burned too many times with 99c books with poor formatting, editing, etc. So unless the 99¢ is an actual (as in temporary) sale price, I probably won’t even look at the blurb. I may make an exception if a trusted reading friend recommended something.

    $1.99 = novella This seems to be the price many publishers and self-pubbed authors like for novellas. I’ll pay this for a novella for an author I like. And I’m willing to try new-to-me authors at this price point, even in novella form. Much more willing than at 99¢.

    $2.99 to $4.99 = I agree with everything Jane said about this price point
    $5.00 to $7.99 = I agree with everything Jane said about this price point, too
    $8.99 and up = ditto to what Jane said again
    with the caveat that I would probably wait for a coupon now that agency pricing is gone (though still waiting for Sony to allow more coupons as well as Penguin to be discount eligible at places other than Kobo). Actually anything over $6 I would probably try for a coupon nowadays unless it was a favorite author and I wanted to read it right away.

    One more thing, regardless of price, I don’t read books which are Kindle only. I understand why some authors choose to go that route, but even though I could convert to ePub that often seems like more trouble than it’s worth.

  2. Windwalker
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 04:49:09

    Actually many online authors have the first or first and second books in series at either free or in the .99-2.99 range. I typically look at the rating and if its a first book in a series. I have gotten several new series started this way.

  3. msaggie
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 05:08:32

    Jane, your analysis is spot on with my buying habits. I have many “impulse buy” $0.99-2.99 books which I still have not read. And I have bought kindle books of authors/series I am following for $11.99-12.99 (which are coming out first in hardcover) and not regretted it at all (dedicated fan indeed) – examples of this are Nalini Singh’s Kiss of Snow, C.S. Harris’ Sebastian St Cyr books, and Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books. In fact, I paid even more ($15) for the e-ARC of Lois Mcmaster Bujold’s Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance about 6 months before the hardcover came out (Baen makes the e-ARCs available). Alas, next year my wallet will feel the pain of having to pay more for the latest Kate Daniels as Ilona Andrews is moving to hardcover too. And you are right – Ilona and Gordon blogged that the publishers pushed for it after their sales hit a threshold figure. So, the more successful the author, the more the publishers want to earn as much as possible from us readers.

  4. Kaetrin
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 05:23:32

    I think your analysis is pretty accurate for me Jane, with the possible exception that I think the “forgotten book” pile is fairly evenly spread across the price points for me. And I pretty much only try a new author with some kind of recommendation at any price.

    I bought the new Tammara Webber for nearly $9 but I waited until I had a 50% kobo coupon today to buy Down London Road (even though I have read and enjoyed the first book and the second had been recommended), so I could pick it up for under $5.

    I think you’re right about $2.99 being a magic number though. I hesitate over more expensive books but at that price point I’m most often clicking “buy”.

  5. Elaine
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 06:04:06

    I’ve stopped buying $.99 books unless it is a first book by a new author who has other I want to try, or it is a temporary reduction. I won’t spend more than $3 on a novella, whether or not I like the author. Other than that, I tend to follow your observations.

    However, even with must buy authors, since we have a fabulous local library system, I tend to get holds on new hardcovers, and wait for either the lower Kindle price or the mmpb.

    I’ve recently started using my library’s Overdrive system for new-to-me authors. Although it is a little clunky at times, between my iPad and my Kindle (E-ink) I am able to read everything they have since I discovered the IOS app for Overdrive. Before I always seemed to find a book that interested me and then found it didn’t have a Kindle format.

  6. Ana
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 06:20:32

    2.99 to 3.99 is my buying sweet spot. I love picking up more expensive books on sale but I rarely buy books priced higher $5. The exceptions are authors I know I adore and I am waiting for another book in a series (Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, Julie James and Meljean Brooks). The rest I wait on or thank my lucky stars that their regular price points are under $5.

  7. Carolyne
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 07:08:16

    The number of average reviews for books at Amazon has increased since Amazon ends each book with a reminder to rate a book before you leave.

    Since you mention it… I have to tell yet more people how hard I hate that “feature.” It almost always butts in just at the moment I know the book is over, ruining what should be the satisfying pause after a story. I cringe near the end of every Amazon-purchased eBook, wondering if I’m at the end, or whether there’s an epilogue, or whether my screen’s going to be hijacked. Often it wipes away the “About the Author” with its marketing wail. If it were just a panel or banner or whatnot at the bottom of the page it wouldn’t be such an assault. I’d guess that authors love it, since it motivates people to review right away (when it works properly), but, ugh. Just ugh.

    I’m more cautious now and can usually avoid accidentally swiping to the “Amazon will now take over this book” screen. But it caught me the other day while I was trying to read a rather witty author bio, and I’m all fired up again. I think stories should have swirly-font “The End”s at the end so we can tell when digital books are done :)

    For pricing…

    99c and $1.99 are my impulse-buy zones, for novels or novellas (smaller time investment, easier to read on impulse). I’ll give an unknown a try at this price, or someone who looks good based on blurb alone. I have a long commute, so I have a chance to read my impulse buys. If I finish it (and I’m not turned off by Amazon jumping in my face :) ) I usually write a review, for good or bad.

    99c bundles – I avoid the cheap bundles. They turn me off for reasons I may not be able to quantify. They look…cheap? Desperate? I know I’ll never read everything in the bundle?

    $2.99 – Nope. Not for impulse buying, that is. This is “if I don’t know for sure whether I’ll like this, I’m not paying that.” It’s a little bit too high for the risk. I always pass by the $2.99 deals mentioned here, though on reflection, it’s a price I’m very comfortable with when buying a “trusted” publisher’s website. Also, I won’t spend $2.99 to pick up a digital copy for a reread of something I’ve already read. Feels like too much.

    Above – For an author I like, I don’t think I have a maximum. But anything approaching the cost of a hardcover, and I’ll buy a print copy instead. Ditto for books I’d like to share–whatever the price. For nonfiction reference I need right away, I’ll also pay whatever the cost, but that’s a different sort of thing.

    $8.99 and up – See above. But! For an author I love so much I couldn’t wait for the print book to arrive, I grabbed a “high” priced digital copy to read and have RIGHT NOW. For my top authors, I’ll spend. For this author I used to pay $45+ to get a signed copy shipped in before the local edition was available, so getting an extra digital copy is still a bargain from my perspective. But there aren’t a lot of authors I’d do this for. There may actually only be the one.

  8. Rosie
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 07:34:05

    I find that the $1.99 price point is the one I’m most likely to one-click. Maybe that’s because it’s the one the short-term discounts are priced at. If I know that book won’t be on sale tomorrow or next week, I’m more likely to buy now while the gettin’s good.
    Sort of related (as it pertains to ebooks), I noticed that Random House and Penguin books are not for sale in the Kindle store this morning. Don’t know if it’s just a temporary glitch or if something’s going on there.

  9. Michelle
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 07:40:24

    One thing about the $.99 books. For a favorite book that I already have as a paperback/hardback, if the ebook is priced at $.99 I will pick up another copy for convenience. Priced higher than 1.99 and I will pass (for duplicates).

  10. Liz H.
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 07:56:43

    The only thing that I would add is that format and DRM factor heavily into my price categories. Although the above is accurate for non-DRM, for DRM I would probably shift each category down. In addition, for the $8.99+ category I will usually buy the physical copy and wait for the digital to go on sale at a much lower price point.

  11. Avierra
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 08:00:05

    1) 99-$1.99 is where I will try authors I have never read before. I don’t have many expectations at this price point. I do read these books.

    2) $2.99 – $4.99 is “I have read you before and loved it.” This is my sweet spot for buying books. The higher the price-point, the more I consider whether or not I really need or want the book. If an author has a new book out that is not part of a series, or is the beginning of one, I will buy it in this price range.

    3) $5.00 to $7.99 is “I am waffling hard on buying this, and if I am disappointed by the book, I will not buy any others. ” This is where I will pay more for part of a series I have enjoyed. If I do not like the latest book, I will not continue to shell out in this price point.

    4) $8.99 and up is “I don’t care who you are or what you have written, I will never, ever pay this price for a non-textbook ebook.”

  12. Kristine
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 08:19:32

    Agree with everything you said about $2.99 and up. If it’s not free, though, I download a sample onto my Kindle before I buy; I don’t buy new authors sight unseen anymore. If the sample is clean, and interesting, and at the end I am desperate to know more, I will easily drop up to $3 without thinking…more than that, and it goes on my wishlist. Samples and freebies are my slush pile; I download them without thinking much about it, and read them when I’m kind of between things I desperately want to read.

  13. Kristen A.
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 09:00:13

    I only buy books from authors that I already know and am inclined to expect to love, period. Trying new things is what libraries are for. If I’m going to make an exception, it will be less based on the price of the book and more about a review from a trusted source (like this site) that convinces me it’s absolutely perfect for me combined with a complete lack of library availability. In that case, anything from mass market paperback price downward is acceptable.

  14. Sandra
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 09:06:13

    I’ve got fewer price points. Basically if it’s $1.99 or less and sounds interesting, I’ll probably add it to the TFB pile. If it’s by someone I’ve read before and like, I’ll pay up to MMPB price, and usually read right away. I will pre-order books in this category, especially for my auto-buy authors. If it’s more than $7.99, I won’t buy, I don’t care who the author is or how much I like them. I wait for the price to drop. $2.99 is my cap for novellas for someone I’ve read, otherwise its $1.99. I tend not to buy anthologies (see >$7.99 above), but wait for the authors I want to publish individually.

    For the past couple of years I’ve been exclusively e-book (ePub only) for fiction. I’m spending a lot more now than when I was buying paper, mostly due to the wider selection and ease of purchase. These are all new buys. I don’t usually replace/supplement paper books unless it’s a really good deal, or something I really, really like and re-read often.

    I take a lot of chances at the low end, but find myself thinking a lot more about purchases at the upper end, when they would have been no-brainers in paper three years ago. $.99 is less than I pay for coffee in the morning, but $7.99 is lunch. So my purchasing has skewed away from the big NY houses to smaller e-pub houses. Self-pubs, I do my due diligence. It may be the greatest book in the world, but if it’s poorly edited I won’t buy, even freebies that’ll languish in the TFB pile.

  15. Lisa J
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 09:15:07

    @Avierra: I have to agree with Avierra on this one. My book buying habits definitely fall under this buying principal, with the exception of Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changelings and then I pay whatever I have to to get the book.

  16. Nicci August
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 09:35:42

    I agree with Avierra, but unlike Lisa J, I have no authors that I enjoy so much that I’ll pay more than $8.99 for an ebook. If there’s a book which strongly tempts me to pay more, I make a note and wait for the price to come down (usually after the author releases their next book), and I purchase it then.

  17. Karin Anderson
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 09:44:18

    I tend to agree with one small additional note – I don’t really read ebooks unless I receive them from an author/publisher with the specific intent of writing a review. I read in print or listen to the Audiobooks. Now that Audible and Amazon have the Whispersync for Voice program, I buy the ebook so that I can get the Audiobook for a bit cheaper. $8.99 instead of $29.99 is a fantastic deal.

  18. Sandy James
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:00:05

    Some good advice, Jane.

    I went with 99 cents for my Turning Thirty-Twelve because I hoped it would attract attention. It was originally released by a small publisher better known for erotic/menage. While it did “okay”–winning some important contests, etc…–it never sold as well as I would have liked. Now that I have the rights back, I consider any sale a bonus. I’d hoped 99 cents might encourage a few people to take a chance and hopefully find a new author.

    On the other hand, at that price I risk people like “library addict” thinking it must be crap since it’s priced so low. My book isn’t, but I imagine a lot of authors who price their story at that “magic” price think the same thing. I know of more than one author who crank out novellas and price them for 99 cents who really care little for the quality of their products.

    I think buyers are getting savvy where discounted books are concerned. I also think publishers are noticing everything you said about pricing. My Feb. Grand Central release is up at only $2.99. I didn’t realize the bigger publishers priced their ebooks that low. Perhaps they’re finally catching on…

    Thanks for the information, Jane! I’ll try to put it to good use!!

  19. Lori Toland
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:06:31

    My book buying habits:

    Free – doesn’t matter who it is, I’ll pick it up and if I’ve heard of you, I’ll read it right away. I always read short stories in this category.

    99c – If I like the blurb and it sounds like a trope I’ll like, then I’ll pick it up. And I almost always read it right away, unless I lose it on my Kindle. When I find it, it’s like Christmas.

    $1.99 – if it’s by an author I like, I buy it.

    $2.99-$7.99 – You have to be an author I know and like. I’ll take a chance on new authors too but I’ll read the blurb first.

    Above this price point, no. My husband does, but I don’t.

    As an author with a recently released 99c book, I priced this book based on my own book buying habits. I also priced my book at 99c for a couple reasons.

    1. It’s a re-release. It was my first book that I ever wrote. I’ve since edited and revised it since I received my rights back for the series but I want to give my fans a chance to get the book at a very low price.

    2. It’s the first book in the series. I’ll raise the price in October to $2.99 and I suspect fans of my other books will buy it. I may lower the price in the future when the other books come out.

  20. Diane P
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:19:45

    I have gotten so used to buying at the $2.99 and below price that I get sticker shock for some of the higher priced books. I have had pretty good success at finding new authors or the first in the series at that price.(I use Book Gorilla for deals.) I have bought quite a few bundles & like them. 98% of my reading is e-reading, so I do get seriously ticked when I see digital priced higher that books. Look at the Berkeley mysteries. I have to really love an author to buy at the $8.99 & up price-usually I would have bought their hardback.

  21. Diane P
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:20:40

    @Sandy James: At $.99 I will try your book.

  22. Monique D
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:23:10

    Yep, spot on for me as well; good analysis.

  23. Brianne
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:25:00

    I tend to pick up anything that sounds good and is free. My opinion is that I can always not finish it if I don’t like and I have not lost anything. While I agree with Jane on most of the opinions for the price points, I don’t tend to follow them because I am on a strict budget. I get a lot of the major publishers and popular titles from the library. I am lucky to have a very strong public library in my town and many of the other libraries in the county have great romance sections. I sometimes have to wait, but if not for that I would not have read some series such as the Kate Daniels, early In death, Virgin River and Kowalskis. I tend to spend on the books the library doesn’t carry – mostly categories. In the case of those, I get the best deal I can, sometimes at the big box stores if I have coupons or from the publisher when they run sales and sometimes in e-book.

    I only am willing to pay full price for authors I love and will read their work over and over, whether in print or in e-book

  24. Sandy James
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:39:58

    @Diane P:
    That would be awesome! Glad to know that price will work to bring a few new readers my way. I suppose I’m cocky enough to hope that once you read one, you’ll want to read more!!

    Jane…you didn’t mention bundles. What do you think about pricing for bundles???

  25. Jane
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:41:27

    @Sandy James: I don’t really buy bundles unless they are 99c and then I’ve never read one. But I think I’ve bought like 10 of them.

  26. Sandy James
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:43:59

    @Jane:

    Interesting. I’ve seen some big price swings on bundles–anything from 99 cents to ten bucks. I haven’t bought any yet, but I wanted your opinion. They just seem to be getting more and more common. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who goes a little crazy with her Kindle and buys stuff she might never have time to read. :D

  27. Lynn M
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:45:09

    This is such an interesting topic – I’m enjoying the comments.

    My strategy is as follows:
    99c – these are my freebies, in that as long as I like the blurb and/or it gets a handful of good reviews, I’ll buy these without thinking too hard. They may get dumped on the TFB pile, but at least if/when I do read them and find them bad and they become DNFs, I have zero guilt.

    $1.99-$2.99 – will also entice me to try new-to-me authors, and I usually feel like I’m getting a bargain. I love when first books in a series go on sale for this price because I finally feel compelled to see if it’s a series I’ll love.

    $3.99 – at the edge of what I’ll pay for a new-to-me author. Book would have to be getting rave reviews. But for authors that I know and love, this is a shoo-in price. Less than a mass market paperback or even a grande latte at Starbucks, I can justify it in my head.

    $5.99-$7.99 – I’ll start considering buying the paper copy, especially if I can find it used for $.99 plus shipping, which is still less than $6.

    $8.99 plus – would have to be a title I’m just dying to read and can’t wait for, otherwise I’d go with a paper copy. The only exception is when a book comes out in hardcover – I’d rather pay this price for an e-version so I don’t have the bulk. Again, though, only for favorites.

    I avoid bundles regardless of the price. I know I’ll never get around to reading all of the books and they just add to my guilt factor over the status of my TFB pile. Unless it’s an entire series or a writer that I love’s backlist that I’d like to have available for rereads, even the 99c won’t sell me.

  28. Eileen Dandashi
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:46:27

    I am of the same opinion as Brianne, above. I am on a strict budget. I’d love to be able to buy a book whenever the urge nudges me and it does all the time. But since I can’t, I try to get as much for my money as I can. The .99 books are the ones I usually buy if it looks good, but I don’t know the author. I’ll pay more if I know the author and have enjoyed her past books. I’ll pay full price ONLY for Christine Feehan’s books in the Dark Series. All of these are kindle books, so there is a savings there. No shipping costs.

  29. Sandy James
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:47:36

    @Lynn M:

    I got burned on an expensive hardcover too many times! (Can we say Shadow Music???) I am seriously stingy with buying anything but ebooks now. Even then, I doubt I’ve spent more than seven bucks for any book in just about forever.

  30. Ruth (CO)
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:54:16

    If the paperback is less than the Kindle edition, I will not buy it. I will wait until the Kindle drops below the paperback price. (I use ereaderiq to track these for me and receive notifications when price drops.)

    If less that $2.99 and it is recommended but I have not read the author before, I will buy it. I have been burned on these but I still will keep trying. I think of it has my encouragement to authors to keep writing at this price as I admire anyone with the fortitude to write stories.

    I will spend between $5 and $7 for authors I like with the rule #1 caveat.

    If I am traveling for work with many trips planned or going on an extended vacation, I will overspend for my “love” authors. For my love authors, I usually buy in hardback also but the number of hardback purchases are now dwindling as I move some love authors to like authors (i.e. Garwood).

  31. Weems
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 10:56:21

    Though it’s been a slow summer for me in terms of reading, I generally want my books cheap, as they are my tools and I can get through a lot of them. Also, I’m more willing to risk a new title or author if the book is less than an investment–if I feel the need to abandon, I’ll feel less guilt if the book didn’t cost me too much in the first place. I feel much the same way about music, that the rhetoric of the producer having the right to squeeze as much money as possible out of me for making the stuff creates a boring atmosphere, where everything ‘new’ becomes a rehash of what’s already been done.

  32. cleo
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 11:22:12

    I have about the same approach as Jane, except I’m not left brained enough to remember what I spend on books. I tend to wait for a sale or use a coupon / frequent buyer reward for anything over 7.99, except for a few must have right now, auto buys, like Nalini Singh.

    My TBR pile is full of freebies and .99 books, plus 1.99 or 2.99 sale books. Since the book hoarding post, I’ve started passing up bargains that I don’t think I’ll really read and saving my money for books I really want.

    I’m currently and unexpectedly on a much tighter budget that I’ve been on for years, so none of the above applies right now, since I’ve mostly stopped buying books. Thank goodness for libraries (though I wish mine had more mm romance). My biggest problem is getting used to waiting for books – I’ve been spoiled by the immediate gratification of my Nook. I’m willing to spend my limited spending money on a book by a trusted author I can’t get it at the library (or the hold list is 3 miles long). But probably not on a new to me author.

  33. Amanda
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 11:26:56

    With 99 cents it depends. What you said is mainly true for me too, I did pick up Hopeless for this price recently but I am in no hurry to read it. At the same time I have also picked up a Garwood for this price and devoured it immediately after purchase.

  34. Lisa J
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 11:30:11

    Another reason I’ll wait for a book out in trade or hardcover, when it comes out in mass market it will sometimes have extra content. I was burned in the beginning buying a book at the higher price with great reviews by an author I really loved and then when the cheaper version came out it had an extra novella in it, which the publisher was more than generous enough to offer to sell to me. Just another reason I don’t spend the money anymore. I guess publishers have trained me to wait and spend less.

    I do love bundles. I have found some great new to me authors in $.99 bundles. Even if I don’t read all the books in the bundle I don’t feel bad for spending the money.

  35. Denise
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 12:05:41

    I hardly ever spend more than 4.00 on an ebook. I would rather spend more money on a book. Don’t get me wrong I love my kindle it’s just when it comes to spending money I would rather have the book instead and get either free to 4.00 books on the kindle.

  36. carmen webster buxton
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 12:06:49

    Thanks so much for posting this just as I am getting ready to put out my first (science fiction) romance! As a reader, I pretty much follow the same guidelines myself, except that even for free and 99¢ books, I tend to use the “Look inside” feature (I’m a Kindle user all the way) to see if I like the author’s style. I figure the first few pages get the most polishing, and if they don’t work for me, the reset of the book won’t either. Actually, that’s true at any price point, unless I know and love the author. But free and cheap books are common enough that I check even the freebies out before I download.

  37. hapax
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 12:13:00

    I won’t pick up anything anymore — even free books — if it doesn’t sound like something I really want to read. At this point in my life, time is WAY more valuable than money; and that includes the time it takes to scan my reader and wonder “why did I download that one, anyhow?”

    Also, once the price hits 5.99, I’m much more likely to go for the physical copy, even if it means paying for POD. I vastly prefer hard copy for the way I read books (skipping around, reading the end of the story first, etc.)

    Of course, I’m a librarian, and I know my way around the interlibrary loan system, so if it’s not something I want to own, I can always get things for free.

  38. Brian
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 12:17:59

    For me what I’m willing to pay depends a lot. First it really needs to be separated into three categories. Self-pubbed, digital first/small pub and NY type/big pub.

    For self pub if you’re free and sound interesting I might pick you up, but it might be a long time to never before I get around to actually reading it. The only time I buy self pubbed is for authors I know or come highly recommended by someone I know likes similar stuff. When buying the most I usually go is $3.99 and often $2.99, unless you’re Courtney Milan or one of the few others I know put out a quality, edited and well formatted, product. There’s a reason self-pubbed stuff is known as the slush pile in some circles and it keeps me very careful of what I buy in this category. For authors pubbing their backlist if you’re going to charge NY prices for decades old backlist titles you’ve lost me.

    For small pubs (Samhain, etc) I’m generally willing to pay more and for a couple of authors I know I like I’d pay even more than they charge. On the other hand some digital first small pubs are starting to charge prices on a level with the big pubs and it’s made me not buy some things I probably would have if it had been more in line with other digital firsts. Again if it’s an author I already know and love price isn’t a big factor. I do have an issue with some of the pubs that are doing $3.99-$4.99 for shorts and novellas though.

    For big or NY style traditional pubs my usual price goes up a bit, but not much. $7.99 is often my max and that’s only if I liked something previously from that author or you really hook me with the blurb, cover, etc. A lot of what I buy in this category is when it’s on sale for $.99-$3.99, but those prices have led me to go on and buy higher priced stuff if I liked the author. Again there are those authors I’ll pay a lot more for too. Some are just must have for me.

    tl/dr; I guess all that boils down to it depends on a lot of things.

  39. Will Entrekin
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 12:18:39

    Free – I’ll download but it may take a while to get to.

    $.99 to $1.99 – I’ll read the sample. If I make it to the end, I’ll pick it up.

    $2.99 to $4.99 – I’m comfortable paying this for books I expect to enjoy.

    Up to $6.99 – You’d better be Neil Gaiman, and even then I’ll likely wait until I see it on sale for less than $2.99. See all those free and $2 ebooks I mentioned? I’ve got lots of those and sales I notice through Kindle Daily Deals and Pixel of Ink and Bookbub, so that’s what books here compete with, and rarely well.

    Dying to read at more than $4.99 – I’m sure I can probably find this somewhere. Sorry. Talk to your publisher about its prices. I know, I know — you probably have no pull with your publisher regarding its prices. That’s really a shame.

  40. Lindsay
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 12:46:52

    One author I enjoy keeps putting out new ebooks at $12.99 and they don’t go any cheaper for over a year (and are published by a company that won’t accept Kobo coupons). As a result I’ve actually started reading that author’s books over a year delayed, just like I used to do with hardcover vs paperback. I’d be sad except I have SO MANY other books, that at that price I’d be able to buy 5-6 more. It sucks, I like them as an author and a person (I’ve met them several times at my bookstore as they’re local) but the ebook price is just prohibitive for me for a book I know I’ll enjoy, but won’t LOVE. I’ve been reading their books for 15 years and will probably keep doing so, just at a much slower pace than they’d probably like.

    The same goes for a lot of the business and sociology books I enjoy — they’re prohibitively priced, some over $20, even when the physical book hits the bargain bins in bookstores. I generally pick them up during Amazon’s monthly Kindle deal if at all, or wait for a really good Kobo coupon. I’ll also buy the physical book but I tend to give them away as shelf space is really limited.

    EreaderIQ is one of the best things ever for books I don’t need to read right away, and I feel a little bad that there are very few authors who are day-one buys for me in the $7.99+ price range (and all of them have been introduced by Dear Author or the comments, heh). It’s not that I don’t love you, authors! I can just… generally read the hundreds of other books I have while I wait for the price to work for me.

  41. Sherri
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 13:00:03

    $5 is my limit, even for authors I go fangrrl over. I find it hard to justify spending more on an ebook than I would to purchase a print copy – especially since I can then take that print copy and use it towards the purchase of another book.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love my ereader and ebooks. Nothing beats being able to carry hundreds of books in my pocket and not worrying about being without reading material when you’re thisclose to finishing a book (the non-allergic thing is bonus – used books & new print make me sneeze). I just prefer to spend less so I can read more.

  42. Luce
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 13:20:02

    $0.99 – I tend to instinctively avoid books at this price after repeated experiences with DNF books due to poorly written premises and typos galore.

    $1.99 – 2.99 – This is my comfort zone. The more interesting the book seems to me, the higher the chances that I’ll end up buying it. For the record, this is price range doesn’t include novellas. I never got into the habit of buying books that were less than 50k words. The exception is if the author is in my very, very short auto-buy list.

    $3.99 – 7.99 – I don’t mind buying book at these prices. A couple of times throughout the year I do go on a ebook-buying binge during which I will spend up to $8 per book (which is my hard limit.) In all truth, though, these occasions are rare as I have a LOT of material to read in my nook.

    I might spend up to $10 but only IF it’s by one of my auto-buys. Most of the time, I tend to either wait til the prices drop (as they eventually will) OR try to purchase the book through points from ARE’s loyalty program. I’ve seen ebooks going for $16 (!) but there’s nothing that would get me to hand over that much cash for a digital book.

  43. Sarah M.
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 13:24:10

    I think your assessment is fairly accurate. I’m definitely willing to pay hard copy price for an ebook by an author that I know and love. The product is the same – the distribution is the only difference. I have no problem with paying for the convenience of reading immediately. I find most of the ebooks I purchase are priced between $5.99-9.99.

    One issue that I’ve found with the $2.99 and under books is quality. There are several independent authors that I love (keep in mind that their prices are generally $5-8/book). However, the overall volume of self-published books is astounding. If I am not familiar with the author, I will likely not purchase the book. I have had bad experiences with poorly/unedited books – most all of them priced $2.99 and under.

  44. Nancy B
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 13:26:17

    I have a very strict budget on books per month and a bad habit of buying books I don’t have time to read. I finally figured out a good rule that I can only buy books on my TBR pile. Now, I have a massive TBR pile, but this way I know I didn’t convince myself that I want to read the book because of the sale. This still doesn’t help that I don’t have time to read all of my books in my TBR pile. My price points are:

    $0.99 – $1.99: Sales only (I don’t trust books naturally at this price point unless it’s a debut author I’ve had recommended to me), novellas by authors I’ve tried before (I don’t usually like novellas so I won’t pay more than $1.99 for something I’ll probably feel “meh” about after finishing), books in my TBR pile, and favorite books I have in paperback that I want in digital.

    $2.99: Books by authors I’ve enjoyed before, a book of a new-to-me author recommended to me by a trusted source that I want to read RIGHT NOW, or a book in my TBR pile that the library doesn’t have.

    $3.99+: New books by my favorite authors, or books I’ll get from the library and, if I like them after reading, will either buy in paper or digital, or books I need for a book club.

    My price points are probably lower than most other readers and definitely lower than publishers and authors want to hear, but I’m a young professional with loans so I don’t have much expendable income. All of my expendable income goes to books as is. One day, I hope to be willing to spend more on books but, for now, my kindle is loaded with books I want/need to read that I got on sale and, if I ever run out (hah!), I’ll head to the library.

  45. Marc
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 13:39:14

    I am with Liz H. If it is a DRM I will not pay over the 2.99 threshold and I don’t buy “Amazon only” ebooks either as I don’t want the hassle of converting them. If I am going to pay over 5.00 for a book I want to be able to do whatever I choose with it the same as I would a paperback. I have a hard time justifying a hardcover purchase and unless I love you I will wait for the MM or the ebook to go on sale.

  46. Julia
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 13:53:36

    For me this depends on a lot of things. If it’s a book with a MMPB edition, I assume I’m going to be able to find it in a used bookstore for around $4 at some point, so I won’t buy the ebook unless it is less than that.

    I read a lot of books (m/m) that aren’t available in PB or if they are, are at trade PB prices, so I don’t mind spending more on those, up to $7.99 if I know the author or have read positive reviews and the blurb appeals to me. I always read samples of EVERYTHING before purchase.

    For books priced at $0.99, it depends how I came across the book. If it was recommended to me or I read reviews and the blurb sounds interesting, and only after that do I discover it is only $0.99, I snap those up and read them right away. I have come across MANY absolutely wonderful books at $0.99 and it makes me sad to think that some people would shy away from them on the assumption that because they are cheap the quality must be bad. Not so in these cases.

    Now on the other hand, if the first time I hear about the book it is because it is on sale for $0.99, then I’ll go read the blurb and reviews and I might buy it, but these are the ones that sit on my TBR forever.

    For things over $7.99, I think I’ve only bought one of these ever because it was the last in the series. I have a few things I want to read at this price point, but I’m holding off at the moment.

    My pet peeve is short stories or novellas priced around $2.99-$3.99. No way am I paying $3 for 30 pages. If each 30 pages was worth $3 then a 300 page book would be $30 and that is nonsense.

  47. P. Kirby
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 13:57:38

    My price breakdown is much simpler because, with the exception of graphic novels, I only buy ebooks, and my price point for digital titles is $2.99 and less. (Exception being “keepers” which I will purchase at higher prices in print.) Which means I happily read loads of “cheap” books, many from major publishers, in part thanks to your Daily Deal postings.

    I recently dropped some serious cash for the latest in the Bill Willingham’s Fable series and the remainder on the Journey Into Mystery (kid Loki story line). But that’s because I adore the Fables books and my local library has a poor selection of graphic novels.

  48. Deljah
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 14:23:29

    I download lots of free books if the blurb and sample seem interesting to me and if the reviews don’t turn me off.

    At 99 cents, I’ll try something interesting, but I don’t one-click these all willy nilly.

    Anything above 99 cents gets more scrutiny, not b/c of cost so much, but b/c I already have so much other stuff I could read rather than buying something new. Length matters too, b/c I won’t pay a whole lot for a short story.

    That said, a good kobo coupon is very compelling and always helps me to wittle down my wish list! If I see an odd price on amazon for a book I want, I check for coupons and pricing at kobo and am more likely to buy it there.

  49. Susan
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 14:58:32

    My optimal range is around 4.99/5.99, but I will buy books above and below depending on the circumstances. But I’m getting more picky and cautious, both in terms of my time and money, across all those price points.

    I won’t buy ebooks that are more expensive than the PB version, except in a few instances where I’m finishing up a series I’d already committed to. But it’s not a given that I’ll finish a series these days, something that really bothers my OCD self but I’m learning to hold my ground.

    I’ve also been burnt often enough by sale prices that I’ve drastically cut back on pre-orders. I try to wait ’til I’m ready to start a book to buy it–but then often don’t get around to it at all. So many other books in the TBR pile call my name. A lot of my former favorite authors have just fallen off my list due to this.

  50. Raven Ames
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 15:16:25

    I got my kindle as a xmas gift at the end of last year, so I think the newness of it still makes me do a happy dance when I see books for free. I have lots of free downloads and I’ve read roughly 50% of them. This is actually how I came across Joey Hill, so her one free book has led me to buy every single book in that series and counting.
    .99 cents – if it’s a book I think I will read or it’s a publisher discount, I’m in.
    1.99 – I just don’t see a lot of these.
    2.99-4.99 – a) I’ve read the author before or b) referred by a trusted source
    Anything priced above I wait for the publisher discount which I know is coming as soon as the book after is published. I have no problem waiting. I also have two great libraries and between the two of them, I get almost every new title I’m looking for.
    The only exception I make to this is for an audiobook I have already listened to and loved is available for a discount if I buy the book, also at a discounted price. I just bought a Nora Roberts and the book and audiobook together was about $12 – I can’t get an audiobook any cheaper than that!
    Slightly off-topic, the bundle thing is weird – if the stories are all by the same author, I tend to read them. But when it’s a group of authors, they languish in the TBR pile. I think it’s because I don’t get the same satisfaction from finishing a book when the “book” itself still has nine more books to read within.
    And I’m totally with @Caroline on the Amazon review page bouncing up at the end like an annoying commercial – it’s the reason I never leave a review!

  51. Michelle - Snarky Mom
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 15:42:30

    This is one of my “hot spots” as a book buyer… and book reviewer. Quite frankly, I think any digital book OVER the price of $5 is RIDICULOUS. Do I pay $7.99 for a digital book? N.O. Why not? Because I can purchase a paperback copy of the same book for LESS than that; I can sell that paper book BACK somewhere or loan it to MULTIPLE friends; and let’s be honest — the profit margin on a digital book is extraordinarily different than on a print book. Personally? I’m VERY GLAD to see some “outside interference” in the publishing industry’s pricing structure for digital matters!

  52. Renee
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 16:25:41

    First off, I have worked in libraries for close to forty years and have had to deal with the stingiest of budgets (both at work and in my personal life) so telling me I am devaluing an author’s book if I get it for free or .99 cents is the fastest way to get on my “don’t think I’ll ever bother with this author when there are sooooo many others out there” list. I do not spend money on novellas or short stories and resent going much over 1.99 but will, mostly happily, go to 2.99 or 3.99 for favorite authors who managed to get rights back to their backlist or a new one that really sounds great but my limit is 5.00 I do get free or .99 bundles (either by a single author or a group) and tend to enjoy them. If a favorite author has a bundle out or if it is part of a series that has been on my wish list I will pay more than my 5.00 upper limit for a bundle if it works out to at least a little less than 5.00 per book.
    On the other hand, sometimes even if it is a series I have wanted to read for decades but is over 4.00 I’ll stick with ordering a used copy or interlibrary loan.

  53. michael
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 16:38:10

    Beautifully summarized. You’ve nailed my buying habits on the head.

  54. Cynthia Blaiin
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 16:54:34

    As a reader of printed books all my life, and not having any kind of an e-reader or phone to read books on, I downloaded the Kindle app. and now can download some of the books that I would like to try with a new author. I especially like the authors who have a free book or a .99 book as it gives you the chance to check out their writing and if you don’t enjoy it as much as another author that you have read before, you don’t feel taken advantage of in any way. I buy a LOT of paperbacks and hardcovers so spend a lot of money on those but they are almost always in a series where the author and I are old “friends” and I know that I will love the book. So, there really is a niche for those .99 cent books and free books, and I would think that authors would like people to try out their books knowing that if they like their writing, that they will be back and next time will pay a much higher price for the book.

  55. Selene Grace Silver
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 17:23:42

    Agree with much of what has already been stated. One caveat for the 99 cent-$1.99 category concerns shorter works. I’ve bought and read novellas that are a 1/3 the length of a typical novel, but are still well-written. If the book info states the title is 50-80 pages, I will buy and read at 99 cents. I tend to feel ripped off if I have to pay more than $2 for a short story or novella-length work. Repeating what others have said, publishers charging more than $7-$8 for the limited right to have and read a digital copy of a full-length novel is expecting readers to pay too much.

  56. Connie
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 19:05:10

    Pure unadulterated hogwash. (I know = almost a double negative)

    Don’t know where you came up with those definitions of price, but sounds like you are defending a bloated industry that refuses to change with the times.

    There are other measures for finding a good book. Price isn’t one of them.

  57. Cassandra B.
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 19:09:01

    Without actually counting, I would say there are about 12 authors and/or series I just buy, no matter the price. But authors at this level must maintain or I drop them. This happened with Christine Feehan, after paying 12.99 for the wreck of Dark Predator I don’t buy her at all anymore (the library is my friend, if I read her at all) and after being a dedicated fan of the Breeds series for years, Lora Leigh finally managed to push me to the edge and she is likely a library waitlist for me now.

    At this point, when it is not an automatic buy for me, I am adding the book my wishlist and waiting for a coupon code. I find coupon codes can be dangerous because I pad my TBR pile (but seems such a shame to waste 20% off). When it is a limited time deal and no coupon code, I try to ask myself “I am really going to read this?”.

    While I am not happy to pay 12.99 for an ebook, I do it for the authors I love. After buying a few too many books I still haven’t read, I focus first on whether this book has an element I really want to read. Then, I take price into consideration. Anything under $5 that I find really interesting and takes a coupon code will eventually get brought. Over $5 takes something extra special and perhaps a trial at the library first. I have a couple authors I am really interested in trying, but their books are priced at $8 with established series. I am waiting to try because I don’t want to get hooked and feel comply to spend lots for a whole series right away.

  58. Leanne
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 19:55:04

    I guess I’m the exception. I only buy full-priced books, but only the ones with multiple reviews (in multiple places) I think I’ll enjoy. I don’t need to know the author. In fact, I would shy away from buying a 99 cent book unless it had a lot of great reviews. I would forget about it.

    I buy a lot more books with an e-reader. I live in an apartment in NYC and don’t have room for physical books. Honestly, cost is that not that important to me. I’m not going to not buy a great book because it’s $10+. If I want to be stingy, I’m not going to be stingy about books.

  59. Samantha
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 21:53:44

    I think I am just cheap. Unless I can get an ebook for under $3.99 I don’t get it. If I have to spend more than that for a book, I get the paper version. Then I can pass it on to a friend or put it up on paper back swap.

  60. Kaetrin
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 22:08:11

    I’m so jealous of all you US-based people who can buy an MMP for $5 or $6. I. Wish.

    Here in Australia MMPs are regularly $22 so paying $6 or $7 for the digital version does feel like a bit of a bargain sometimes.

    Buying digitally has trained me to want to get my books for $5 or less but if I looked only at the Australian market, I would have been trained to pay much much more.

  61. Sherry
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 22:16:01

    I don’t mind paying $5.99 for a book that has at least 250 pages, what gets me are the ones that are charging $2.99 and up for less than 40 pages. That is a rip off especially if you are only told the KB and not the number of pages or words because it is hard to figure pages with just the KB. I have paid more for authors I know I like, but since money is tight I am drawing the line at books for $5.99 or more with less than 250 pages I know this vastly shortens my author list, but the bills get paid and groceries are bought before I buy books.

  62. MissE
    Sep 01, 2013 @ 22:23:53

    I would never pay more than $3.99 for an e-book, and at that price I’d better be a massive fan of the author. $1.99 is pretty much my limit for trying a new author and I’d have to be very intrigued to pay that rate. When I bought my Nook a few months ago, the lady who gave me my package at the post office told me to watch out since B&N had removed all of her purchased e-books from her Nook when the credit card they had on record expired. It’s this kind of experience that pushes me to never, ever pay much for an e-book. Nobody can come into my house and steal a paperback, but they can and do remove legally purchased books from ereaders without so much as a by your leave. Since I’m essentially renting the content for ebooks, their value is much lower to me than owning a paper copy.

  63. cleo
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 08:32:53

    @MissE – backing up your files should protect you from that (although I agree that digital files are more ephemeral than print books). I have the Nook app on my desktop computer and every once in awhile I open it and download my new purchases so I have all my epub files saved on my harddrive, where I can copy them. I copy them into Dropbox so they’re in the cloud too. There may be an easier way to backup, but this works for me.

  64. Angela James
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 09:33:47

    @Jane: “I don’t really buy bundles unless they are 99c and then I’ve never read one. But I think I’ve bought like 10 of them”

    This comment, as well as your post itself, brings up what’s always been the next question in the discussion for me (because I think a LOT about pricing, for obvious reasons): what’s better for an author in these situations: having 10,000 people buy their bundle of 10 for 99cents and only a few read it, or having 1000 buy for $9.99 and the majority read it?

    Which is not to say that people who buy 99cent bundles, or who are hoarding free & super cheap books, aren’t always reading them, but it does seem like it’s easier to hoard at the cheap price, making it hard for an author to stand out not just in a crowded marketplace, but in a crowded TBR pile even after purchase. And if the reader hasn’t read the first, are they less likely to collect the second, even at a cheap price? ((I’m not posing statements as questions, to be clear, these are things I honestly wonder)

    It’s hard to tell from the comments whether readers are more likely to read a book they paid more $$ for (even just $4) than one they got for really cheap or free? Someone in the comments said something about not liking it when authors say that 99 cents is undervaluing their work, but is there some truth to that, psychologically?

    It feels a little like when, as a parent, I think my daughter will value the thing she had to work for more than the things she was given. I don’t even know if that’s true, but it’s one of those “raising a child” things that’s hard not to believe, and in some ways, I wonder if book pricing has any sort of similar psychological effect. What do you think?

  65. library addict
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 10:10:05

    @Angela James: I think there’s some truth to that.

    I know I’ve read some mediocre novels and think “Well, at least I only paid x for it.” But in the past 5-6 years I’ve gotten better about DNFing books that just don’t hold my interest. Because I’ve come to realize my reading time is worth more to me than the actual cost of a book.

    I’ve been known to buy multiple books in a series before reading the first book. But for the most part, if I haven’t read an author yet I am leery of buying more than one book. So being read I think is more important for the author.

    I also think there is a difference between buying a book that is normally priced at 99c and buying a book that is normally priced higher but you get on sale for 99c. I’m not sure why, but I know I do think differently about them. And I mean full length books. Novellas for 99c seem like a good deal to good me even if that is their normal price.

  66. cleo
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 10:20:20

    @Angela – interesting. For me, I don’t think the price determines whether or not I read or value a book, but I am much, much more likely to buy a book that I don’t intend to read right away if it is very cheap or on sale. And if I don’t read it right away, or relatively soon, I’m less likely to read it period, because I forget I have it. Today, frex, Jayne reviewed a book I actually own (think I bought it on sale awhile ago) that I’d kind of forgotten about, so now I’m happy because I can read it now without spending more money.

    I have a complicated double tbr folder system on my Nook, one with books I think I’ll actually read and don’t want to forget about, and the other with all of my unread books, as a way to keep them all from becoming tfb.

    ETA – I have bought a multiple books from a series I haven’t read on sale at least twice – both were for well reviewed series I thought I’d like. But in general, I need to have read the first book before I’ll buy the rest, sale or no.

  67. Darlynne
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 11:16:20

    @MissE: The books may have been removed from the Nook reader–although mine never were under the same circumstances–but they would still have been in her Nook library at bn.com. Still, I agree with Cleo and follow the same process of downloading and then copying to Dropbox.

  68. Tabs
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 12:34:58

    I pick up alot of books for free or 99 cents, and while they’re all not perfect I do tend to find gems in there. The thing about the reviews though is faulty logic in my opinion. You seem to go by the belief that people have the time to quickly read a book, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, I know alot of people who love to read who add to their book piles even with non e-books and they have an order to what they’re reading which means a book may not get read for quite some time. It has nothing to do with a lack of interest in the book. It just has to do with where they’re slotting it and how much time they have/how long it takes them to read.

    As to the other price ranges, there’s no way I’m paying $8.00 or more for an e-book. I don’t care if I’ve read or enjoy the author either. A paperback you can get for $8 at the stores around here. Given that the price of books generally relates to the cost to print them that means that not a single e-book should ever be priced that high. It costs less to “bring them to print” so to speak therefore it shouldn’t cost the same price as a paperback or a hardback, period.

  69. Nicci Hartland
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 14:55:54

    I normally wait until the best sellers are on the discount shelf. I never spend more than $5.00 for a book no matter how good it is. The cheaper the price the better. I have actually found some gems in the lower priced books and even the free ones.

  70. Moriah Jovan
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 16:11:57

    I’ve been thinking about this post a lot. I have two books at $5.99. Both of them are almost 300,000 words, which is 1,200 pages @ 250 words per page. Each. I have one book at $3.99 (120,000 words, 480 pages @ 250 wpp) and one at $4.49 (150,000 words, 600 pages @ 250 wpp).

    So of course I’m always mindful of that balance of quickly glancing at a price and moving on versus value per dollar. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no win-win.

    But beyond that, I know that when my first book (285,000 words) was 99c, I got quite a few sales, but very few people read it. Now that it’s back to $5.99, I get a lot fewer sales, but I make more money AND people actually read it, which anecdotally buttresses Angela’s musings about psychologically more valuable.

    The fact of the matter is, I can’t put out one title per year, much less 3 to half a dozen, and sell them all at 99c to keep my name fresh in everybody’s mind.

    A fan, who is a marketing type person in her field (not publishing), told me I was making a mistake selling book 1 at 99c, even if it did lead to people finding me and my series. She advised me to raise the price to $5.99 so as not to make people think it wasn’t worth more than a buck. So I sent her this article to read, and she then advised me to RAISE my prices across the board, but put the page count in the summary.

    I don’t know if I will do that or not. All I know is that at 99c, I get bought but not read, with a tiny revenue. And at $5.99, I don’t get bought as much, but my margin is higher and I definitely get read.

  71. Marlena H.
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 18:07:05

    Here’s my price range:

    FREE – If it is in a genre I like I will get it unless there is a very obvious element that I won’t like. Usually it is on my list to read, but it might be a while. Often I will read these when I discover that I have five or six in a series by the same author and I realize I really should read these. I have discovered some great authors this way, but there are just so many books I’ve gotten this way. One of the authors I discovered this way I will pay up to whatever she charges for her books. I own digital copies of every book she has written and plan to purchase the physical copies as I have the money for them. I even bought a bundle she put together where I already owned every book in it just so I could pay for her first book. That’s how much I loved her work.

    $0.99 – I either have the book in physical form, it is a book by an author I really like (probably on sale), or I plan to read it that week.

    $1.99 – Probably an author I like is having a sale on his/her books and this is the sale price for a book I already own. This price is pushing it for books I already own and iffy for novellas.

    $2.99 – At this point I must have already read a book by this author and I probably do not have a physical copy or the likelihood of getting one soon. This book may also be one that is only in digital form. If I do have this book in physical form I must love this author a whole lot or at least love the specific book a whole lot. My price point for physical books is usually somewhere around $2.50, so this is getting high for other reasons as well.

    $3.99 – This price point is really pushing it for physical books. Actually I almost never buy physical books at this price point. They are usually either under $2.50 or somewhere between $5 and $8). I will pay this price point if I really love the author and I do not have a likelihood of getting a physical book anytime soon.

    $4.99 – This is pretty much my limit on digital books and few books have been bought at this price. I think the number is at about six, three by one author, two by another, and one by a third. At this price point I have to already love the author. If I don’t, I will not be paying this high. I also need to not have a physical copy of the book yet. I know that three of these are for books that cost $15.99 or so for the physical book, which I do plan to buy, and one was a brand new book with a launch sale price.

    I know of two ebooks that I have purchased over $4.99. Both were brand new books by authors I love and are difficult to find locally. Both were books that I ended up loving.

    None of these price points are a guarantee I will read it right away. I prefer to read whole series at once. I recently purchased six books from three series (the last two in one series, the latest in the second, and three books from a third series). I read the first in all of these series for free and all of these were purchased at $2.99 each. With them I also purchased the latest by one of my newer favorite authors for $3.99. All of these authors are self published authors.

    @Moriah – I think your books would be included in an exception to this rule because of their word counts. Most books are not nearly that long. The problem with ebooks is you have to get someone to click the link to realize that they are as long as they are and I don’t click links to books in that price range, not even when I recognize the author. Because of your comment I had to look up your books and has be curious, but not enough to stick my feet in the water. Best of luck I will put you on my list to look back at later, maybe when I have more time on my hands.

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  73. Michelle Louring
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 03:29:23

    My experiences pretty much echo your observations, but as I haven’t switched entirely to digital books yet, I would probably not be willing to give more than $5-6 for an ebook.

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  75. The Rodent
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 12:27:15

    My first thought about pricing, of any commodity, is: why tack “99” onto the end of everything? Just round up or down, please, and don’t try to trick me into thinking that 3.99 is significantly less than 4.

    There is no price point at which I’ll buy an e-book unless the 3-4 page preview grabs me (and has few/no errors). I even pass up “free” if I don’t like the preview. At under $2 or so, I’ll sometimes buy books by authors I haven’t read before. Over that price, for a new author I need to be convinced by the preview that the book is going to be worth my time to read; mostly I don’t. Will pay $5-6 or so for e-books by known authors I follow. Over that price, sorry: I’ll buy a used paperback for one cent plus $3 shipping before paying $8-10 or more for an e-book. (If I hate it, I can always ditch the paperback at a used bookstore and recover a few pennies.)

    In general: if I paid for an e-book, I will read it, and soon. But my pile of free books that I’ll someday get around to is getting enormous.

    The other aspect of pricing is… If I pay $5 or more for an e-book, I do NOT want to have to crack open the EPUB in Sigil and re-format it; I’ll be upset. But for a $1 or $2 book that I decide to read, I will often fix some aspects of poor formatting before loading it onto my e-reader.

  76. Castiron
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 13:28:51

    Free: Am I interested enough in this book or this author that I’d check it out from the library? (Or is it my lucky day, and a book I’ve read and loved in print is now a freebie?) If yes, I’ll download; otherwise, I don’t want to take the time.

    $1.00 to $2.99: I’ll buy if I’m in an adventurous mood and I’ve read good reviews of the book or have heard good things about the author’s writing.

    $3.00 to $7.99: I’ll buy if I’ve checked the book out from the library and liked it enough to own, or if I’d bought a used paper copy and love it enough that I want the author to get a royalty payment.

    $8.00 to $9.99: I’ll buy if I really really love the author’s work. (And even then I may balk. See: Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey series; I can’t bring myself to spend the $8.50ish price that most volumes are going for on Kindle, much as I love the books. If I only wanted a couple of the books, I might spring for it, but I want the whole series.)

    $10 and up: I won’t rule it out, but at that price, it’d better be huge, or a really specialized topic (I’d pay quite a bit for a good ebook of Jacob Engelbrecht’s diaries), or a multi-volume set (I’d pay $50 for an all-in-one Peter Wimsey ebook). I’m not likely to pay $15 for a novel; I’ll buy the print version instead.

  77. mbg1968
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 13:56:01

    First of all, I rarely spend as much money for ebooks as most readers. I work in a Library and know how to get what I want using holds and ILLs if necessary. I buy only books I want to keep and re-read. Others, I can get for free.

    Second of all, just because I purchase books on Amazon, does not mean I review them on Amazon. So those windows or emails are usually ignored. First, I prefer to review on Goodreads. I like that my reviews are my own and won’t be deleted if they are unflattering. Second, I feel no compulsion to provide my time for free (reviewing) to help Amazon sell books. Third, just because I buy e-books from Amazon, doesn’t mean I am ready to review them. Often, I’m buying books that I have already read because they are on sale and I want to add them to my library and re-read when I feel the urge. I’m not going to post a review until I do re-read them. Or, I may have purchased the book to read and have available when I’m ready to read it. So, again Amazon’s request for a review is just deleted. Again, I prefer Goodreads where I can review on my own time, not Amazon’s.

    So don’t assume that because I’ve purchased from Amazon and haven’t posted a review that I have not a) read the book, or b) already posted a review elsewhere.

    As far as pricing. I rarely spend more the $5.99 for an e-book. At that price, it will be for an author that I love and collect.

    $2.99-$3.99. Probably something I’ve read already by an author I like. Again, likely purchasing to re-read, not because it is new to me.

    $1.99. I may take a chance on these if they come VERY highly reviewed by reviewers I trust. Otherwise, again, I’m probably buying a familiar author so that I can keep and re-read.

    $.99 Almost never buy these unless they are something I want to re-read. I’ve seen too much junk. And even $.99 is not worth it for a book that is an agonizingly bad reading experience.

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  80. English Andrew
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 01:05:24

    The overwhelming majority of books on my ereader are free downloads, especially public domain books downloaded from Project Gutenberg, with some newer books downloaded for three weeks through my library. With so many quality free books available (and Gutenberg books are generally better proof-read than commercial books which have just been scanned in) I need a really low price or really want the book in that format to pay at all.

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  82. Julie Cross
    Sep 27, 2013 @ 14:01:47

    My buying pattern is pretty much identical to Jane’s. However, I do wonder what it’s like for the young people? I don’t know why, but I have a feeling they’re much more likely to follow the buy, read, buy, read pattern.

    My 13 yo niece reads YA voraciously both print and kindle books but probably more kindle heavy now. Recently I sent her and email with links to 5 very popular and good YA books all on sale for $2.99 or less. She replied back with, “Omg! I can’t decide which one to buy, they all sound really good!” of course I was like, “um…all of them?” She whips through 2-3 books a week and at those sale prices she would be saving a ton of money. It didn’t occur to her to stock pile while a sale was happening. I found that interesting because I currently have 62 unread books on my e-reader that I bought while on sale.

    I imagine it’s different if kids have unlimited resources, but then again, with a credit card plugged in constantly, I bet they still search until they find the book they want to read right then, buy it, then start reading.

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