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Discussion Starter #1
Has this come up before?  I got into a lively discussion on this topic the other night at a gathering of book-lovers and decided to ask here as well, among expert consumers.  :)

What does people here feel is a reasonable price for an e-book?  Fiction, that is. (Textbooks and other non-fiction are often more expensive for a host of reasons.)  What price point makes you say, "That's too much, no matter how good the sample is"?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
To answer my own question, I know that I start getting into buyer's remorse at around $4 or $5.  If it's $6 or $7, the book better be by someone whose work I know and love.  I'm more willing to buy a book by someone whose work I'm unfamiliar with if the price is $2 or maybe $3.

I mentioned this before on another thread, I think, but the reason for this is because I end up with a book I can't actually hold or touch.  And if I don't like it, I can't give it away or donate it to the library book sale. 

It's an odd point of view--I'm perfectly willing to pay $10 to see a movie, which I can't hold or touch and which vanishes in a couple hours.  I can't give it away or get my money back if I don't like it.  But I'm unwilling to buy an e-book for that much.
 

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As a reader, I like to feel that I'm getting a good deal.  With so many choices here under $5, it's hard sometimes to buy a book for 9.99 or more.  I have only a couple of those on my Kindle, but I purchase many of the lower priced books which I have enjoyed a great deal.

As an author, I would rather sell my work for a lower price and get more readers than hold out for a bit more money and get fewer sales.

As for text books, I've read that many authors of those have never seen a dime for all their hard work.
 

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Well, I'm just a reader, not an author, but I will put my two cents in. Whoops!  I will definitely pay more than two cents.   :D

Generally, I have noticed a trend of Indie authors selling their first novels for $.99. I will almost always pick those up if I am interested in the subject matter. A dollar is just not much of a risk. Although, there have been a couple of times I felt I had been cheated out of that dollar.   :mad: But, it has to be pretty bad (Unedited, filled with typos, etc) for me to feel that way.

I have recently stopped purchasing short stories that sell for that same $.99. It just doesn't seem right that I can buy an entire book for that, but someone expects me to pay the same for a few pages that take me 10 to 20 minutes to read.  I have even gotten books of 10 or more short stories for that same price.

Unfortunately, I think that by buying short stories seperately, we are encouraging a 'bad trend' of allowing anyone to 'publish' just about anything, even a one page essay, in order to make a buck, literally.

For an unknown author, meaning self-published, I will pay up to $3.00 for the first work that I try. If I like the first one, and develop the trust that they are publishing well-edited work, I will pay up to $4 or $5 for the next one by that author. The trust grows and the price I am willing to pay does, too.

For instance, I tried some of J.A. Konrath's books that he self published for cheap. They were great, so I tried his higher priced, but not too high, novels. I liked them and the last book I bought of his was $9.99.

I will add that I generally won't even pay $9.99 for a commercially published author that I have never heard of, safer to just wiat for the 'paperback' price.
 

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As an author and publisher for the Kindle since December 2007, I have found that $ 3.99 is a good price for a kindle book and for that the work should be 100 pages to 1,000 pages. Below that, it definitely should be lower priced. I have, however, learned that authors who are out for royalties do not make it because they lack readers. Therefore, it is best to lower the price as it should not be an obstacle to acquire a new or repeat reader. Therefore, I have lowered the price for 6 of my novels to $ .99 and my non-fiction (how to write) book to an optional $ .99 or free for the asking. The three long ball epics that total over 3,000 pages and growing, I keep at $ 3.99 each as price is not an obstable (according to my readers), and my 2 poetry books are also a $3.99, because even at $ .99 poetry is so niche as to acquire few readers. Any new book (I have one coming on July 24th), will start out at $3.99. As for paperbacks, due to costs, they are higher priced, but my paperbacks are priced to match the kindle royalties, so they are significantly lower than many Indie published books, because I don't care too much about making money. Readers are golden and engaging them is my joy.

Edward C. Patterson
 
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I don't have a Kindle yet (buy I will...oh yes...I will  ;D)  But I do buy digital media a lot (mostly PDF format).  I have no problem paying for quality.  I'd rather pay $10 for a well written, well edited, well designed book than .99 for a crappy, hastily written, unedited piece of virtual toilet paper.  Price does not impact my fiction reading choices.  Quality does.

I am a critical reader.  I read book blurbs.  I read previews.  I read book reviews.  I read teasers.  I've been known to Google the name of a particular writer I have never heard of to find out if the guy is a wacko hack or not (and let that be a lesson, boys and girls, your forum posts are indexed by search engines!)

That's not to say I don't comparison shop.  If the Kindle book is $10 and the print is $8.99 on sale, I'm buying the print (I prefer print, to be honest...please don't flog me!).  If I can get something on the Kindle for $6 but in PDF somewhere else for $4, I'll probably buy the PDF.  But at that point I already made the decision to buy the book, and it's just a matter of format and price.  The price itself doesn't determine whether or not a buy a book.

That all said, if a fiction title is over $10, I would stay away simply because I would assume that there is something weird going on.  The industry average is $10 or less, with a few noteable exceptions that don't disprove the rule.  If I see a fiction ebook priced at $15-$20, I generally aasume it's a self-published writer that didn't bother to research the market to find out what the price norms are.  And if it is a major author from a big publisher, I know I can get the paperback cheaper!
 

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Indie DTB works are generally exorbitant in price, sometimes as high as $25.00. However, if an Indie author uses POD's such as CreateSpace, you can keep a paperback in a reasonable price zone, but size costs and therefore size counts. I manage most of my books under $10.00, the sweet price being $ 6.50. My Indie Publishing How to book I sell in paperback at $ 3.50 and take a $ .06 royalty, which is $ .06 more than the free offer electronically. Other books that are over 400 pages have minimum prices set by the POD houses. I get as close to that minimum as possible. So The Jade Owl books are $15.40, $16.50 and $17.45 respectively, but they are 598, 668 and 725 pages respectively. The Academician minimum forces me over $ 10.00 and I set it at $11.27, because that's the year of the novel's setting. ;D However, most of my readers are on the Kindle and other electronic format. I sell 10-15 eBooks to each paperback. But that's okay.

As for using search engines, it's important. My award winning book, No Irish Need Apply was selected by Booz Allen Hamilton after a Google search on my subject and then my name. I was selected and the gig netted me a few hundred books sales and new readers, plus a four figure honorarium. But, hey, God is my agent. One of the most important things I relate to my fellow Indie authors is that every flame war, each nasty comment etc they make on the net is available to help form your brand. So go ahead and blast someone for giving you a one-star review (NOT). If you do, you lose.

Very wise words bardsandsages. Very wise. I just gave Stacey Cochran an author interview and discussed many things and in that interview I stated that with the advent of the Indie author glut, acquisition editors are out and readers are in, as the power in the industry. This is a lesson that every author should take to heart. It is a lesson that Amazon knows and depends on. The only difference is that Amazon is trying to make money. Any author worth their soul is in it for a different and more intangible reason.

Edward C. Patterson
 

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I find myself willing to pay up to the magic $9.99 for books.  However, and it's a big one, I have gotten most of my books at lower prices, so I'm figuring average cost per book is much lower.  I bought my kindle in order to obtain out of regular print books that were available on the kindle, and most of them I've gotten between 3 and 6 dollars.  I've sampled a few books, and am planning on buying one of them, but I'm not a big reader of reviews.
 

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Of course, I bought The Cambridge History of China - Volume V The Sung Dynasty - Part I for $180. So sometimes price doesn't matter when a reader wants a book. ;D

Edward C. Patterson
 

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Edward C. Patterson said:
Of course, I bought The Cambridge History of China - Volume V The Sung Dynasty - Part I for $180. So sometimes price doesn't matter when a reader wants a book. ;D

Edward C. Patterson
I think I would do the same if I could find a well written history of Austria. (Google, no, I don't mean Australia)

Tanner
 

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Well, I bought it because I'm lazy. he he. I have an MA in Chinese History and part of a doctorate. I also own the Sung-chian de li-shr, a seven volume work photo-reduced from 24 volumes completely in Classical Chinese that cost me $3,000 forty years ago. I used this when I was at Columbia U. for my doctoral dissertation. HOWEVER, while writing my Chinese Novels and I need to check a fact, it would take me hours to find anything and translate it in the Sung-chaio de li-shr. So, for $180 I get a short 1,000 page distillation. Pricing is a funny thing. Some authors price a book to equate to their time, cost and effort. So the Academician is the product of 37 years and fistfuls of research dollars so I should charge $50.00 a copy. But no. It's my legacy of love, so for $ .99 I share it. Which just goes to show that when it comes to publishing, the normal marketing criteria does not always hold true (and I spent 30 years as a director of marketing, having abandonned academia for mammon). Go figure.

Edward C. Patterson
 

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I will buy any new author that has a book under $2.00.  I will get a sample and read it, and then decide to buy any book for $2-$4.  I will only buy books over $4 from authors I know, or if the book comes highly recommended from this board, a friend, or even the media.  I have tried some 99 cent authors that were new to me and they are now in my over $4 category for subsequent books, so as mentioned sometimes it pays to start low.

Rachel  
 

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bardsandsages said:
I don't have a Kindle yet ... do buy digital media a lot (mostly PDF format).... If the Kindle book is $10 and the print is $8.99 on sale, I'm buying the print (I prefer print, to be honest...please don't flog me!). If I can get something on the Kindle for $6 but in PDF somewhere else for $4, I'll probably buy the PDF.
Once you have a Kindle (a real one, not an iphone imitation), I suspect your choices will change. We all have read PDF and print is definitely preferable. But the Kindle will change your perception of reading electronically.

I'd rather pay $10 for a well written, well edited, well designed book than .99 for a crappy, hastily written, unedited piece of virtual toilet paper. Price does not impact my fiction reading choices. Quality does.
I suspect price does play some part - if you have dozens of same quality choices, all equally interesting (to you), will you buy the 99 cent, $10 or $25 books?

If I see a fiction ebook priced at $15-$20, I generally aasume it's a self-published writer that didn't bother to research the market to find out what the price norms are. And if it is a major author from a big publisher, I know I can get the paperback cheaper!
Indie authors often can't publish a print book for less - they are not subsidized by the large print houses and small print runs have a much higher cost/book than the millions of a best-seller. Some are POD (one-copy print runs), but others a few hundred - few can afford the thousands required to start getting a price break. Plus many are locked into a trade paperback size, which always increases prices (just not desirability).

See ... price does influence your decision, not just quality - you wait for the paperback (but are willing, as many Kindle owners seem to be, to purchase early at $10, rather than wait for the $6.39 "paperback" version).

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As a reader, I'm much more willing to take a chance on a new author at $1 or $2 and buy multiple volumes at under $4 (or $5) from independent authors (and I know they are getting more/book than the major authors who charge more, as the publishing houses take much more of the list price, than what Amazon takes for DTP authors). Even at $1, though, I'll read the sample (and some have been so bad, in the first page or three, that I can't even get thru the sample, let alone contemplate purchasing the book) first, for the first book I encounter by a new author. For established authors, I have paid $10 (and more) ... these are the same authors for which I have hardbacks in my Library, though, so I am still paying less/book, and I am paying extra for the privilege of reading it early, often a year or more before the paperback is available.

In general, I won't buy a book from an indie author at the $8+ range, especially if I haven't read anything else they have written. At that price I can find hundreds of well-written books by established authors, in subjects and genres I am interested in, mostly well-proofed, edited and rewritten until ready for publication. And there are only so many books I can read (not to mention, only so much money in my wallet).

I don't buy short stories, not just due to the cost, but more because I don't like them (different strokes, I know some other read them alone and never novels). They can be published for 49 cents in Amazon's Shorts platform (or at least, they could be recently), but I think Smashwords or another outlet is better for shorts or poetry, at least until an author can put together an entire book (at which point, the above applies, although I won't read them, hubby does). I'd suspect that an author with talent that likes to write short stories or poetry is still better off finding magazines that will pay for their work (they do exist and if you can't get anyone to pay for yours, there might truly be a reason why). I've also read the worst examples of inability to create an English sentence in short stories available for Kindle (in the samples) ... if you can't put together at least the first 10% with decent grammar and proper spelling, please don't bother to publish it at all. If you haven't at least proofed it, then rewrote it, say two or three times, it isn't ready to publish either - anything which that mean English teacher back, in Freshman English, would have graded with an F, for effort, grammar or content, you shouldn't consider publishing (and some here have seen an example of recently, along with a flame war on Amazon forums over the author's posts). If you've never taken a class where failure was an option - please, sign up for one at a local college or attend a true writer's workshop (where they don't care if they hurt your feelings)***

*** All 14 year olds are exempt from this requirement until they have written, say, their second book.
 

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koland said:
If you haven't at least proofed it, then rewrote it, say two or three times, it isn't ready to publish either - anything which that mean English teacher back, in Freshman English, would have graded with an F, for effort, grammar or content, you shouldn't consider publishing (and some here have seen an example of recently, along with a flame war on Amazon forums over the author's posts). If you've never taken a class where failure was an option - please, sign up for one at a local college or attend a true writer's workshop (where they don't care if they hurt your feelings)***

*** All 14 year olds are exempt from this requirement until they have written, say, their second book.
BRAVO. I have built a publishing guide around this concept (of course, I give it away for free), but the first question an Indie author needs to ask themselves before considering the pricing issue is, and I quote here: "Writers are notoriously poor copy editors, especially for their own work. (We strut fine over other author's works). The reading public will forgive some errors - but not many. It's just like buying a car and saying "whoops, only one windshield wiper works. Sorry. Better luck next rainstorm." Your reader deserves your talents and a perfect read. PERFEKT! Impossible. However, one must strive for it. A review that says "Wonderfully written. Great story. Needs editing." KILLER. Make up your mind to put into effect a completely new skill set before launching a work into print or into e-book-land. One thing that keeps the stigma on Indie Authors is "they make boo-boo's." If you are lucky (and most of you are), you'll have someone who will proof-read for you for FREE (love, chocolates, a dinner and a free copy of your book - hardcover, if possible, signed - and a nice gift certificate to Border's at Christmas). Such saints are so caring that they have invested in your success. Such is a blessing - so pray on it, because God is now your agent."

BTW, the 14 year old who I am currently reading is amazing. I was writing at that age (8 actually and I'm 62 now), but my stuff was juvenalia personified. Not like this kinder of der Kindleboard.

Edward C. Patterson
 

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Edward C. Patterson said:
BRAVO. I have built a publishing guide around this concept (of course, I give it away for free), but the first question an Indie author needs to ask themselves before considering the pricing issue is, and I quote here: "Writers are notoriously poor copy editors, especially for their own work. (We strut fine over other author's works). The reading public will forgive some errors - but not many. It's just like buying a car and saying "whoops, only one windshield wiper works. Sorry. Better luck next rainstorm." Your reader deserves your talents and a perfect read. PERFEKT! Impossible. However, one must strive for it. A review that says "Wonderfully written. Great story. Needs editing." KILLER. Make up your mind to put into effect a completely new skill set before launching a work into print or into e-book-land. One thing that keeps the stigma on Indie Authors is "they make boo-boo's." If you are lucky (and most of you are), you'll have someone who will proof-read for you for FREE (love, chocolates, a dinner and a free copy of your book - hardcover, if possible, signed - and a nice gift certificate to Border's at Christmas). Such saints are so caring that they have invested in your success. Such is a blessing - so pray on it, because God is now your agent."

BTW, the 14 year old who I am currently reading is amazing. I was writing at that age (8 actually and I'm 62 now), but my stuff was juvenalia personified. Not like this kinder of der Kindleboard.

Edward C. Patterson
I'll proofread for an amazon, iTunes or Godiva gift card. Seriously, though, I have to agree, never self-proof your work. It's the best way to miss things.
 

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koland said:
I've also read the worst examples of inability to create an English sentence in short stories available for Kindle (in the samples) ... if you can't put together at least the first 10% with decent grammar and proper spelling, please don't bother to publish it at all. If you haven't at least proofed it, then rewrote it, say two or three times, it isn't ready to publish either - anything which that mean English teacher back, in Freshman English, would have graded with an F, for effort, grammar or content, you shouldn't consider publishing (and some here have seen an example of recently, along with a flame war on Amazon forums over the author's posts). If you've never taken a class where failure was an option - please, sign up for one at a local college or attend a true writer's workshop (where they don't care if they hurt your feelings)***
As an author who waited until his writing skills matured before deciding to publish, I can understand why some authors are so eager to publish their works. However, I never understood why the authors whose works are sloppily written and poorly edited are the ones who least want to accept criticism. Even the best authors take their lumps from readers. But I'm curious to know why the authors with the least skill are the most defensive of their writing. I would think that we could all use a little criticism now and then. But when I see an author take their readers to task for daring to question why they would publish a book without making sure it is the best it can be is downright insane to me. If an author expects someone to pay money to read their works, they should take their products seriously enough to invest the time and energy to make certain that it is worth saying "available for sale".
 

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Because some people think of their writing as their babies and think that by commenting you're insulting their child.  I think people with such thin skins really need to find a new outlet.
 

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My editor, Peg, has worked and refused payment for 13 books now (and she even handles Chinese names - she's started on #14 already) and the last book (out on July 24th) kept her (not to mention me) in constant trauma (its about the AIDS crisis and she lost a son, not to AIDS, but a mother is a mother). Yet, she sticks with me and even if I found an editor with gold plated underwear, I wouldn't trade her in for a newer model. She does accept a hard covered copy of each of my works, of which I only make 2, privately. If you wanna talk about price. Wow. Dinner is always welcomed and she just got married (at the ripe young age of 67) and I wasn't stingy.

Edward C. Patterson
 

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Sadly enough, some of them have found a new outlet: Harrassing me. :(

Someone e-mailed me that another person was using my name to impersonate me and post on other forums.

Here is an example: (Just scroll down until you see the post made by Red Adept)

http://dvice.com/archives/2009/07/wefound-chinese.php

I know of two authors that were upset enough over reviews I did to have done this. I will not mention names, as I have no proof, well and I don't want to sink to that level anyway.

This is a prime example of people unable to take criticism. I truly think that I am fair in my reviews. Sure, if you can't spell anything longer than a four-letter word, I'm going to say something. I can't help it.

I'm with Mr. Patterson: Edit the doggone thing and you won't have these problems. If you can't edit, don't sell it.

P.S. I edit my forum posts more than some of the people edit their 'books' and 'stories'. :D And, I don't charge anyone to read them. 8)
 
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