Kindle Prices, heading skyward again

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by David Sims, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again

    Sure. The last one that I saw that comes to mind I saw a week or two earlier.. . It is ben Franklin an American Life by Walter Isaacson on Amazon.

    Sorry. I would post the link but I forgot how to do it without all my information. But you can verify it easy enough.

    Paperback $11.90

    Kindle $14.99

    My memory is bad but I know I've come across it previously on fantasy books.

    I VERY rarely read biographies but I was looking for that because he fascinates me.
  2. Peat

    Peat Journeyed there and back again

    But what about people who are not sure if they'd like to read the book? Or would quite like to, but are not too fussed if they don't?

    That's the sort of people and situation I'm talking about. I agree that people who definitely want to read the book are going to read it regardless of price but I think there's a lot of people who are fairly ambivalent about a lot of books and to them in that situation, price point matters and they won't necessarily hunt down the book later if the price is wrong.

    Or at least, that's me :p There are very few books that I definitely want to read and a lot of books that I could be interested in reading. Price point is a pretty important consideration for me, if only because I need some way to make decisions.

    I would add though that its not uncommon for me to see people bitching about Ebook prices with definite "They ain't getting my money" tones. And I know a few people who've only grabbed X or Y because it was on sale or at the library. Speaking of which - if your library keeps up to date, lucky you. Mine doesn't.

    Speaking of ebooks that are more expensive than paper versions - - published 2016
  3. Ryan W. Mueller

    Ryan W. Mueller Ran bridges next to Kaladin

    The point I was trying to make on price is this:

    When an author is unknown to you but the book sounds interesting, you're much more likely to give it a chance for a lower price. I've picked up a lot of books at $2.99, .99, or even free (often the first books in series). I've enjoyed many of these books. If they had been, say, $11.99, I would have skipped right past them because I don't want to shell out that much money for an unknown author.

    This is where you'll also see a lot of self-published authors raise their prices as the series goes on. By Book 6, they know that the people reading the series are reading it because they like it. They can charge more for the product because they are no longer unknown authors to their readers. Obviously, you don't want to make the prices too high, but if your readers really love what you're writing, they'll be willing to pay a little more.

    That's why publishers can set high e-book prices for the Sandersons of the world. I'd also say that's not an absurdly high price for Oathbringer given the fact that it's a massive book from one of the most popular authors in the genre. A lot of work goes into creating a book like that.
  4. ExTended

    ExTended Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    What you are missing is that self-publishing and traditional publishing are two very different games.

    I myself don't self-publish that seriously as of yet, mostly non-fiction books, but more often than not I help some author friends or acquistances with their FB ads, it's my profession after all and I am glad to help whenever I can, and since I do it for free - sometimes I could call on a top 100 or top 500 amazon author and ask "Is this blurb cool, is this premise cool, do you think I am having a good chapter here" and I get priceless advice in return.

    What I've learned in my travels, both from the very succesful and from the very new people in the self-publishing field is this - the cost per customer elevates or kills your self-publishing business. It's true for any field actually, but especially true in the self-published world.

    If you have one or two self-published books - you are gonna have some fun trying to run profitable ads for those books. Especially if they aren't in a series. That's why people write series - it's always easier to have a patron drink a 4th beer while sitting at your bar, than to find 4 different people to sell one beer to each. The more easily accessible books you have in line - the more you make from your first sale to any single person. So the question with self-publishing isn't "How do I sell more", it's "How do I sell on profit". Once you've answered that, the question "How to I sell more" is a no-brainer.

    While in traditional publishing it's totally different. Because they have shelf spaces. And they have a wide array of authors who compliment each-other on each new book that one of them churns out. Also - marketing budgets geared toward branding and PR. Basically they have a wide variety of powerful tools to bring attention to their portfolio. Yup, they also have daunting portfolios of available books - so cool for them. The only question for them is - which authors in their portfolio are worth it to be promoted on any specific month. This also means that they are playing long-term and long-term for them is hardcovers shoved down on the readers, whether they want it or not, then paperbacks for the more patient ones, and e-books and audiobooks as a way to make that extra buck from the people who prefer their books fast and easy to access. They don't use prices to motivate the people to buy, they use them as a way to channel the readers attention to the items they think would make them the most money any given month. And unfortunately e-book and audiobook prices are a very nice motivator for people to buy hardcovers and paperbacks - this would always be the case and the things would only change if the printed books market depletes so much, that the e-books sales become the new deciding factor on which publishing house flourishes and which publishing houses gets out of business.

    So in my opinion the equasion will always be:
    More physical bookstores = more expensive e-books
    Less physical bookstores = cheaper e-books.

    At this point of the game - even if a site with such dominance over the e-book sales like Amazon suddenly dissapears and their ridiculous comissions on e-books dissapear with them, the average e-book price would still remain the same, because it doesn't reflect the effort( be it in time, resources or logistics) put into the product, but instead it reflects the e-book prices serving as a marketing instrument for the traditional publishers to keep their printed books sales high.

    So the more e-books we buy, the cheaper they'll eventually get. But mildly put - this would take some time.

    And to be completely honest here - I myself never sell a thing for 15$ if I can easily get 20$ instead, and none of my clients does this either, so in the end it's the old supply and demand thingy - while people buy at high prices, they cannot really expect low prices, it's only natural. :)
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  5. Alucard

    Alucard In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge! Staff Member

    Yeah this is just unacceptable.
    In your case Darth, because it's a 13 years old book, my hunch is that that the publisher doesn't really keep track of the prices for older books, as in revisits them. Plus it's non-fiction, so they probably don't get many complaints about it, otherwise they would do something.
    I've often seen publishers completely take down kindle edition or reduce the price, when there is a fuck up like this.
    In your case Peat, everything can be explained by two words: It's Disney. Lol.
    Seriously I think in both cases it's negligence, rather than a business tactic to charge more for kindle editions.
    I've yet to see a kindle book in fantasy genre by a major publisher that's a newer edition being sold more than paper. I saw it only one time and it was a copyright issue, and the edition was soon removed entirely. The US amazon had to wait for a licensed american edition to be published instead of issuing UK edition on US amazon.

    In that case it depends how big of a risk taker they are. I don't mind shelling out for full price like I did with Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale, when I never even heard of her. But I liked her concept well enough.
    In these situations I depend on this site and my intuition to decide on which books I will take a gander. Haven't had more than a few misses so far.

    Yes I agree. However my point was that it's the content of the book, recommendations, previous reads and known authors that play much bigger role for most people in deciding their next read compared to price of the book. Nobody decides to read something based of the price alone.
    There are books that are free, and I have no interest reading them ever in my life.

    Really? I'm quite opposite. I have too many I really want to read, and I will probably die and not manage to read them all.
    Price can be important, and it's nice to get a sale. I personally don't make the decision of wanting to read something based on the price, but based on content, author, and sometimes length lol. As I said, I can only manage about 30 books and so far this hobby is very much affordable for me, compared to other hobbies that people have.

    Yeah if you wanna get real nitpicky about how many hours of entertainment you can squeeze out of 17$, 1000 pages gives you a high payback.
  6. kenubrion

    kenubrion Journeyed there and back again

    After reading through the thread again, my opinion is that you don't. I'm convinced some do. Like me. Sometimes.
  7. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater Journeyed there and back again


    Here is another I just now remembered really ticking me off. It is very recent.

    Guy Gavriel Kay's Children of Earth and Sky. Amazon:

    Paperback $10.99

    Kindle $13.99
  8. Alucard

    Alucard In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge! Staff Member

    @Darth Tater
    Now that is just absurd. No excuse whatsoever. Shame on the Penguin!
  9. Hand of Fear

    Hand of Fear Journeyed there and back again

    I've only skimmed most of this thread so apologies here it's late in the UK, and I've had a few glasses of wine.

    So here goes why are ebooks more expensive than paperbacks or physical books ?
  10. Alucard

    Alucard In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge! Staff Member

    @Hand of Fear
    If it's an old book it could be justified because it takes a lot of work to digitalize paper.
    If it's a newer book, that starts as a digital copy, there's no excuse. Only explanation is greed or best case scenario negligence on part of publisher to adjust the prices.
  11. Theophania

    Theophania Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    Depends on what you regard as 'a lot of work'. In the days before many popular books were available as commercial ebooks, I digitalised a lot of mine. I bought a book scanner for about £150, which came with some decent OCR software. So I scanned each book - which took an hour or so. Then I did a quick spellchecker pass, to get rid of the most obvious errors. Then I did a final word-by-word check, and finally converted it to an ebook file.

    Yes, it took a few hours for each book - but it was pure grunt work. Some of the shorter books, I could burn through in a couple of evenings. Once the scanner/software was purchased, you could probably produce an excellent digital book copy for under £200, given that you probably wouldn't be paying the grunt top dollar; a bit more for long books.

    My explanation for high ebook prices is publishers trying to drive readers away from ebooks (which are controlled by Amazon) and back to paper books (over which the publisher has more control). Plus, the more people buy ebooks, the more authors are going to start thinking things like, "If my readers want to buy ebook files, what do I need a publisher for?" This is a very dangerous question for authors to be asking, because the answer is, "Actually, not much."

    Ebooks, I think, will eventually kill off tradpub as we currently know it. Tradpub, understandably, does not want to be killed off. They're quite happy the way things are, with the poor authors being the only people in the whole industry who can't earn a living wage from their craft.
  12. Nuomer1

    Nuomer1 Journeyed there and back again

    The answer is that we need a publisher to help with marketing. That is an area where most new authors have no knowledge - and often no particular desire to learn!
    If there were some structure in place to provide good advice and support in this area, then the Trad Publishers would be in deep trouble, very quickly,
    It would need to be a credible structure - there are lots of people out there offering marketing advice, and most of them can't even sell their own services effectively.
    And if you go into a bookstore you see a whole wall full of books, you can see how thick each one is, what proportion of the pages are graphics . . . the electronic substitutes aren't quite there yet.

    'Literary' works have a well-established network of reviewers - F/SF, particularly self-pub, doesn't have that yet. But the day will come.

    If I knew how to set this sort of thing up, I would do it - and maybe get rich! I am sure something suitable will evolve soon, but for now the only way to know what is going on (as author or reader) is to be very actively involved in sites like this; and not everybody has the motivation to do that.
  13. David Sims

    David Sims Told lies with Locke

    Back in 2010, I didn't know that I'd be having this conversation. If I did, I'd have made a meticulous survey, would have kept records, and would have data to show you that meets your apparent demand for rigor. Alas, I don't have those records.

    However, if you will but exercise your memory just a little, you will recall that not long ago most Kindle versions of books on Amazon were priced at $7.99. That used to be the most common price you saw for even popular new releases. Since about 2010, the prices of those books has climbed, going to 10.99, then 11.99, then 12.99, then 13.99, then 14.99, and now we've seen a book with a price-at-release of 16.99.

    Yes, the prices are going up. Production costs? No. The cost of no-paper, no-ink, and almost endless and nearly free duplicability by the publishers is exactly what it was seven years ago.
  14. Alucard

    Alucard In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge! Staff Member

    I don't remember all books being 7.99$
    It was always various depending on the author. Even now you can see the prices vary highly.
    No need to get snarky either. It was a genuine question and I still don't see anything to backup what your saying. When it comes to an argument that uses varifiable data, then you need to show data. Not opinions.
    I will change my mind without problem if anyone shows me actual data for supporting what you are saying. But so far I just see cherry picking examples that go along with your opinion.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  15. Nuomer1

    Nuomer1 Journeyed there and back again

    Amazon undoubtedly hold the records you require . . . whether they would be willing to release them is a very different question!
    Under UK law, at present, they could be forced to release the data (at least so far as UK prices go) but the applicant would need to jump through various hoops (Freedom of Information Act) and pay what are described as 'nominal administrative charges'
    I am not sufficiently bothered to jump through those hoops - and until someone does, I will rely on my memory, which (inadequate as it is) suggests that David Sims is guilty of very slight exaggeration, but came out pretty close to getting it right.
  16. Silvion Night

    Silvion Night Sir Readalot Staff Member

    There's a discussion on Reddit about this topic as well. Quite an interesting read really. Mark Lawrence also chipped in with a insightful contribution. You can read it here.
  17. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Journeyed there and back again

    I think this sums it up 100%. The same way cable providers are having to scramble to the paradigm shift as more and more people cut the cords.

    And, now to add another variable into the price equation we can't even agree on in the first place, Amazon is offering a reasonable priced print on demand paperback option for their KDP clients. I just received my first copy, and it's pretty legit.

    Plus, it also cuts out the tradpubs entirely, letting their KDP authors set their own price so long as it's a certain amount over the cost to print in the first place. It's too early to tell what this will do, but I have a feeling it's going to shake things up.
  18. Nuomer1

    Nuomer1 Journeyed there and back again

    Agreed. Print-on-demand has been around for a while, but I think it has just crossed a threshhold of awareness among potential consumers.
    I just wish Amazon had some serious competition, to help keep them honest! I think there are some very small organisations also working in this field, but Amazon is a giant - and giants are destructive, even when not malevolent!
  19. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Journeyed there and back again

    Yeah, print on demand's been around for a while, but it always ends up being pretty expensive when compared to tradpub paperbacks. I'm going to do a case study on my experience with the Amazon system later today, but it allows the author to control the price point. So I now have a paperback that's at a reasonable $7.99 and were I receive a bit more than the traditional 8% a tradpub author gets.

    But that price point is my choice. If I upped the price to $8.99, now I'm well above the 8%. In fact, for every dollar I add to the price, I get approximately another 8%.

    Yet I still get significantly more if someone buys the e-book at a significantly cheaper $2.99. And that, in my mind, is how things should be. People get whatever format they want (minus hardbacks) and I get to decide how to provide it for them.
  20. Nuomer1

    Nuomer1 Journeyed there and back again

    I will be interested to read your experiences. When I looked into it, Print-on-Demand through Amazon was only available if you locked into Amazon as your sole outlet (I haven't checked lately, that may not be true any more). My co-author and I discussed this at length and decided that Amazon was a branch of the Evil Empire, and we also released through Smashwords, preventing us from using CreateSpace. Next time we have a business meeting, that decision will probably be re-assessed.

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