Upward price creep for Kindle fantasy novels

David Sims

Warded demons with Arlen
Several years ago, I said that the prices of fantasy novels could be approximately predicted by the number of years we are into the 21st century.

It's 2019, and here's a Kindle fantasy novel priced at (about) $19.

Dark Magic: The Godwars 2,
by Angus Wells

Now, granted, this is the upper limit (as far as I know) for fantasy novels this year. But there are lots of Kindle fantasy novels that are almost up there, too. Indeed, $15 seems to have become pretty standard as the price when a new novel is released. George RR Martin's Fire & Blood presently sells for $16 in Kindle format. The Vindication of Man by John C. Wright and Siege of Stone: Sister of Darkness: The Nicci Chronicles, Volume III by Terry Goodkind are both selling for $17.

I've acquired the habit of waiting three years, and longer if necessary, for the price of a book to fall to something acceptable. What that is, I won't say here. And it isn't the same upper limit for all books anyway.


Journeyed there and back again
The minimum wage in my country currently is around 300$/month.

The current price for paperback of Book of Dust( 2017 ) in my country is 15.00$ and the e-book is 8.00$, so approximately 5% and 2.1% of the minimum monthly wage.

Amazon Kindle e-book in US of the same book is 9.50$ and paperback is again around 15.00$. So not that big of a difference, except that the minimum wage in US is 300$ per week, so the same book is basically 4 times cheaper for a US citizen( because you can buy 410-420% more books with your monthly salary).

I'm not saying that book prices aren't astronomically high, but there are places in the world where it's even worse than US and in small countries like mine - reading is a luxury, same as being a smoker is.


Journeyed there and back again
You can always become a work at home fantasy books blogger who's crushing it and makes millions from his weekly "Dragons and Pipe Smoke" literature reviews I guess...


Journeyed there and back again
Well, it's neither here nor there.

The sad truth is that no matter how much you pay, the most that ever gets to the author is 10%, or 15% in very rare cases. Printing the book costs another 5-10% of the total price and you're left with 30% for the publisher and 50% for the bookstore.

We are not paying so much for the paper and for the author's time, but for the book's marketing, the publisher's profits and for the bookstore's rent.

It's even worse for the e-book versions of those same books where the cost of warehousing/printing/formatting/editing/distributing is so close to 0 it practically is 0.
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Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
You're preaching to the choir there. But the self publishing option is stealing away some talent, as demonstrated by Michael Sullivan (albeit being aware he started as self published) saying he's going self published from here on out. He's of a mind that the next crop of fantasy authors are going to forego trad publishing for a bigger slice of the pie, which will soon start pulling away some of the trad published authors.


Journeyed there and back again
. . . next crop of fantasy authors are going to forego trad publishing for a bigger slice of the pie, .
Bit of a problem there.
If authors take the self-pub route they very soon discover that even if they have adequate (or even good, maybe even 'outstanding') product, they still have to spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, keeping their website/blog up to date, doing a signing session at Waterstones, giving a speech at the local book club, getting their name in the paper etc. etc. It probably adds up to significantly more time on marketing and publicity than they are able to spend on writing!
Trad publishing from 20 years back (or thereabouts) involved the publisher doing the majority of the advertising, publicity, etc. Nowadays, they expect the author to put a lot more in (in terms of the list above,and maybe some extras) and they still take their rake-off . . .
But not all authors want to spend their time on those activities (and some are not very good at it!)

This situation illustrates the extent to which marketing is more important than quality - and that is bad news!

Noor Al-Shanti

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
Yeah, if I bought all - or even a small fraction - of the books I read I would be beyond broke. I look at some of these prices and just laugh sometimes. And it's sad, because the author, as you guys mentioned, often gets very little of these inflated prices. I rely on my public library having either a hard copy or an overdrive ebook (and I wait patiently for the book with the long waitlists) or, if it's not at the library I often give up on it and stick to self-published books which are much more reasonably priced - and I know the author is getting a larger share!


Warded demons with Arlen
First of all, I wouldn't pay that much for an e-book. Ever. By way of example, when The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison came out, I was interested but it was something like $18 and I balked. I also put it on ereaderiq.com and waited for a price drop. I eventually got it for under $5 but checking just now I see it's $8.99.

I'm actually finding better books among the indies than big 5 publishers, who cater for the lowest common denominator. There are exceptions but books written for 12-year-old girls just don't appeal to me and the majority of what I see under 'Fantasy' from these publishers fall into that category, even if the readers are mostly adult.

Publishers, even big publishers, expect authors to go out on social media and promote themselves these days. How many mailing lists can you join before it takes over your in-box? I prefer to sample books that look interesting and mine forums for recommendations. I find some real treasures that no one ever heard of sometimes.


Journeyed there and back again
I'm actually finding better books among the indies than big 5 publishers
Nice to see you back Alicia and you might try bookbub.com which has more on target recs than any other site I am signed up with for bargains on current books, usually $1.99 and $2.99 and not just one day sales like Amazon's daily deals. Someone here mentioned it a couple years ago and it's been great. Kindle Unlimited is $10 per year and you get new and current indie books for free up to 10 borrows at a time.


Journeyed there and back again
Yeah, Bookbub is like the end-all website/service for self-published authors' promotions options in terms of efficiency, so everybody is fighting tooth and nails to be featured at their website and I've heard it's damn hard, because they have a certain threshold for number of Amazon reviews and number of stars rating before they'd even consider taking your money for a paid promo.

Landing a BookBub promo in the self-publishing world is almost like landing a trad publishing contract type of event, so they're legit in terms of vetting their recommendations based on reviews/ratingsand only working with the most reputable indie authors out there as a rule.

I'm usually finding my self-pub recommendations from forums, though. I don't have all that much time to spend on self-pubbed books, so I try to go after the best rated stuff among the people who share similar tastes with me.

Matticus Primal

Journeyed there and back again
The bookbub well has mostly dried up for the self-publishers. Or it's the beginning of the end in that the traditional publishers are now scooping up all the slots. As in on Feb 7th, Michael Crichton and John Irving were featured (I know a fellow self pubber who keeps a rage list of these but I can't find all of it at the moment). So while it still can add a huge boost, it's not what it was a few years back, and a lot of self pubbed authors aren't even making their investment back anymore.

Which is kind of funny in that its success was built by the hard work of the self publishing folks but once it was proven to be viable, the trads came in to ruin it for us.

Ryan W. Mueller

Journeyed there and back again
I think it's publishers hoping that people will not care what format they get the book in and will be willing to pay the same for an e-book as they would for a hardback. That way, the publishers can make a bigger profit because there are pretty much no production costs (obviously there's still a lot of work that goes in, but not in the physical production).

I'm fine with publishers setting their prices high because it gives self-published authors a chance to offer greater value. As a reader, I've found that many self-published titles are just as entertaining, if not more so, than trade-published titles. They may not have all the polish, but I can look past that as a reader.