How much should a book cost?

book prices

 

Pricing books is a science.

But it is also a matter of gut instinct.

As a reader, do you judge a book by its price?  To what extent does a book’s price determine whether you will buy it?

These questions are front and center in the new world of digital publishing.  The day when publishers stuck a $25 price tag on a hard cover book and said , “Take it or leave it,” are long gone.

Now the same hardcover book that is priced at $25 will sit next to its $5.99 digital version on an Amazon shelf.

That’s not a hard call for a book buyer, unless she is one for whom money is no object.

I suspect few buyers in today’s market are in that category.

The inexpensiveness of digital books is a trend that will not reverse itself.  Rather the genius of digital is that content is not only more available than ever, it costs less.

I suppose the debate would be different if digital and print versions of the same book represented variations in the text.  In other words, if a cheaper digital version was an abridged edition, then we would be comparing apples to oranges.

However, that is simply not the case.

The books are the same.

Or actually the digital book is the same but better.

Better in what sense?

A reader can use the features of an ereader to bookmark pages, share them on social media, search for passages, leave a review with the stroke of a button. Plus a reader can carry a library of her favorite books in the palm of her hand. She can jump from book to book, or buy other books on a whim. If she likes to listen to books, she can use the Audible app to download the book on her smart phone and listen to it on her car radio or with ear buds.

She can’t do any of that with the $25 print version.

All this circles me back to the original question.

How much should a book cost?

The sweet spot for digital books right now is about $3.99.  That number may vary somewhat over the next few years, but I doubt we will see a dramatic change.  At $3.99 an author can make a decent amount on a book she sells on Amazon Kindle.  With a 70% royalty, she makes $2.79 per sale. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it compares favorably to what authors for traditional houses make on the sale of one of those $25 hardbacks.

Inexpensive digital books are a win-win for authors and readers.

But the nagging question remains.

Do readers view inexpensive digital books as books that are lower in quality than more expensive ones?

How much should a good book cost?

What do you think?

 

 

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