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View Full Version : low price point key to high sales?



shaldna
08-21-2012, 01:34 PM
Came across this article yesterday, and on first reading I initially thought the book might be self-published, given the extremely low price point (20p) and the fact that it's an apparently newsworth story.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2190882/EL-James-Fifty-Shades-Grey-drops-Kindle-list-Alice-Petersons-Monday-Friday-Man-hits-top.html

On closer reading though it seems I was wrong - she's published by Quercus and this is her 7th book. And to be honest, half a million copies is a huge amount of sales for any book, so I guess it is newsworthy.

However, it got me thinking about what really sold the book - there are two reviews of it on amazon.com - neither of which are spectacular. On Amazon.co.uk however the book is doing really well - with a 4 1/2 star rating, and 104 5 star reviews out of 180 something total - so maybe it's faring better with a local audience.

I wondered also if the price was a factor in it's sales success - 20p is extremely low and would certainly encourage folks to take a chance on an author they haven't read before.

As a marketing tool pricing very low can be hugely beneficial, but normally only for short while, or to attract attention to a bigger catalogue of work / series etc. I don't often see bigger publishers doing it like this - pricing so low I mean.

It also got me thinking about how much money is being made/lost here. I mean, if she's getting royalties based on sale price and not cover price, that's gonna leave her with about 7p per copy after Amzon and her publisher take their cut - which means an earning of just 35k for selling half a million copies.

Obviously if she's getting royalties bases on the list price then she's making more. The digital list price is 2.68, and if she were getting 50% for digital sales, then she'd be making somewhere in the region of 470k - which is a big step up from 35k.

Anyway, thoughts?

WeaselFire
08-21-2012, 03:54 PM
As a marketing tool pricing very low can be hugely beneficial, but normally only for short while, or to attract attention to a bigger catalogue of work / series etc.
This is a disconnect that many make concerning epublishing in general. A retail item, produced in a factory, sells at a discount to attract sales. But it costs the seller hard dollars (or pounds) to do this. They pay $3 for an item and sell it at 99 cents, they lose actual money they already paid, not potential income from sales.

Ebooks cost the same (minimal) whether they sell for a lot or a little, and never cost 99 cents (or 20 p) to produce. So there's no actual loss (there's still the loss of potential earnings, but it's not real until it's in your pocket). Traditional publishers have higher production costs and, again, lose real dollars at low sales prices.

That said, there's no reality to why some things sell well. In general, good writing sells. But that sure doesn't explain 50 Shades.

Jeff

victoriastrauss
08-21-2012, 06:05 PM
Digital Book World has launched a new ebook best seller list (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeremygreenfield/2012/08/20/big-publishers-high-prices-dominate-e-book-best-sellers/), which punctures some of the conventional wisdom about both high and low price points.

According to the list, most of the top-selling ebooks are priced at $10 or above, and big publishers dominate at all price points--including under $2.99.

- Victoria

Mr Flibble
08-21-2012, 06:47 PM
Ebooks cost the same (minimal) whether they sell for a lot or a little, and never cost 99 cents (or 20 p) to produce. So there's no actual loss (there's still the loss of potential earnings, but it's not real until it's in your pocket).

Er, so editing, copy editing, proof reading, cover, marketing etc cost nothing? Those people are all working for free? What about the author advance, is that nothing too? (with the exception of the advance, because who knows) I think not. You still have all those costs if you produce an ebook though many self-pubbers do some themselves, and no advance, butwe're talking a trade publisher here, so it certainly cost them something. The difference is, costs are fairly fixed for ebooks, whether you sell one or one million, whereas ppb isn't as you have the cost of the book being printed. Which can be as little as 20p per copy (depending on format) according to one editor, so not a huge mount of per cover cost. In fact, for your average ppb, er, *calculates quickly* a little over 2% for a 7.99 book. Take off the cost of printing, it's still 7.79 rrp.


Now, as to the OP...they've sold a lot of books. But I wonder how many will get read? Do they care if people then go on and buy other books of theirs/the authors? Hmm. Be interesting to see any sales spike elsewhere because of it.

Xelebes
08-21-2012, 08:10 PM
Books, along with other media have a different kind of elasticity than the normal day to day purchases as the lifespan of a book is the entire product cycle. Pricing it low might drive early sales, but if the book does not catch on, it will never break even. Pricing it high might delay or drive away early sales, but those who do buy it might make the book a prestige item and drive sales later on in the product cycle.

It depends entirely on the window of opportunity the publishers and booksellers are willing to give a book.

James D. Macdonald
08-21-2012, 08:21 PM
If you can do the math, this is a mini-max equation. You're trying to maximize income. You have number of sales, you have prices. If a low price brings more sales, how many more sales do you have to get to offset the lower income per each?

Looking at my own self-published works some months back, taking the two highest sellers at the price points $0.99 and $2.99, I found the $0.99 book sold 700% more than the $2.99 book, but only brought in 35% more money.

Currently my best book, in terms of dollars-per-week, is also my highest-priced volume.

shaldna
08-22-2012, 11:25 AM
I've been thinking about this a lot, and when I spoke to a friend about it she compared it to cars.

You can sell 10 Corsas, or you can sell one Rolls, and you're still going to make the same money.

But, I'm not entirely sure that a crazy low price point is a good thing for a writer (or the industry in general) I mean, I feel like we are devaluing our work to the point where we aren't making anything.

Last year I changed the price of my self e-published book from $0.99 to $4.95 and actually saw a huge RISE in sales. Which got me thinking about the perception of quality based on price.

bearilou
08-22-2012, 04:44 PM
Last year I changed the price of my self e-published book from $0.99 to $4.95 and actually saw a huge RISE in sales. Which got me thinking about the perception of quality based on price.

Some time back I was reading a thread about writing erotica short stories and selling them on Amazon. One of the things discussed was pricing. The writer running the discussion said she had more favorable sales when she priced her short stories (apparently they ran from 3-5k, rarely less and always priced accordingly if less or more) at a certain price point that was not $0.99.

It seemed counter-intuitive that people bought 3k short stories more often at $2.99 than at $0.99 but she said they did. Sure there was the occasional negative reviewer that complained about the length being sold at $2.99 but it wasn't apparently a huge outcry.

Not sure what I make of that but this writer hasn't been the first to suggest that the $0.99 price on any book has a tendency to be perceived as less quality work than something priced higher* and that pricing higher has lead to increased sales. Not to mention being priced at the $2.99 had the higher royalty rate associated with it.

*Certainly, offering something for sale at $0.99 is useful for marketing or bundling purposes and that's not the case I'm really talking about here.

JamesOliv
08-22-2012, 07:10 PM
The other day I was mildly curious as to what sort of work a particular publisher had published in the past.

One of the books was available for the kindle at $3. I wasn't won over by the description and it didn't sound like something I would normally read.

But for $3, what the heck?

If it had been over say, $6, I never would have bought it. I would have looked for a cheap used paperback copy on half.com or just lived without it.

I held off on buying a copy of Iliad by Homer because of the cost (this was back in high school). I only recently purchased it, because it was on sale for $5 at B&N.

S low price point made me buy a book I had no interest in and a book I had grea interest in but hadn't purchased before.

Is it a magic bullet? No. But I don't think low price point hurts sales.

gothicangel
08-22-2012, 07:30 PM
I held off on buying a copy of Iliad by Homer because of the cost (this was back in high school). I only recently purchased it, because it was on sale for $5 at B&N.



Or you could have downloaded it as an e-book from Amazon for $0.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Iliad-ebook/dp/B0082TAAMO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345649092&sr=1-1 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Iliad-ebook/dp/B0082TAAMO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345649092&sr=1-1)

I do believe though that the low-price e-book is a bubble, and by Christmas 2013 it will have burst. The idea that it builds a platform for new writers is false logic.

I'm also suspicious any figures given out by Amazon, until they begin to release audit data.

Tirjasdyn
08-22-2012, 07:40 PM
Pricing is such a huge sticking point. It depends on the reader and how they value something.

A new author maybe able to garner readers with a .99 price point, however they have to do more work to see a return and alienate a portion of the population who see a low price and assume it must not be good to be so low.

Price it above $10 and if it's good, people see the value it in and may pay for the price and encourage others to do so...but if it's not good, $10 or more would become a reason not to buy it.

If you're well known, a higher price may be an easy sell because people value your work or opinion or how you look in a mini skirt. Pricing something low as well known person can and is usually seen as a "gift" to the community/fans/etc, generating even more sales.

Bigger publishers have to take into account the workforce behind the book, selfpubs usually don't (but probably should).

Pricing and value can be very different things. Lemonade for 5 cents may be kids stuff but the same lemonade priced at 59.99 becomes tres chique and a status symbol. This happens across all markets.

The price can make or break a book, but not aways in the way that makes sense.

JamesOliv
08-24-2012, 03:54 AM
Or you could have downloaded it as an e-book from Amazon for $0.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Iliad-ebook/dp/B0082TAAMO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345649092&sr=1-1 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Iliad-ebook/dp/B0082TAAMO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345649092&sr=1-1)

I do believe though that the low-price e-book is a bubble, and by Christmas 2013 it will have burst. The idea that it builds a platform for new writers is false logic.

I'm also suspicious any figures given out by Amazon, until they begin to release audit data.

I also could have done without it.

I didn't want an ebook. I wanted a physical, old fashioned book to sit on my shelf and show visitors how well rounded I am.

Rubay H.
08-24-2012, 08:52 AM
Interesting topic since I've been playing around with prices on my self-pubs.
J.K Rowling's Publisher seems to playing around with price-points, too.
Her soon to be released The Casual Vacancy is priced at $17.99 on all e-book platforms.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Casual-Vacancy-ebook/dp/B007THA4FI/ref=kinw_dp_ke

I'm sorry, but I've seen self-pubs with better covers and blurbs. I'm kind of still wondering if this is a joke? :Shrug:

Max Vaehling
08-24-2012, 03:16 PM
And here's yet another survey about pricing making an interesting point:

http://www.epublishabook.com/2012/08/20/how-much-for-your-ebook/

No idea how repsresentative the numbers are, but the table shows two sales peaks: One at $0.99, and one, slightly higher, at $2-$2.99, diminishing from there.

The interesting bit is that there's a gaping hole at $1 - $1.99, suggesting that the two peaking price points speak two two different audiences (otherwise, there would be a more continuous flow). The low price for audiences who just want to check stuff out but don't already value it, and the higher price point for actual readers. (Simplifying here.) Zoe of the Webcomics Company (http://www.webcomics.co/), in a podcast about pricing, mentioned that low-end pricing tends to attract clients who don't really value the authors' works, trolling in the comments section and generally being rude to the author whom they seem to think they own whereas people who spent more money on the books appear to show more respect. (No, I don't remember which episode that was. Maybe this one. (http://www.webcomics.co/2012/05/22/episode-27-digital-comics-and-dcs-new-52/))

It doesn't necessarily contradict the link Victoria posted somewhere upthread, as what works for established authors and publishers may not work the same for newbies. The higher the market value you already have, the higher the price you'd have to ask to not be considered 'cheap' in the bad sense of the word. Plus, the higher a top price you can get away with.