Wednesday, March 19, 2014

E-book Cost: How much is too much?

I have a confession to make: I'm somewhat of a budget shopper when it comes to books. Don't get me wrong, as an author I know just how important it is to have people support what you do. When I really love a book, I will buy the print copy, and set it up on my bookshelf like a glamorous trophy once I'm done reading it. But when it comes to e-books, cost can be a serious factor when I go to pick one up. Anything over $3.99 just feels way over budget, especially if the author is one I've never read before. 

Maybe it's because the print price is listed on the same page, and the gap just feels too small to justify. As guilty as I start feeling, I start thinking through the used bookstores that might offer it for cheaper. $9 may not seem too crazy to some readers, but my heart starts beating a little faster when I realize the impact even 10 of those books would have on my bank account. At least with a print copy I feel like I have something to show for it. I feel a greater sense of ownership with a print edition. I can highlight if I wanted, I can get it signed, I can save it as a collectible. Those little data codes in my e-reader? My computer? I always feel like I'm just borrowing them. Why would I want to borrow a book for half the cost of owning it?

This dilemma has always plagued me, ever since the start of the e-book revolution. When the Hunger Games came out, I spent a full week debating buying the print of electronic edition to read. If I loved the book, I would have been sad I didn't buy the print edition, but if it wasn't my cup of tea, the money I saved on the e-book would make me feel happier. 

There have been several studies about e-book price point verses sales volume. Smashwords published findings last year that showed the 'sweet points' for e-books were at $.99, and between $2.00 and $3.99. Many of the traditional print books I see fall in the $7.00 and up category, which is often double what many of these Indie authors are pricing at. As a consumer, I can see where some of the patterns kick into play. A $.99 cent book usually isn't one I expect to be 'great', a $7.00 book just feels full of itself. By staying in the middle ground, the pricing allows readers to take a risk without feeling like they are being cheated out of their money.

So what are your thoughts? How much is too much for an e-book?

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting post! I've found that the $2.99 price point seems like a good middle ground for ebooks. I also totally agree with you about not feeling like you really have something to "show" for your money with the higher-priced ebooks. I tend to buy mostly less expensive ebooks...and hardcovers at the bookstore. The $9 ebooks? Not so much.