Are eBooks Too Cheap?

The pricing of e-books is a tricky balance. On the one hand, publishers and booksellers don’t want to undercut their print editions; on the other are ebook buyers who demand lower prices for a digital product that they can’t lend, resell or transfer.

‚ÄúThe concept that because a book is an e-book it should automatically be priced significantly lower than a paper book is one we don‚Äôt agree with,‚Äù said Carolyn Reidy, chief executive of Simon & Schuster. ‚ÄúWhat a consumer is buying is the content, not necessarily the format.‚Äù – NYT May 16, 2009 “Steal This Book (for $9.99)

Publishers, who sell ebooks to Amazon for 50% of their set retail price, no matter what the sale price is, are worried that Amazon’s pricing of ebooks at $9.99 is leading to reader expectations of cheap ebooks which may cease to exist when Amazon stops subsidizing the price of Kindle editions.

Simba Information has released a report noting that ebook prices between July 2008 and June 2009 have dropped at both and Sony’s ebook store.

In July 2008, the top 25 titles on Amazon’s bestseller list for the four weeks averaged $9.25 and the top 25 in June 2009 averaged $8.04 after decreasing fairly steadily during the interim. For Sony, after starting at $10.13 in July 2008 then increasing to $11.68 in November thanks to a few well selling bundles, the average price of the top 25 fell to $9.97 in June.

It’s true that a publishers costs do not disappear entirely with digitally delivered books. The costs of writing, editing and marketing are the same no matter how a book is published. A digital edition, while avoiding costs associated with shipping, warehousing, printing, binding and returns, still has some added costs incurred in conversion and testing.

And while sales remain low, those costs might actually keep publishers from earning as much as they’d like with their ebook editions.
However, like all publishing, there is an economy of scale here. If you spend the money to produce an ebook and only 200 copies are sold, each copy has cost you a considerable amount of money, so you’re probably losing money at $9.99 per book. If 2,000 copies are sold, your cost per copy is less and profit is greater.. If 2,000,000 copies are sold, your cost per copy is negligible, and $9.99 is a darn good price indeed.

The problem is that if you begin by pricing your books higher than the ebook buying public is willing to spend, you’ll never reach the scale where ebooks are a major profit center.

So, perhaps Amazon is doing publishers a favor by cutting their prices and taking the hit while it tries to take ebooks to the masses.

Readers have vehemently told the market that after paying for expensive readers with the promise of lower cost digital editions, they’re not willing to spend more than $9.99… even for their favorite authors. Rather than rant about what the market demands, publishers should pick a side. Either stop creating ebooks for Amazon and Sony bookstores, or work with digital booksellers to push sales to a point where the books can comfortably be supplied at the price the market demands.

Building Your Reputation on Amazon – Even Before You’re Published

Everyone knows is an online book store. But did you know it’s also a social networking site?

At, your community revolves around your profile. If you have ever bought a book at Amazon, you have a profile that you can fill in with details about yourself and your interests, and people you can befriend. If you’re an aspiring author, a beefed up profile at with lots of friends and related content can be a strong addition to your book proposal’s marketing plan.

Your profile page can be accessed from the “My Account” page after you log in to Amazon. The first thing you’ll want to do when you get there is add a photo. A headshot is usually preferable, but if you are planning on writing about dogs, or surfing, or recumbent bicycles, a picture of you doing a related activity is great too.

Fill in your about box and interests with as much interesting information as possible. Add your website URL as well. There’s an event calendar that you can add events to. If you are going to be at any conferences or niche related events, be sure to add them.

Next, you’re going to start browsing through book listings in your niche or genre. Review and tag as many books as you can, and while you’re going through the list, click on the names of everyone else who has reviewed those books. On their profile pages you can add them to your “Interesting People” list, and/or invite them to become your Amazon friend.

Create at least one Listmania list, and one So You’d Like To… guide in your genre or niche

Finally, participate in the forums. Scroll down on any book page in your niche or genre and you’ll find a section called “Active discussions in related forums.” In these sections you’ll find different threads in the forums that you can participate in. Answer questions and comment appropriately whenever you can. Everyone you interact with in these forums will also have profile pages, so you can add them as friends or as interesting people.

Like any social media, you will get as much out of this as you put in. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can build up a following at Amazon before you even have a book published.