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Readers expect low ebook prices

28 November 2016

The question of how to price ebooks is still of great concern to indie authors and to publishers alike, and recent research from Good e-Reader reveals that readers are prepared to pay disappointingly little. Over the last two months they asked 553 Americans how much they were prepared to pay for a new e-book and the results are sobering.

Publishers have tried hard to establish $9.99 as a standard price, but only 15.91% said they were prepared to pay that much - which is probably why major publishers have found their sales of e-books dropping 26% in the last two years.

It's not all that comforting for self-publishers (who usually price lower) to find that only 29.11% of those asked thought that they were willing to pay $5.99. Then there were a substantial 24.95% who said they were only willing to pay $1.99 and a full 14.1% who said they'd only pay a meagre $.99.

So, with the vast majority of buyers saying they wouldn't shell out more than $5.99, it's a bit dismal for authors. How are they going to sustain themselves with such a low prices for the ebook editions of their books, especially given the discounts they get from organisations such as CreateSpace and Lulu?

Pricing is being used very widely by indie authors to attract readers to try out an unknown writer. What these figures don't give you any sense of is how much that tactic can be abandoned in favour of higher prices once the author gets some traction in the market.

The bigger question is whether these very low e-book prices have permanently reduced expectations about the price of a book.

Research - How much would you pay for a new eBook?