Friday, April 1, 2011

Thoughts on ebook pricing and an unscientific sampling of data.

After my recent post about boycotting some publishers regarding their ebook policies towards libraries, I ended up in a discussion with a friend about "Big Publishing", "Smaller company publishing" and "Self-publishing".  I know that I now buy more self published and smaller publishing house books than I buy "Big Publishing" books. I never did this before I got my nook.  This got me to thinking about what exactly do Kindle readers buy?  I use Kindle information here, as Barnes and Noble separates out the "self-pubbed" authors from "normal" or what others like to call "legacy" publishers, and I was curious about the intermixing of the two.  I was also curious to see what percentage the "Big 6" publishers sell, as there are 3 publishers I refuse to buy new books from.

So my unscientific survey:
Out of the top 100 ebooks sold on Amazon as of roughly 1230am MST 4/1:

  • 41 were $3.00 or less, 6 were $3.01 to 6.00, 9 were priced at $6.01 - 8.00, 11 were $8.01-10.00, 7 were $10.01 to 12.00 and 26 were priced greater than $12.00.
  • 48 of the titles were from the Big 6 publishers or their imprints, 52 were not. (On the New York Times ebook best seller list, I counted only 8 fiction and 6 non-fiction books that weren't Big 6 out of the 70 titles listed.)
  • 65 had their ebook pricing less than the lowest price of the available print copy on Amazon, 19 had no print copy available, 7 had the same pricing, whether ebook or print, and 9 had ebook pricing higher than print. Of those where ebooks were the same or higher than print, all 16 were from the Big 6.

So what are my hypotheses regarding this informal survey?

  1. If your ebook is priced higher than what Amazon or a big box store can sell a print copy for, you won't sell many copies of your ebooks.
  2. The Big 6 do not have near the market in ebooks that they have in print, right around 50% of the market by volume.
  3. The New York Times is hopelessly out of the loop regarding ebooks (or deliberately ignoring data).
  4. Despite Amazon making a fuss last year about a $9.99 maximum price for ebooks, there is a market for $12.99 ebooks, provided it's still cheaper than what the corresponding hardback sells for on Amazon.
  5. Although there is a market for $12.99 ebooks, it's not a very large market as fully two thirds were priced at 9.99 or less.
  6. There is something almost magical about the $0.99 or $2.99 ebook, which I think I'll save for another blog post.

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