I was going through my timeline the other day on FaceBook and came across a post someone had placed, another author even, who said she would “… never again spend $9.99 for an ebook.” Apparently she had recently purchased an eBook at that price and, it wasn’t that she thought the book was bad – Not.At.All – in fact, she thought the book she had just finished was good but, still, she felt she had been a victim of price-gouging. Paying that price for a paperback? Not a problem. In a heartbeat she wouldn’t have had a second thought.
Others chimed in to support her, agreeing that eBooks priced beyond $3.99 were too high since the cost is minimal to produce and there were no recurring costs; another, stated the only purpose of even having an eReader was to be able to buy books at a low price – unless it was for a non-fiction book.
Is it just me that thinks this is ludicrous? I certainly hope not.
If consumers (and that includes authors since we are readers as well) feel it’s not only fair, but Justified, to pay an author of a book anywhere from zero to less than $4.00 a book, we will NEVER get the price point up to where it deserves to be. I was one of the schlups who bought the hype and paid $9.99 for the Fifty Shades eBook. After I read the first book, I couldn’t believe the poor writing, and figured heck, she’s got to have improved by Book 2, so I paid another $9.99 for that one. (And no, I didn’t give her a third chance.) Not once, and I’m going to repeat that…not one time, did I regret spending the money – only the time I devoted in reading it.
And, let me put this out there before anyone thinks otherwise: I work a 9 – 5 job each week, come home and write sometimes until almost daybreak. I’m not rich by any standards. But, here’s another thing about me: Writing is not a hobby, I HAVE to write. It’s my passion. Maybe those fellow authors who complained choose to write as a hobby and they don’t see their time and effort worth any more than a couple of bucks. I don’t know – I just don’t get it. I hope that my books, the ones I toil over, become sleep deprived over, have little contact with friends and family because of, can support me one day. That’s my goal and, I believe, most serious writers’ goal, but we’re not going to meet that goal on being paid less than minimum wage for each eBook sold.
In case you weren’t familiar with the latest info, the Federal Minimum Wage is now $7.25 for ONE hour’s work. So, in essence, the price of an eBook doesn’t even merit a one hour’s worth of pay at minimum wage. Minimal cost to produce? (If I could embed a laugh track here, I would.) How about the umm, I don’t know, five hundred+++ hours it took to write the book from conception to editing to the formatting that goes into uploading onto the various outlets for sale; the author’s own out-of-pocket cost for a proofreader, an editor, a cover designer; and, at the end of the road, the split you give to the eBook retailers for their share to sell on their site. And, I haven’t even gotten to the cost of advertising a book.
I’m not throwing it out there that the cost of eBooks should be a standard $9.99 but I AM saying, why not? Why should the price differential be significantly different from the paperback? I beg to differ that the (only) reason you own an eReader is to buy books at a cheaper price. I bought mine for the convenience of downloading a book right then and there when I wanted it; to be able to read it outside in the sun; to read it in bed with no lights on; for the light-weight feeling compared to the weight of a 400+ page book; to be able to place it in a stand and touch the screen to flip a page while I’m eating dinner or, putting together a recipe from a cookbook I’ve downloaded; and all the other amenities included: highlighting, instant dictionary, instant find; all my books stored in one handheld tablet. You’ll notice I didn’t mention any reason was because the price of the book was lower. What kind of sense does that statement even MAKE when you’ve shelled out anywhere from $100 – $200 alone for your eReader.
I haven’t even touched on being able to lend books you’ve bought with another friend; to check-out eBooks from your local library; to join Amazon Prime and “borrow” one book a month. eReaders offer so much more than to just “download cheap books”. For not having any kind of wait time to receive and begin reading your book within minutes of purchase; and/or, to receive a book within minutes of its publication should in and of itself justify a price-point equal to a paperback. Your cost benefit? No shipping and handling.
We’re getting there. Two years ago, it wasn’t even called a promo for your book to be in the “Free” bin. It was where everyone started, particularly if you were new to publishing. Those days are now a bad memory. Even now, 99₵ is only seen when you have it on promo and frankly, I hope to see that go by the wayside within the next year as well. With the “Click to Look Inside” feature on Amazon and B&N, readers are becoming accustomed to the fact that they don’t have to take a chance on an unknown book or author anymore.
I can’t tell you how many books whose description enticed me, ready to buy it, only to use the “Click”, read a few chapters, and change my mind. Money, and reading time, saved.
As independent authors, I would hope some unification could be achieved to continually keep the price train on a forward incline; and, to support each other in this effort. While I don’t expect a huge royalty with each eBook sold, neither do I expect that a fellow author consider any price as gouging.