- We desire readers above all things. To try and attract them we give away a lot of books (print too) and we come out with a 99¢ price in all the retail locations that let us.
- We are not allowed to have prices that low in many locations. Some of our retailers are very harsh about pricing. Some of them demand to be the lowest, and they still set the minimum price. (See, not even the retailers really know a fair price for ebooks.)
- Some of our favorite retailers are jumping off points - that is, if we put our book there, that retailer will share us out to other affiliate sites. At this point, pricing can become a nightmare. Did you know, some retailers will tack on whatever markup they desire? We must have been daft to think they wouldn't. That is the way retail works. But, if they increase the price, do we get more commission on that sale? We must have been daft to think we would. That is not the way retail works.
- Because we have different prices everywhere, and sales really happen in the sites most convenient to the reader, authors cannot really tell if a reduced price is causing sales. It takes a good handful of sales to see trends, and like me, some authors only sell a book or two a week. There is no marketing strategy for that. Believe me, I've looked for one. I sell just as many ebooks at $2.99 as I do at 99¢.
That one price, if we all seem to think it is fair, seems to drag a very troublesome question with it. Aren't our books worth more than that? Certainly print books are. But those are a definable commodity. Ebooks are less easy to price, because they don't cost anything to store and deliver. Regardless of what retailers tells us, they have no operating cost on any electronic information they deliver. But as an entertainment item, it has value, and retailers want their piece of that. Authors are Ok with that, and mostly feel that ebooks just shouldn't be priced the same as print books.
Major retailers are selling a lot of ebooks at print prices, though. How the hell are they doing that? That might have a simple answer. 80% of the book buying public may have never hear the word Indie. Unless they have an author friend on Facebook, readers in general may think ebooks are faddish, gadgety - in short...toys.
At this point, ebooks do have a problem we would like to overcome. Ebooks exist in almost too many forms. There are quite a few types of formats. We really won't get into that subject, because formatting is the first thing that will cause an groan to escape an author's lips.
Ebooks are still trying to find the most user-friendly state of existence. Gadget builders want to produce the very best screen view, and some are even playing with color screens. The reading public is less confused about cell phones actually, than they are with which type of ebook reader to buy. Cell phones have been around a very long time now. Ebooks still feel new.
Does that answer much then, about how to price these things. Yes. Ebooks should be priced at the dollar the author desires. Only the author really knows what they want to accomplish with their book. I believe that retailers should be less formal about this, but that is not going to happen. For myself, all I can do is set my price as low as I can get it, and have that price be uniform in all my retail locations. That is appearing to be $2.99. I will still give away books wherever I wish. One or two of my retail sites will allow me to drop to 99¢ when I desire - I will still have promotions and sales. But, I won't be confused about my price after May 1st. Hopefully, neither will the readers who find me on twenty different websites.