Random Inspirations

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99 Cents Is the New $2.99: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of eBook Pricing

on January 27, 2014

eBooks have increased in popularity by leaps and bounds over the last few years. In fact, sales are up 4,456% since 2008! And why not? They’re accessible, they’re delivered instantly, there’s a wide variety to choose from…and they’re cheap.

KDP Select free days and Kindle Countdown Deals are the current trends on Amazon. Kindle Countdown Deals allow authors to discount their eBooks priced at $2.99 or higher for up to 7 days per 90 day KDP Select period. The book must be discounted by at least $1.00, and the minimum price with discount is $0.99. Authors like Kindle Countdown Deals because they continue to receive a 70% royalty on the books sold during this period — even if the books are priced lower than $2.99, the usual 70% royalty cutoff. And, of course, readers like Kindle Countdown Deals because they can get deep discounts on their favorite books.

cheap ebook


There’s a definite discount vibe that has pervaded the eBook industry in the past few years. When I published my first eBook in December 2011, most eBooks were priced at $2.99. However, in subsequent years, the hot price point has decreased to $0.99. Today, many full-length novels only cost $0.99 — in essence, 99 cents is the new $2.99. And with the advent of KDP Select free days, free eBooks have become so common that free is like the new 99 cents.

Free and cheap eBooks are awesome for readers. Low pricing allows them to take a chance on new authors or genres, and with the KDP Select free days, savvy consumers can download eBooks without ever paying a penny.

Many authors appreciate the concept of 99 cent and free eBooks as well. For new authors, low pricing is the perfect way to get their names out there and deliver their work into the hands of readers. When I first began publishing eBooks, I saw the 99 cent price point as my gateway; sell tons of cheap eBooks, and readers would be more likely to buy my later books priced at $2.99 or higher. But while it’s been relatively easy for my 99 cent books to rank in the top 10,000s on most days, I’m still working on cracking the $2.99 code.

Some authors, however, detest the cheapening of eBooks. Sometimes, I find myself falling into that camp. After all, writers are artists, crafting pictures with words. We spend weeks or months on our manuscripts, capturing the images and stories in our minds that just have to be told. We spend even more time honing those manuscripts, submitting them to editors, making changes, and doing the finishing touches. We hire cover designers, because people really do judge a book by its cover. We do keyword and SEO research to find the most discoverable category for our books. And then we promote the heck out of those books. I’ve said it before, and I’ll reiterate it here: indie authors aren’t just artists, they’re small business entrepreneurs. And the Walmart-esque standard of “everyday low prices” on our eBooks sometimes drives me crazy. No artist wants to feel like his or her art is cheapened.

What do you think about the trends in eBook pricing: good, bad, or ugly? I’d love to hear your opinions!



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