What’s Your Limit?

I belong to an online group for authors in which the discussion of the price for ebooks keeps popping up. In the last couple years, a lot of authors became bestsellers with free or 99-cent books. But so many authors are doing this now that it’s harder for the readers to find the book. And because of the abundance of free books, there are a lot of readers who only download free books.

But there are still readers who use the free or lower priced books to find new authors. If they love or like the book, they will buy the authors’ other books. So if the authors get a small percent of these dedicated readers, it might be worth it.

Other authors on the group have gone the opposite way, raising their prices. There are readers who believe that the more they pay the more value they get. And the more they pay, the more the author gets. 🙂 These are dedicated readers, too. There’s a school of thought that says “you get what you pay for.”

This led to a discussion on what we’ll pay. Every writer I know is also a reader and we buy books, too. Some writers said the top price (for ebooks) that they’ll buy without hesitation is $5.99. Others $4.99, even $3.99.

I see a lot of books for $2.99, but if a book seems good, I’ll pay an extra dollar without giving it much thought. I do go up to $4.99, though with more thought than $3.99. I have spent more for books by favorite authors or books I’m curious about, but if it’s a traditionally published book, I’m more likely to get it from the library or at a store.

So what about you? If an author has a series and uses the first as a loss leader – 99 cents or free – and you liked it a lot or loved it, would you buy the other books? Since you already know you enjoyed the first book, what price would you pay up to?

And if it’s a first time author, would a higher price stop you? Again, what’s your limit?

Or are you a reader who thinks the higher the price the higher the quality?

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18 Responses to What’s Your Limit?

  1. Amy Remus says:

    Such a good topic, Edie. My limit without really raising a stink is $4.99. Otherwise I try for the library first or wait to see if it goes on sale. I have gone up to $7.99 before but it takes a lot for me to do that and I wouldn’t buy a book from a new author at that cost. I would only spend that if I knew I would like the book. As a reader, if an author has a series and one of your books is free, I am more likely to buy the other books in the series. For example, Virna DePaul recently had Chosen by Sin for free on Amazon., so I downloaded it. Well, I found out it is #3 in the series, so now I will go and buy #1 and #2 since I like to read a series in order. And if the first book is free and I like it I am willing to spend money to keep reading the series. I look at it as a buy one get one free. I am also more willing to spend money on a book if I received one free in a giveaway or as a gift. I feel guilty receiving a free book from an author without buying one of their other books, so that usually gets me, too. I am sure it is hard for you guys to put a price on your hard work and dedication. How much money do you guys typically make off the sale of a book? Is it a percentage of the sale or does it depend on the contract? If you self-publish a book how much more do you make?

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Amy, we seem to have similar buying habits – except I will read a book out of order. And you can stop feeling guilty about receiving a free book. We do want you to love it enough that you’ll buy the other books, but if you don’t, that’s fine. We don’t all love the same brand of cheese or chocolate. (Oooo, another blog topic. lol)

      For self-published books, when the price is between 2.99 and 9.99, most online stores pay 65 or 70% of the price. Above and below that is usually 35 or 40%. I honestly can’t remember the percentage for print books.

      Pricing is hard. When we write it, we’re pouring our emotions into it. Yet when it’s done, it’s a product. I think this is another blog topic. Not sure if I’m the one to tackle it.

      Thanks for such a thoughtful reply!

  2. blodeuedd says:

    I would not pay that much, sometimes I can pre-order a book for 5 euros, and that is a print that I can keep. While ebooks, well shifty business there sometimes. Sometimes I do pay more cos I am desperate and they are only out in ebooks, but truth be told 3-4 would be my limit
    blodeuedd`s last blog was …Review: The Bridegroom wore plaid – Grace Burrowes

  3. Misty Evans says:

    Interesting post, Edie. This is always an issue with indie authors and with readers. I see both sides.

    Ebooks make up the majority of my royalties. I make about 90 cents (not even a dollar) on my traditionally published print books. It’s sad. The members of a book club that recently did Operation Sheba for their discussion were so proud to tell me that they all bought the book to support me. I appreciated that so much, but the reality was, I made about $5 on those books. ~sigh~

    As a reader, I have so many books on my ereaders, I rarely buy anything over 2.99. It drives me crazy when the big publishers price ebooks at 7.99 or 9.99. If it’s a book I really want to read, I’ll get it from the library or wait to get the paperback and then put it on my keeper shelf.

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Misty, that’s why I’m not sending my books to publishers, though I’m sure the books have brought you new fans who’ve went on to buy your other books. 🙂

  4. I don’t have a limit per se, Edie. If I want something bad enough, I’ll usually pay the asking price unless I know it’s going on sale soon. Then I’ll wait.

  5. Edie,

    I don’t often download free books and don’t especially watch for them. If a book I’ve been thinking about buying, goes on free, then I’ll download it. The author could be a new one or not.

    For e-books, I never think twice up to 3.99. If it’s an author I love I don’t think twice if it’s up to 6.99. But 9.99 or above, ah no, it’s the library or print so I can keep it on my shelf.

    Great topic.
    Casey Clifford`s last blog was …Sandy Hook Sadness

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Casey, I don’t watch for free books, either. My reading time is limited, and I read a lot of books that I’ve heard about from word of mouth. And books by my friends, too. 🙂

  6. Lori says:

    I have a hard time paying for $10 ya books, and that’s how much they usually are so I prefer to try the indie authors there def.

    As for my own book, my ya, The Mind Readers, wasn’t selling at all so I made the first book free when I put book 2 out. I bascially had nothing to lose. It worked wonders and its now my best selling series. But I do think the 99 cent thing is falling to the wayside. And I agree with raising the prices. There’s no reason why an author shouldn’t be able to sell for say, 3.99, especially if its ya which normally sells for 10 bucks!

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Lori, it’s crazy that YA books cost so much. I’m glad that free is working for you. I might put Stardust Miracle free for a month or so when Miracle Pie is out. I’m still selling the others at 3.99, though.

  7. Edie,
    This is a great topic and one I’ve thought about a fair bit lately. I don’t want to limit selling my books on just one platform (like Amazon), so I really can’t go “free,” but I’ve done 99 cents with my ebooks before and have one story set to that price right now. It’s a 75K-word novel, so that’s a lot of writing for a very low cost, but I wanted new readers to consider giving the book a chance, and I always wanted to be able to give longtime readers a gift during the holiday season.

    As far as buying ebooks, I’ll spend up to $3.99 without much thinking. Anything that’s over $6.99 electronically seems a bit high for digital works, unless it’s for charity or is something I know for sure I *really* want. I’m still a lover of print books, so I do buy a fair number of those, too. 😉
    Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Jane’s 237th Birthday & a 99-Cent Ebook Deal!

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Marilyn, you can go free everywhere and see if Amazon matches it. I think that’s what I’ll do.

      I can go either way, print or digital. But for the most part, the traditional publishers aren’t lowering the prices for digital enough. I know the authors are missing sales because of that, and I feel for them.

  8. Liz Kreger says:

    I must be a very bad person. If there is an author that I really love … say, Ilona Andrews and I have most her books on my Nook, I won’t hesitate to pay the $7.99 for the next book in the series. I will pay the same $7.99 for the paperback of Jeaniene Frost. I know … there’s something very wrong about that. But I guess I’m all about “I see, I want it, I buy it.”

    I don’t go looking for free ebooks, but I will try a new author that looks promising by downloading her/his first ebook to see if I like it. If I do … you bet I’m gonna go for the rest of their books. Like Amy, I have to read books in a series. I feel like I’m not getting the full background if I don’t … or cannot visualize the world building.

  9. Edie Ramer says:

    Liz, you’re not a bad person at all. You work hard for your money, so why not spend it on something you enjoy? And 7.99 isn’t all that much, either. I’ve spent a lot more on meals I didn’t really like. I’m sure everyone has.

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