Monday, August 8, 2011

99 cent price point issues, pro and con

Venturing into self-publishing with a digital release of a book for an author presents many challenges. Now publishing houses are doing the same with their backlists, frontlists and a few famous authors' works.
But I do wonder about the affects of the 99 cent price point on authors and the industry as a whole.
For an author, positives include: (my 2 cents)
1. The ability to lure new readers to your body of work/s in greater numbers using the low price as  teaser;
2. The ability to launch a series with a sweet intro price.
For literacy in this country and the sales of books overall,  the preponderance of 99-centers means more people may be induced to read.
THIS is a huge benefit in a country where education funding is being cut like Lady Gaga's last wild outfit--and illiteracy rises at an alarming rate to more than 20% of the population!
But what are the negatives of the 99 cent phenomena?
I worry that the 99 cent price point will so enthrall readers that this becomes a challenge to the entire industry, digital, print, self and traditional in that fewer and fewer readers want to pay more for a work.
While the economy--and Standard and Poor's latest jab at  its own country--inspires more authors to price their works this way, truly the amount of time and effort that goes into writing something dynamic and viable (then editing it and formatting) demands a higher price point for many works.  Few authors can afford to keep bargain basement prices for their works. Nor should they.
Volume sales, certainly, may more than make up for modest royalties of any initial 99 cent release, in terms of an author's earnings.
Diversity of types of works "on the shelves" also increases as self-pubbing becomes easier to format and file into various third party vendors.
What are your thoughts on this 99 cent surge?
Have you bought books at this price range and discovered new authors?
What compelled you to do that?
And have you subsequently purchased other works by that author at a higher price?


  1. Cerise, this is a great question to ask.
    The first thing to address is the market is in a slump and demands a bargain price for anything.
    The second issue is the ebook market is brand new and glutted with product but that will change.
    I think after a short time has passed readers will notice the disparate quality of 99 cent books and be willing to pay a bit more for a quality book they really want.
    Something in the middle would be a good compromise. With the exception of a few phenomenon-status authors, many good authors are getting lost in the free for all.
    I sure hope this changes.
    XXOO Kat

  2. Kat, Good points.
    I think 99 cents is a decent price for a teaser for more books, or a short story like Julia's which she discussed in yesterdays' post.
    (My use of this price pt. was as a teaser to draw more readers. The story is 27K, so not short and verging on mid-length. So 99 cents is a bargain.) The question of quality is a movable feast. Established authors debuting a 99 center might indicate this work is equal to those they have pubbed through a publisher. I think this issue will be one we can never tease apart!!! As quality is always in the eyes of the beholder!

  3. I don't hesitate to buy a book that is marginally interesting and is 99 cents. Have I bought another by that author at a higher price? Not yet. I did publish a novella (20,000 words or so) for 99 cents because I didn't feel right charging more, and I've sold quite a lot. And my other titles picked up as a result, so I know there are people that do go on to buy the higher priced books.

  4. .99 is the perfect price for a new author. If I like the first book I'll buy everything on her/his backlist regardless of the .99 or not. I think its a great way to find new writers & explore your reading world.

  5. It agree with Kat. The market is in such flux that many good authors are overlooked, even at $.99. I think $.99 is great for a short work, but anything longer requires much more work on my part and I'm pricing it at $2.99 at least. A full-length romance might be $4.99. Haven't decided yet.

  6. If a book interests me and it's .99, I'll buy it without much thought. If I enjoy the read, I'll buy more from that author and happily pay a higher price. I've discovered many new writers that way.

  7. I love .99 cent books. Yes I have bought higher priced books from the author especially if the .99 center was the beginning of a series. I also like to get older book on my reader that I already have in paperback for .99 cents.

  8. I buy .99 books all the time and it is a great way to read a new author. Also, if an author is going the self pubed route, even better. I have found many authors that I love and read, have started this trend and I find that the books that are .99 are sometimes better.

    Just my opinion, though.

  9. Cerise--This subject arose at the RWA National Conference. Authors were warned that charging very low prices for their books would eventually backfire. The entire market would be devalued. One workshop leader said (paraphrase) to remember we're asking readers to pay for quality CONTENT. Our books should be valued for the imagination and hard work it takes to create them.

    I agree that .99 is appropriate for a very short story or a limited-time promotion. As a rule? I think the workshop leaders at the conference might be right. Deep discounting has destroyed previously profitable markets and the economy has suffered in the end.


  10. As a reader, I've definitely found 'new to me authors' by trying 99cent releases. As an author, I think only the very short stories should be so deeply discounted.


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