WiDo Publishing began in 2007 as a print publisher, later releasing titles as ebooks as well. They price new releases at $3.99, and $2.99 for older titles to stimulate interest and attract new buyers. Recently they experimented to find that magic number for bringing in the greatest number of ebook sales
As I mentioned in my previous post, $2.99 is the lowest Kindle price to get the 70% royalty rate from Amazon. WiDo tried .99 for two books: Ghost Waves by W. Everett Prusso and my novel Uncut Diamonds, both released 2009 in print, 2010 as ebooks. Results were interesting.
The drop in price made very little difference in sales. Both authors had only one book on Kindle. Neither of the books had significant sales, although mine were higher probably because I had developed an online presence and the other author had not.
My sales went up a bit with the .99 change but then held steady. They weren't enough to make a difference in profit so WiDo put it back to 2.99 and sales continued at the pre-.99 rate. It may go back to .99 for a time with the release of House of Diamonds, as a promotional price.
The cut didn't affect Ghost Waves sales. Although the hardcover print book did alright for $19.95, it hasn't done well as an ebook regardless of price.
WiDo's top selling ebook is In the Mirror: A Memoir of Shattered Secrets by Ann Carbine Best. It came out in May and there are no plans to drop the price to $2.99 as it continues to sell steadily at $3.99. Not by huge numbers, but consistently, and more every month.
Another new release is Cloak by James Gough, a YA fantasy to be released in hardcover November 15 as a special gift edition for $25.95. It is currently available as an ebook for $4.99, the highest WiDo has priced a new ebook release. The somewhat higher price hasn't seemed to affect ebook sales for Cloak, at least not its first month. People who wanted it bought it.
I'm using WiDo's examples because as a publisher, they're dealing with a variety of authors, titles and genres. So price variations can show interesting trends. And what it has shown in WiDo's case is that if people want a book, the price of a few dollars isn't going to matter. And if they don't want it, the .99 tag won't convince them to buy it. Maybe a few, but not in high enough numbers to overcome that price's weak profit margins.
It comes down to that age-old question forever baffling writers and publishers. What does the public want to read? What inspires people to pay for a book? Simple answer: If it's what they want, they'll make the effort. They'll look for it in a library or bookstore or on their ereader. Book sales come from writing and publishing what people want to read. Give customers what they want and sales will come, whether the book goes for .99 or 9.99.
Are there any ebooks that should be priced at .99? Books that would sell significantly better at the rock bottom price? Consider this. When paperback novels first came out they were cheap, they were exciting and their enticing covers and fast plots appealed to pulp fiction readers. The .99 ebook is like the new old-time paperback pulp fiction novel.
There's a large population of ebook buyers looking for the .99 fast read. It has to have an enticing cover and a fast-moving, action-oriented plot, preferably with a healthy dose of sex. Very much like the hugely popular paperback novels of the 1940s. If this is what you write, and you can do it well, and you churn them out pretty fast, then you could sell a lot of .99 ebooks. Because you will be giving this audience exactly what they want at the price they're looking for.