The $.99 Price Point in Publishing

ninety nine cent booksThere have been a lot of articles recently, and not so recently, about how much e-books should cost. Obviously this will always be up for debate, but over the course of last year somehow Kindle self-publishers landed at $.99 as the correct answer for now.

Why $.99? Well for starters that’s the lowest you can go. There’s also a lot of allure in those double digits to the right of the decimal point. Something priced at $1 seems, somehow to our brains, to be much more expensive than something priced $.99.

iTunes and the iStore probably have a lot to do with it, too. $.99 has been their reigning price point for awhile now (though individual songs are creeping back up) and I think it just makes sense to people that digital whatzimahoos should be $.99.

As I mentioned, there’s been a lot of dicussion about this. Some people think it’s good idea, there’s a nice breakdown from earlier last year over at CNET.

Some people think it’s a horrible idea, this article from the Huffington Post thinks $.99 cent books are going to undermine the market and cause a price war that will never end.

I’m not here to discuss the ins and outs of this too much. I’m just here to say that no matter what people think, or write, or preach, or argue, or believe, the fact is simply that $.99 IS the price point for Kindle books.

How do I know?

Because I dropped the price of Probability Angels to $.99 a few weeks ago and I’ve sold more copies since then than I did all of last year. I do have a new ad campaign running based on this price drop, but I’ve run ad campaigns before and never seen results like this.

Is this good? Is this bad?

How should I know? But it is what it is and reality can never be ignored, no matter how pretty your arguments are.

Frankly, I’m of the opinion that future authors will generate revenue from a wide variety of sources, and not just on royalties from book sales, so I’m not particularly worried.

Plus, as I mentioned, the price of music is creeping back up so I don’t entirely think $.99 is the permanent price for an e-book.

But it IS the price of e-books right now.

Full stop.