Self-publishing authors should grab this chance.
What opportunity? Over the last year, the major publishers including Hachette, Penguin/Random House, Macmillan and Simon and Schuster have all renegotiated their agreements with online retailers, and can all now dictate the price of their ebooks.
No longer can retailers discount their ebooks to gain market advantage.
This means that the retail and distribution ebook wars and legal battles are over and now the major publishers are setting their ebook prices in concrete.
But boy, have they declared a new war. A war on ebooks. And not on other ebooks, but on their own. When you look at many new titles from traditional publishers, it’s pretty clear that they do not want to sell ebooks. Take this one book for example.
Would you buy the Kindle version at $16.79 or the hardcover at $17.99? I mean, read the hardcover and you can give it to a friend or sell it for a buck to a second-hand bookstore.
Take a moment and have a little think here. Which version does the publisher want you to buy?
Do you fancy an exploitation of Stieg Larsson? Let’s grab this bargain ebook by David Lagercrantz?
Once again, you can save a whole buck if you buy the Kindle version over the hardcover. What a bargain! Oh, come on. I could post hundreds of ebooks from the Big Five like this, but let’s look at why this gives self-publishing authors a fantastic opportunity.
Now look at the top ten bestselling Kindle ebooks, and yes, the two ebooks above are defying price logic and appear here, but the rest are priced at between $1.11 and $6.99.
If you dig deeper than the top ten, you will find that ebooks priced between $2.99 and $4.99 dominate, and of course a large proportion of these are by self-published authors.
Does this create a market gap for self-publishing authors?
The change in ebook pricing by traditional publishers is an opportunity for self-publishing authors to take the ebook market for their own. The traditional publishers don’t want it.
Readers aren’t stupid, and know what they are buying, and they are also smart enough to know when they are being taken for a ride.
Although I have been pessimistic about the state of self-publishing at the moment and wrote about this recently in my Train Wreck post, this is a chance for self-publishing authors to chisel out a part of the publishing market for themselves.
If the big publishers are thumbing their noses at it, grab it!
But it will take work. Self-publishing in general still has some way to go in providing a quality product, and while many, many self-published authors have made huge strides in this regard, there is still a lot of junk being published.
However, for those who are writing great stories, the ‘kill the ebook’ pricing from the Big Five gives a chance to create a price and quality differential. Whereas $2.99 to $4.99 has been the mean self-publishing price range, why not up your prices a little and sit between the Big Five and the dross.
There now seems to be a price point of between $5.99 to $7.99 that could be competitive for quality self-publishing authors.
Is this a gap in the market that you could try to make your own? If you are publishing in paperback as well, which is always a good idea if only for credibility, why not open the price between your ebook and paperback by a dollar or two to give better-perceived value to your ebook?
Time will tell of course if this proves to be a golden opportunity for self-publishing authors, although ebook publishing is still so young that this time truism may not have had long enough yet to be true.
What do you think?