Sunday 24 March 2019

How Much Will You Pay for an E-book?

Now I know that authors who are traditionally published have no say on what price the e-book of their novels is sold at. Of course there will be price promotions where readers can buy the e-book for 99 pence for a limited time.

Whereas with self-published e-books the price can vary, though I've heard £2.99 is the ideal price- maybe is is and maybe it isn't?

Of course there's always a selection at 99 pence; but just because they're a low price that doesn't necessarily reflect badly on their quality.

As writers we know the same amount of work has gone into the writing and production of the book whether it's on paper or a digital file.

But as a reader, what price is too high for you to buy an e-book?

Unlike a print book, an e-book- a digital file (while it can last for as long as the technology exists to read it and is available) is more like a rental with no defined end date.
Print or E-book
for the cost?

Plus e-books prices include VAT.

The provider can modify or remove an e-book, likewise if
an online provider has closed a person's account for some reason, the reader will lose access to those e-books they've purchased.

(So if you've got a favourite book it's always a good idea to get a print copy too.)

So back to price.

I recently saw a new  release by one of my many favourite writers (a hybrid author). I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the story having read the blurb, so downloaded the sample. At this point the price was still £3+.

It was a couple of days before I read the sample and decided okay, it has potential I'll buy the e-book. But when I went to Amazon the new release price had gone up to £5+ and I decided no it wasn't worth it at that price...

That response surprised me.

It may just be that I wasn't so intrigued that I just had to read more instantly. Perhaps the author has just lost their edge, that sparkle that would have once guaranteed an immediate buy.

This time it was the price that made the difference between me saying okay I'll buy it- even if it seems not to be as good as previous novels. To saying no, it's not worth it at that price. I probably would have bought it at the £3+ price.

There are a few e-books that I've bought at the £5+ range, but generally I'd opt for a paperback version, as sometimes it can be better value.

I realised that for me, quality + price = value = buy.

So a couple of questions to you as a reader, rather than a writer.

Do you have a maximum price bar when buying e-books?

Or does it depend upon the particular e-book, author or some other combination?

I'm looking forward to reading your responses...

Image from


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Very interesting post, Carol. I read both e-books and paperbacks and the most I prefer to pay for an e-book is £2.99. Any higher and I'd rather have the paperback if I like the sound of it enough or if it's by a favourite author.

Carolb said...

Rosemary- thank you. It's interesting to see that balance between digital and print. I do think £2.99 is an ideal price for a novel.

Julia Thorley said...

I don't buy many ebooks, but £3 is generally my limit, unless it's something that can only be brought in this format. Given that the production costs of an ebook are so much lower than a physical one, the cost should also be much lower. Plus, of course, there is no added value from being able to stroke and smell it as you can with a real book. (As a writer, I've charged 99p for little e-projects, but my yoga book. which is £7.99 in paperback, is £1.99 as an ebook.)

Carolb said...

Julia- £3 is coming out as the maximum price so far, so my reaction clearly wasn't as strange as I thought. :-)

There is a sensory delight with older books that can't be replicated with digital.

Sounds like you have a reasonable pricing strategy for your books too.