Readers’ survey reveals ‘fair deal’ pricing points for ebooks

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There are some encouraging findings for authors in a readers’ survey run by ebook promotion site The Fussy Librarian which looked at pricing novels to offer a fair deal for readers and authors.

I think the findings are particularly interesting as they are from active ebook readers who are subscribers to The Fussy Librarian site, with over 1,200 taking part in the survey.

The main question asked: What do you think is a fair price for a full novel in ebook format, that pays an author well, but remains affordable? The findings, which are illustrated in the chart at the top of this article, were:

All ebooks should be free — 6%

$0.99 — 8.7%

$1.99 — 11.8%

$2.99 —16.5%

$3.99 — 20.6%

$4.99 — 18%

$5.99 —11.6%

More than $5.99 — 6.4%

The Fussy Librarian says a price range of $0.99-$1.99-$2.99 could maximize the potential pool of buyers for your book.

The figures reveal that two-thirds of the respondents were in the range from $1.99 to $4.99, with the biggest segment, at just over one-fifth, picking $3.99.

This appears to back up other analysis over recent months, including ebook distributor Smashwords’ annual survey, which found that $2.99 and $3.99 were the sweet spots for pricing.

The findings could be seen as confusing as The Fussy Librarian is a promotion site and its subscribers are presumably looking for discounts, but it could also be seen as a good sign that even bargain-hunters are prepared to pay a fair price for ebooks.

The Fussy Librarian does point out that you need to create urgency when you are discounting a book, preferably by 50% or more. If you sell at the regular price, many readers will think they can buy this any time at this price and defer the purchase before forgetting about it altogether.

There are further encouraging findings from another survey question which asked: What’s the most you ever paid for an ebook for an author new to you?

Source: The Fussy Librarian
Source: The Fussy Librarian

Over a third said they had paid $5.99 or more, but The Fussy Librarian comments that the smart way to sell ebooks is at price points that appeal to the vast majority of readers.

Here are the figures for the survey question: What’s the most you ever paid for an ebook for an author new to you?

I only download free books — 9.4%
$0.99 — 8.7%
$1.99 — 9.8%
$2.99 — 14%
$3.99 — 12.7%
$4.99 — 10.5%
$5.99 — 7.2%
$5.99-plus — 27.2%

There does seem to be price resistance for shorter ebooks as The Fussy Librarian gives a taster of some further findings to be published soon on what you should price books of 125 pages or fewer, with the answer given as free or $0.99.