Monday, June 17, 2013

Top 100 ebook and ibook prices.

Now I know you have been impatiently waiting for me to do another survey of prices of the top 100 bestselling ebooks. So here it is.

If you’re a wannabe author, like me, you have probably been doing a Kirk/Picard, as you contemplate the price of ebooks. If the price of ebooks dropped the impulsive Kirk would rush online to buy more ebooks. But the more pragmatic Picard would probably stop and ponder the effect on author’s livelihoods.

If you are wondering, I am behaving more like Picard. I am sticking to a new year’s resolution of a couple of years ago of not paying less than $4.99 for an ebook. But I do make exceptions when an author informs me that they have made their book free in an attempt to push it up the Kindle rankings (although I read somewhere recently that Amazon is making this harder, if not impossible, to do).
Kindle Top 100 prices.

Twenty-two of the ebooks in the top 100 were priced at 99 cents. When I last checked in January, there were 14 at 99 cents. In September 2012 only six ebooks were priced at 99 cents, seven in August, and three in June. This was down from a massive 34 at 99 cents in February 2012. So Kirk will be happy that 99 cents is becoming a more popular buying price once again.

But there were less ebooks at $1.99, with only 6, compared to 11 in January, and eight in September. Before that the numbers at $1.99 were too insignificant to mention.  

This time there were eleven books at the guru nominated price of $2.99. In January there were ten at this price. In September 2012 there were 16, August 15, June 22, and in February 32 at that price. So the steady decline of this price appearing next to one of the top 100 sellers has stopped.

Overall there were 37 books priced at or below $2.99, last time there were 35.

The next most significant low price was $3.99, with 13 ebooks. Last time there were eleven, and in September last year there were 14.

For a while I thought $4.99 was going to be a good medium price for ebooks, but there were only three at that price this time, the same as in January. In September there were nine and in August 11 at $4.99.

There were 28 ebooks priced between $3.99 and $7.00, that means there were 35 priced at over $7. Last time there were 38 ebooks priced over $7, 30 in September, 32 in August and 47 in June.

Nine were priced at $9.99, and eight at $12.99.

ibooks Top 100 Prices

I only became interested in ibook prices when I purchased an ipad in January. I have discovered that either a lot less Kirks shop at the ibookstore or authors charge more for ibooks, because there were only five at 99 cents in the top 100 in both January and today.

There were six at $1.99. And 17 at the ibook guru price of $2.99, compared to 15 last time. So that’s 28 at or below $2.99 as compared to 37 on Amazon.

In the mid-range of $3.99 to $6.99 there were 29 ibooks both this and last time, as compared to 28 ebooks. Fifteen ibooks were priced at $3.99 (19 last time) and ten at $4.99 (four last time).

Forty-nine ibooks were priced over $7 (last time 46) compared to 35 of Amazon’s ebooks.

There were six at $8.99, 14 at $9.99, four at $10.99, five at $11.99, five at $12.99, five at $12.99 (eight at this price on amazon) and four at $16.99.  

So Kirk would be more like to download ebooks as the top 100s suggest ebooks are cheaper than ibooks.

One ibook in the top 100 was The Rosie Project by Australian Graeme Simsion, it was priced at a rather expensive $17.99, as a hardcover version cost only $15 from Amazon. But I suppose the publishers have to somehow make back the $1.8 million they paid Simsion for his book. One thing is for sure, Kirk wouldn’t buy The Rosie Project at any price.


Karen Tyrrell said...

Thanks Graham, for all this painstaking research.
Looks like ...Are Amazon prices going down?
and ibooks are generally more expensive?

What do you think?
Karen :)

Graham Clements said...

That's pretty much right Karen. There was a drop in prices of ebooks at the bottom end of the list - a lot more at 99 cents. And the ibooks getting bought in large numbers are more expensive than ebooks.

Anthony J. Langford said...

Rosie Project, what an overrated piece of rubbish. Ok so maybe it isn't rubbish but im sure its no better than thousands of other books. Ridiculous.

Thanks for the info Graham - if I ever go digital I will know where to look for all my info.

graywave said...

I always read these updates with interest, Graham. Graphs showing prices over time (now, by retailer) could be interesting too.

Your resolution not to pay less than $4.99 has also often fascinated me. I assume the main reason is to support authors and help keep prices high (rather than some assumption about quality at different price levels). This makes me wonder if you have any views about book length vs price?

I self-publish and sell a few things through online retailers. I have short stories (usually 8-9K words) going at 99c, short story collections (3-6 stories) in the 99c to $2.99 range and one mega collection (which includes 2 novellas and a load of stories) at $4.99. So my pricing varies roughly with word count. (my two commercially published novels - at 100k+ words each - are currently on sale at $2.95 and $3.15, although I have no control over what the publisher (Pan Macmillan) is charging and I think these prices will approximately double once we're out of the double-launch period.

I suppose I'm suggesting that, to be fair to authors, you should set your not-below price as a price-per-word. At $4.99 for a novel (say 100k words) you're currently paying a minimum of 0.005c per word.

Graham Clements said...

Hi Graham,

Part of the reason I do the survey is my great fear that eventually all ebooks will be free and authors would either have to put advertising in them or have a sponsor or beg for money on Kickstart to make money from writing. So $4.99 per ebook is the barest minimum I reckon an author should get for all the work they put into writing that novel.

I think I was lucky with your ebook Timesplash, as it was $4.99 when I bought it. I will pay less for novellas - I bought a 25,000 worder for $2.99, and I am yet to buy an ebook short story, buy yes I figure 99cents would be more than enough for a short story. I hope your sequel to Timesplash - I just went and checked and could not see it on your website - when it comes out is $4.99 or more. If not then I might have to break my rule. Perhaps I could use paypal to send you the difference.

I once downloaded a free ebook knowing that the author asked for a donation at the end. Turing Evolved by Dave Kitson. Great ebook - excellent original story. Very worthy of the $9 I sent to him using paypal.

graywave said...

Jeez, Mate! When the Pope of Writing (John Scalzi?) gets to canonising a few saints, I hope your name's up there! :-)

Yes, for a while I thought ebook prices might plummet to $0 too but it looks like that won't happen after all. Phew!

Graham Clements said...

Graham, I gather your comment is in relation to me being willing to send a donation for the gap between your price and $4.99, well I just finished reading the Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey, and at the end he has some Q&A, and one of the questions he asks is why is the Wool Omnibus so cheap? (I think it was $5.99) In his answer he suggests people can donate more at his website if they want to. So there you go. Wool was an excellent collection of novellas by the way.