This evening, after many discussions and much deliberation, I changed the price of my 2nd eBook, “Mapping Media to the Common Core: Vol I,” from $4.99 to $14.99. In this post, I’ll explain why as well as some interesting things I learned about Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing pricing rules as I submitted this price change to KDP.
by Wesley Fryer
One of the MANY wonderful things about self-publishing is you can set your own prices for your books and eBooks. That isn’t the case when you go with a traditional publisher. This summer I visited with a friend who recently published an eBook as a co-author. Their book sells for over $30, but I was shocked to learn he only earns $1 for each copy sold! As a comparison, when I sold my eBook for $4.99 via e-Junkie directly from my own website, I earned $4.55 for each copy that sold. If you have the tech savvy and desire, it’s worth it to offer your own eBooks for sale from YOUR website. I pay e-Junkie $18 per month to use their services, and it’s money well spent. When people pay via PayPal and e-Junkie those funds can transfer into your own bank account in just a few days. That compares very favorably to Amazon, which keeps either 30% or 65% of your gross sales and holds onto those dollars for 60 full days before sending you a check.
All together, counting “Mapping Media: Volume I” eBooks I’ve sold via e-Junkie, Amazon, and direct bulk sales, I’ve sold about 275 copies since the book was published at the end of June just before the ISTE Conference in San Antonio. I’ve given away a little over 200 copies at conferences and workshops where I’ve presented over the summer. In offering the eBook for just $4.99, I was thinking it would be priced so it could be more of an “impulse buy” for people rather than a book which would just go on a “wish list” to possibly be purchased later. I’ve watched with interest as authors like Jackie Gerstein and Will Richardson have offered new eBooks for sale on Amazon for just $1.99. The fact that there are NOT any physical printing or shipping costs to an eBook means that the price is very arbitrary. Yes, my book reflects tons of hours of work over the past year… and I know it’s worth more than $5 to individuals who read it. At the same time, however, I’m really passionate about wanting to help redefine “digital literacy” in our K-12 schools and universities, and I want to put my book into as many hands as I can. I want people to not only read it but USE it to create a wider variety of multimedia products to “show what they know” and can do than they’ve made previously. It’s strange, however, that pricing connotates value, and when something is free or very cheap people seem to naturally think, “Wow, that must not be very good if it’s that inexpensive.” This isn’t true or fair, of course, but I think it happens perceptually in the marketplace.
The main reason I decided to change the pricing of my second eBook and end this “experiment” with $4.99 discount pricing was that I decided to try and publish my eBook with Flat World Knowledge. If they accept my proposal, I’ll be able to offer Mapping Media (eventually including volumes 2 and 3 as well) in highly customizable formats. Instructors adopting my book as their course text will be able to choose the chapters they want to use, the order for those chapters, and even add their own text or edits as desired. Students will have flexible access options including eBook formats, paper formats, and even audiobook formats. This 74 second video explains how it works.
Pricing for my Mapping Media eBooks and book chapters is going to be a lot more sensible, I think, if I price volume I at $14.99 rather than $4.99. So that’s the main reason I changed the price. Why would a student want to purchase a Flat World version for around $20 if they could buy the three volumes of Mapping Media (eventually) for a combined $15? It wouldn’t make sense. But it will if those combined books cost $45 ($15 each) instead of $15 ($5 each.)
One of the surprising things I learned tonight as I made this pricing change on Amazon was that Amazon requires authors to price their eBooks BELOW $10 if they select the “70% royalty” plan. This is detailed on the KDP site, but basically it means that in the United States as well as many other countries, authors receive a 70% royalty on eBook sales.
If I’d decided to price “Mapping Media” at $9.99, on Amazon my approximate royalty per eBook would be about $6.40.
I didn’t want to price the eBook at $9.99, however, so to do that I had to choose Amazon’s “35% royalty” program. This program has the “advantage” of NOT having Amazon add an “electronic delivery charge” to your eBook fees, and uses the same pricing for all countries worldwide. With this model, authors can price their eBooks as high as $200. I chose $15, so my approximate royalty per eBook will be $5.25.
I anticipate, when I’m finally successful submitting my eBook to Apple’s iBookstore, I’ll end up selling more eBooks there under the standard “70% royalty” agreement than I will on Amazon. I’m not sure, of course, but that’s my guess, based on how many students are purchasing iPads these days and how “Mapping Media” works so well for iPad-wielding learners. I think it’s very important to have your eBook for sale on Amazon, even though their royalty structure and pricing restrictions leave much to be desired, since Amazon is on almost EVERY computing and eReading platform today. From a financial standpoint, it’s best to sell your eBook from your OWN website. From an ease-of-downloading standpoint, however, enabling people to purchase your eBook on either Amazon or Apple’s iBookstore is critical. There are trade-offs and benefits for each publishing option.
Did I make the right decision by increasing the price of my “Mapping Media” eBook? I hope so, but I’m not sure. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. My fingers are crossed Flat World will say YES to my proposal soon!
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