Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pricing for POD and Kindle versions of the same title

The price of a book is an important consideration, particularly for self-publishing authors. I publish non-fiction books about coaching basketball and two about self-publishing. I know a lot about coaching basketball and have learned a great deal about self-publishing. I like to share information I have learned with others and the advent of POD and eBook technology allows me to not only share information but to earn money in the process.

My expertise is not in writing fiction and it certainly is not in the complicated world of business (at least it is complicated to me). I teach history but have successfully avoided drawing the assignment of teaching economics in my years in the profession. I have a basic understanding of the concept of supply and demand and the impact of this equation on pricing. I do not completely understand the vagaries of the consuming public and the role pricing plays in the purchase decision.

The can be no doubt the lower price of eBooks plays a role in the popularity of eBook sales. But how important is the role of the price? How important is the role in the price of a print copy of a paper book? What impact does lowering the price have on sales? What impact does raising the price have on sales? Does the difference in price between a POD version of a title and a Kindle version make a difference in the decision of which copy to purchase? 

One argument for lower pricing is the lower price will drive sales and the lost income from the lower profit margin will be more than made up for through a large increase in total sales. Others might argue, at least for non-fiction books, that too low a price indicates the value of the information contained is limited. A high price indicates the value of the information in the book is significant.

My question is when is a price too high and when is a price too low? I happen to think the information in all my books has value, but then I am the author. The real question is how much do the customers who purchase my books think the information is worth? 

There in lies the key to the question of pricing, or at least what I think is the answer. How much is the information in my non-fiction books worth in terms of money to my potential customers? If I raise the price too high, it will have a negative impact on sales. If I price the book too low it will have an impact on the profitability of the book in question and, I believe, eventually have a negative impact on the total number of copies sold.

Amazon helps some with the pricing guidelines for its Kindle books. Whether you like it or not, Amazon's "suggestion" Kindle books should be priced between $2.99 and $9.99 seems to have set the standard and it is hard to argue with the 70% share of the retail price Amazon pays its Kindle authors. With easy and nearly immediate access to Kindle book sales information for a specific title, an author can experiment with pricing and over time determine the impact, positive or negative, a specific price has on any given title. The same is true of a POD paper book. CreateSpace provides hourly updates of sales for authors on the Member Dashboard.

The question I am struggling with now is what should the price difference between two editions of a title be? Will a price that works for a POD version with no Kindle version be impacted negatively if there is too big a difference between the POD price and the Kindle price?

My goal is to optimize sales for all of my books regardless of the version in question. Consider me greedy, but I want to sell as many Kindle books as I can and the same is true of my POD print books. I still have one more child to put through college. Pricing plays a role in the equation of generating sales and it has a role to play in how much profit my self-publishing business earns.

I will be sure to share what I learn in the coming months as Kindle versions of my current POD books come on line for sale and as I publish new titles with both in both eBook and POD versions.