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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

eBook prices reach a new low

Price makes a big difference, as publishers are discovering

On December 29, Algonquin reduced the price of their eBooks to $1.99 for a one-day promotion.  At the time I watched with intense interest as Island of the Lost zoomed up the Amazon bestseller list in response, being rated at # 79 at the end of the day.  Since then, it has dipped to the low thousands, but there has been another reward, in the shape of a burst of four- and five-star reviews, showing that people do read books that they might have bought on impulse, scenting a bargain.

It seems that Algonquin is by no means the only publisher to realize that lowering the price has a beneficial effect on sales. Digital Book World reports that the average price for a best-selling ebook is now $7.66, down from $8.09 a week ago and $11.79 in late Oct., the last time that the price of an ebook best-seller increased.

They say: Price experimentation from new titles that have jumped onto the list helps explain part of the decrease. Breaking Night by Liz Murray (Hyperion) is currently (as of this writing) priced at $9.50 at major ebook retailers, but a price decrease this week to $1.99 helped bump it onto the list. And Brad Meltzer’s The Fifth Assassin (Hachette) has been discounted slightly to $12.74 from $12.99. The titles are each good examples of the kind of discounting that works — and the kind that does not.

In the case of the Murray book, a 2010 title, a steep discount coupled with some promotion (likely, though we can’t confirm it from our tracking of on-site promotions) rejuvenated sales of a title that’s nearly three years old. Following its price decrease some sales were sustained at the higher price point; the title has been on the Kindle top-100 best-seller list for three days of full-price selling following the price drop.

The tiny drop in the price of the Meltzer book made no discernible difference.

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