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Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Digital Middle

How low should you go when pricing an eBook?

Digital Book World reckons the money is in the middle.

Draw a horizontal line and write “Free” on the left side and the number “$9.99” on the right side:

The Digital Middle 1

Free represents content that readers can get at no charge, such as book samples, blog posts, free resources, etc. The number $9.99 represents the typical price used to sell digital e-books. To date, most publishers and authors concentrate their efforts on either end of the line. They give away free content to promote their titles and entice readers. Then, they charge consumers around $9.99 or more to purchase a digital e-book.

Notice the wide gap between free and $9.99. I call it the “Digital Middle,” and I believe there are millions of dollars to be made in this middle space. However, this money can’t be realized until publishers and authors stop fixating on long-form content on the left side of the line. The 250-page trade book (and e-book) can still remain the basis for publishing fiction stories and non-fiction ideas. But, the growth opportunity is in the digital middle using shorter-form content at various price points.
Someone is already making millions in this middle space…guess who?

Amazon is known as a company that rarely turns a profit. Yet, they’ve found profit in the digital middle with their Kindle Singles division. They don’t sell $9.99 e-books. Instead, they sell original short-form content at prices ranging from $.99 to $4.99. Content length is between 5,000 – 30,000 words and the topics include interviews, short stories, memoirs, humor, essays, etc. According to the New York Times, the Kindle Singles division has sold over five million units and made over ten million dollars in less than three years – and they did it profitably!

Shorter pieces?  That's an idea.  I notice bestselling authors like Michael Connolly and Lee Child are doing it, while others club together to put out cheapish collections.

Hit the link at the top to read more of the interesting argument.

What interests me still more, though, is why the commentators concentrate on fiction in their analyses.  How is nonfiction doing, I wonder? 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting - and very true. However, there's still the big problem of marketing, whatever the price. We can flood the market but must still catch the eye of the reader somehow.