That type of mindset is nothing new. People have been associating quality and value to higher priced items since forever. There is a reason that Roman royalty wore all that gold and jewels. It told everyone how important and powerful these people who could afford such luxuries were.
What is interesting with e-publishing, especially for those going indie, is the impact that lowering the price of a book can have, or even offering it free for a short time. Last year in March, I offered my suspense novel, One Small Victory, as a free read for a week to celebrate Read an E-Book Week. It had over 30,000 downloads and made it to the top ten on a number of best-selling lists on Amazon. That effort jump-started several months of significant sales that brought me a nice royalty check every month.
More recently, with a glut of free books, especially on Amazon, there is some concern that the number of free books has impacted sales of other books. Many of us who share marketing information on author lists are seeing a drop in sales this month and last. Some blame it directly on the availability of free books; others, like Brad Whittington, do not. "While I could be wrong (it's happened before) I think the free-downloaders (sic) are bargain hunters, not book buyers and don't represent a significant loss of sales. Certainly no more than used bookstores, which are the haunt of people who are not going to pay the going price for new releases."
Another writer, who is known as Polywogg, weighed in with this comment "It's a semi-popular view that free hurts the market or an author but since the e-market is skyrocketing and authors are seeing sales increases (sometimes dramatic) after freebie promotions, most of those views are not borne out by any actual evidence. I'm thinking of borrowing from Dawkins and calling it the Fear Delusion."
Anthony Wessel from Digital Book Today recently wrote in is blog, "The free book (on Amazon) is currently the best form of advertising and marketing that is available to the Indie author."
So maybe free books are here to stay. At least for a while, and there really is no definitive answer to the best price for e-books. If you go too high, you lose volume of sales. Is that worth it? Most people are like me and really don't plan to spend more than $5 for an e-book, with only a few exceptions. I do check out free books, and if I find a gem among the rough stones, I will buy other books by that author.
The one thing I do insist on, whether I have acquired the book for free, or for $0.99, or for $4.99, is professionalism. That goes for the cover design, the editing, and the overall formatting and production. What devalues a book, in my estimation, is one that was poorly edited, if at all, or it is not easy on the eyes as I scroll through to read. I have found some so poorly formatted that there were strange symbols in place of punctuation, weird spacing that seemed to make no sense, and sections where there seemed to be something missing.
As for the near future of e-book pricing, I agree with author Stephen Woodfin who wrote the following in a blog for Venture Galleries, "The energy of the indie movement will find its way to the middle ground. This will mean price points for many e-books from $2.99 to $6.99 with $0.99 books relegated to the bargain bin, and $9.99 e-book pricing viewed as little more than arrogant elitism clung to by the big houses."
What should not vary, however, is quality. We owe it to our readers to give them the best product we can. That includes taking the time to craft a good read and paying to have the book professionally edited and designed.
What about you? Does price influence your e-book buying?
When she is not reading the funny papers, Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Information about her books, her editing services, and her blogs can be found on her Web site at www.maryannwrites.com Follow her on Twitter and Facebook