Robin Spano grew up in Toronto, studied physics in New Brunswick, and dropped out to explore North America on her motorcycle. She met her husband while working as a waitress and helped him run his Toronto pool room until they moved to Vancouver. She writes full time, plotting murder and living vicariously through her undercover protagonist.
How much should an e-book cost? This question has been baffling the industry since e-books first came on the market, and it's coming to a head.
E-books are pushing hard, and their market share is climbing faster than ever. According to Bowker, the book industry's leading statistics source, e-books accounted for 5% of book sales in the first quarter of 2010 – up from 1.5% in 2009.
As a new writer, this excites me, because e-books go a long way toward leveling the playing field. It will be several years – if ever – before my mystery series hits airport stores beside Dan Brown and Patricia Cornwell. But Dead Politician Society is available in an airport waiting lounge to someone with an e-reader browsing online booksellers.
37% of e-book buyers bought their first digital book within the last six months (according to the same first quarter 2010 study). This is also exciting, because when everything's new, it's a time for experimenting – it makes marketing a book feel like an explorer's adventure.
The biggest undecided question is pricing. The industry seems to loosely favor the $10-$12 range for new releases. I don't have an e-reader, but that default makes no sense to me. Because an e-book is intangible, cheaper to produce, and can't be loaned as easily, I would value it at $4.99.
My publisher, ECW Press, thinks the current price range is ideal, and they've priced my e-book at $10.99. It's less than a print book, but not so low that it devalues the reading experience. Their concern is that to charge too little is to say that the book isn't worth much. They also feel that people don't make book purchasing decisions based on price – if the book looks cool, they'll buy it because they want to read it; not because it's cheap.
It's nice that they think my book isn't worthless, but I still think a lower price would be better.
ECW makes the final pricing call, but they're listening to my objections (not telling me to shut up and go away like most publishers would). I think we both recognize that in an industry that's changing so rapidly, an open mind is the way to ride the cutting edge most successfully.
So they've arranged this experiment: For one week, Tues. Dec. 7-Mon. Dec. 13, Dead Politician Society will be $1.99 in the Kindle, Kobo, and iBooks stores. It's a dramatically lower price point than where either of us would price it permanently, but we're looking for dramatic results.
What this week will show us:
If sales don't jump, I'll concede that ECW is right – price is not what sells e-books.
If sales skyrocket, ECW will concede that maybe price IS a factor in e-book sales. They may or may not lower the electronic price of Dead Politician Society permanently (which I'm gunning for), but they'll start to see the industry differently.
Help me show that price matters by either buying a Dead Politician Society e-book for $1.99 this week, OR letting your friends know about this experiment.
Together, we can help push this changing industry in the direction we'd like to see it go.
Dead Politician Society: This book is fun. It's lighthearted crime fiction - maybe Charlie's Angels meets Janet Evanovich - where a young female cop has to pose as a university student to penetrate a secret society who's been claiming credit for the deaths of local politicians. There's some sex and swearing - so maybe don't buy it for your grandma unless she likes that kind of thing. But most readers so far seem to find the book a good, fun read. See what bloggers are saying about Dead Politician Society.
Thanks for visiting Chrisbookarama today, Robin. Good luck with your experiment!