The Complete Guide to eBook Pricing

A year ago, whilst researching pricing for my own eBook, I came across a great statistic.

Authors that price their eBooks in the $.99 - $2.99 range sell more units and earn more revenue than those in any other price range (Lulu)

Over the past few months we've had the privilege of processing iTunes sales data for a huge number of books across a vast array of categories. We've published maths books, biographies, art portfolios, novels and prayer books. We've published titles in just about every category at every price point, and the data has been fascinating.

Here, I'm going to share what I've learnt! Lulu's pricing statistic, albeit pretty, is not the best guide to follow. Picking a price for your book involves a little more consideration.

Here's your complete guide eBook pricing.

When does the 99c rule work?

The 99c rule does work, but it only works when a book is in a large market. With this pricing strategy you're appealing to an interested but impulsive reader.

If you're selling a One-Direction fan book, sell it at 99c. If you're selling a recipe book with a broad appeal, aim for the 99c - $2.99 bracket. 

A low price like this makes it easy for a reader to buy your book. They're likely to buy it without thinking too deeply about what else is around, and that's exactly what you want. Low price, low barriers, impulsive buyers, higher revenue.

What about fiction?

Fiction is a tough market to decipher. Roughly 80% of the eBook market is fictional. There are a lot of great stories out there, but your book may also face an overwhelming amount of competition.

Lulu's pricing guide is perhaps best suited to the fictional book. Pricing your book within the 99c and $2.99 margin will once again appeal to the impulsive buyer, help you to sell more units and boost your overall revenue.

What's a non-fiction book or textbook worth?

In this category, you can begin to charge decent money. Knowledge is valuable, and a $9.99 book on ancient history looks an awful lot more worthwhile than a 99c book on ancient history.

It's a mistake I've seen a lot - knowledgeable authors working with niche subjects, underpricing their books. If you've got a thorough, well researched and well designed book, don't hesitate to charge your reader what it's worth.

Ask yourself, 'are people going to be searching for this topic?' The more specialised your subject is, the more you can realistically charge. If a reader is looking for a book detailing a niche software architecture, they could be willing to pay $19.99. If they're looking for a high quality photography guide, they shouldn't balk at $9.99.

Price your textbooks within the $4.99 and $19.99 range. To find your price point, search for your topic on iTunes. The smaller and more specialised your market is, the closer to the $19.99 point your book should be. Likewise, if there's already a broad selection on your topic, push your book closer to the $4.99 point.

Is iTunes the only point of sale for your book?

I've been fairly fortunate with my own book. I've always had a strong market outside of iTunes - a blog with a strong subscriber base. If you've got a blog or an existing audience outside of iTunes, you can realistically push your price up.

You existing audience doesn't want to buy a recipe book, they want to buy your recipe book. They may not respond any differently to a $4.99 book compared to a $14.99 book.

It can be challenging for a book to gain traction within the iTunes store. If iTunes is the only point of sale for your book, your pricing strategy should be a big focus. If however your main market lies outside of iTunes, you can relax and charge your customers what they're willing to pay.

Tablo's five rules to eBook and iBook pricing

  1. If the market is big, keep the price low.
  2. Good knowledge is always worth paying for.
  3. If the market is niche, you're allowed to be expensive.
  4. If you already have an audience, charge what they're willing to pay!
  5. Your price is never set in stone. Tablo can help you refine your strategy :)