What is the value of a book?
No, really! Please tell me what you think it is. I’m curious to hear the different answers and reasons.
Specially I’m wondering, what price do you want to pay for a new hardcover? A new ebook? An independently published or self-published paperback? An indie or self-pubbed ebook?
I’m looking for insight because of my experiments with TWENTY-SOMEWHERE. For a while now I’ve been debating taking the plunge and offering 20SW for 99 cents. I finally did it as a May promotion, so if you’ve been curious and have $1 to spare, you can get your very own copy from Amazon, the iBooks store, or Smashwords (which offers many formats for your computer or mobile device). I’d also love some more reviews — honest ones, of course!
Now, I have very mixed feelings about the 99 cent price point. As a reader, of course it’s a great deal. But then it again, it also isn’t much of an investment. The problem with super cheap or free books is that there’s no incentive to read them. When I first decided to read ebooks on my iTouch, I loaded up on free stuff. Weeks later, overwhelmed by the clutter, I had to delete almost all of it.
I’ve heard that lots of people (who are apparently slightly less cheap than me, lol) do the same thing with ebooks that cost only $1 or $2. On the one hand, the author doesn’t care, right? Because whether you delete the book off your ereader or not, that’s money in their pocket. But on the other hand, what authors need more than money is an audience. Without fans, you can’t make a living. You can’t have a career.
Furthermore, is 99 cents really a fair trade for all the hard work an author put into a book? (Especially given that authors really only get 30 cents of that back.) What happens if readers become accustomed to that price point? What if they start thinking that’s what books — even the printed kind — are really worth?
As my business-minded boyfriend would surely tell me, at the end of the day books (like everything else) are worth whatever people are willing to pay for them. And a lot of factors go into that.
(For the record, I am willing to pay more for a good story, quality writing, and professional formatting. In printed or electronic form.)
The “digital revolution” is amazing, and I absolutely believe in it. I guess I’m just worried. Worried about books costing less than a pack of gum. Books, which teach us so much. Which take us to strange and exciting places. Which introduce us to new people. Which make us feel love and fear and hope.
Personally, I think my ebook 20SW is worth more than 99 cents. In terms of what I put into it, and what people have told me that they got out of it, I think its regular price of $2.99 is a good value. But I’m trying not to be stubborn, trying to learn all that I can about what readers want instead of what I think.
And I’m trying to remind myself that 99 cents hasn’t killed the music industry. It probably won’t kill me either.