You tell us: What should a digital book be priced?


Trying something new here on the Carina Press blog! I spend a lot of time telling you things, things that are going on behind the scenes, what we’re doing, what the new releases are, and all assortment of writing and editing advice.

Now it’s your turn, I’d like you to tell me what you think! This week, I’m wondering: what do you think is a fair digital book price? As readers, we see all assortment of prices for digital books. Everything from free to 99 cents to $13 and up!

Let’s assume we’re talking about a novel-length work, a mass market size book of a word count of between 70,000 and 100,000 words. What do you think, what’s a fair price? I’m really interested in your responses, so I hope you’ll tell me what you think!

75 thoughts on “You tell us: What should a digital book be priced?”

  1. I still resist the ebook. One of the reasons is because I feel digital books are too expensive. For me, personally, I wouldn’t pay more than $2.99 for a digital book. Maybe $3.99 if it was my favourite author.

  2. Ruthie says:

    For a full-length novel, say 60k-100k words and up, I’ll pay $6-7 before I start to blink at the price, and I’ve certainly paid more and been happy. Pricing at $5 and under is most attractive, because I’ll pay that without even thinking about it. I do like to know how long a book is, and I want to pay 30 percent less or so for a novella.

  3. Meoskop says:

    Something close to the going rate of the print edition (not the cover price) I am comfortable with 4 to 6 dollars, resent higher.

  4. Amber says:

    $4-5 is about right. Most print mmpbs are $7-8. Since I lose quite a bit of value going from print to e, the price for e should always be lower. Print books can be returned, given away, traded, resold etc.

  5. I just published a post on my blog about e-book pricing and set up a poll!
    If you want to check it out and vote, here it is:
    Btw, I do mention you, Angela, on my post =P

    Now, to what I think about pricing of a novel-length work. I think I like Carina Press’s prices, around $4.5 and $5.5, isn’t it?

    The problem I see is that, with so many 99 cents books out there, the readers are changing opinion … who wouldn’t like to buy a Jimmy Choo shoes for $70 instead of $700?

    Anyway, like I mentioned on my post, when I’m a fan of the author and I know the fun and the love for the story is guaranteed, I pay a higher price, even if I’m not that happy about it.
    But, for a debut author, I hesitate and, most times, don’t pay a high price before getting recommendations of friends.

  6. Kristene Collins says:

    With the knowledge that people worth their salt as writers still have to hire editors, cover artists, possibly agents and publisher and digital book seller (think Amazon, etc.) cuts as well, I’d say that these things SHOULD be taken into account.

    That being said, paper and printing costs have been taken out of the equation, and this needs to be accounted for as well.

    I think for novels, the price should never go above $7.99, and technical manuals can be higher, even upwards of $30.00 — why? Because they provide a more tangible service. Obviously people feel they NEED the knowledge within the book otherwise they’d never have bought it.

    With a novel it’s all about entertainment value, and if you, as the publisher, are known to have lower prices, people might feel less of a risk buying books from you and you’re liable to sell more (If the book has good reviews, etc.).

  7. Great question. My novel was just released on Kindle and it’s selling for $2.99. The paperback edition, which came out in 2008, sells for $11.95.

    I’m hoping lower prices will bring readers.


  8. Libby Ware says:

    I, like the first commenter, have resisted eBooks for a long time because they’re just too expensive for me to not have some sort of tangible product inhand. I feel like $2.99 (MAYBE $3.50, if I really like the author) is a fair price for eBooks because it’s roughly half the price of a print book.

    While you can trade print books in for ones you haven’t read or donate them or any number of any things, once you have the eBook the only thing you’re legally allowed to do is delete it.

  9. Christi McMillen says:

    For a fictional book I won’t pay over $5 -$6 for a book. I don’t like that some books from well-known authors are charging 7-10 dollars for digital. The entire point of e-readers to begin with was to CUT down the costs of books, making it easier for the public to buy. Amber is right, printed books can be traded, given away, etc… they have more uses than a e-book. It shouldn’t cost as much to buy them.
    Now, with me saying that, you have to consider the price of producing the work. I self-published a novella and kept the price on the level of words. I don’t expect people to buy high priced books from somebody that is unknown but I still have to pay the person who did my cover art as well as editing my book. That isn’t cheap and even though I love to write, I can’t put myself in the red line for doing so. Keep it within reason, keep it withing a person’s ablity to pay and keep it realistic. So many people are in such misery due to financial constraints and reading something takes them away from their problems, if only for a little while. Our job, as writers, is to make sure they enjoy the ride, not make a bundle for ourselves.

  10. Dopey says:

    I exclusively buy ebooks, except if it’s a very special book (art or landscape design or cook book with beautiful pictures, for example).

    As a rule, for full-length novels, I’m happy as long as the ebook isn’t more than the paper book. I pre-order books from authors I know and enjoy, or from series I’ve really enjoyed. I don’t even think twice about books $2.99 or lower, although I only go for the 99c or freebies if the book really appeals to me. I don’t have time to read everything, and I’m willing to pay a higher price if I know it’s been well-edited, well-written and well though-out. At the most basic level, I expect correct formatting, chapter numbers etc, and I get very annoyed when ebooks are missing this. It’s just very sloppy, and implies ebooks are not important to the publisher, and my reading needs and wants are not taken into consideration.

    I have bought some ebooks which were outrageously expensive (non-fiction history) and I’ve always wanted to read – couple in the $16 range, and one at $36 (gulp).

  11. Scott Eagan says:

    Honestly, I think it is a shame that we want to charge less for a digital book than a paperback. The same time and effort goes into the book. Authors need to be paid as well. IMHO, use the same formula for determining the price of a paperback of the same size.

    If we start looking at discount rates, use the same standard we would use in a standard book store when the books are moved to a “discount” table.

  12. Serena says:

    I think digital books are wonderful. I just wonder why some of them cost the same as a paper back. I would think it wound at least be a few dollars cheaper there is not paper or printing cost involved. Working in a commercial print show I know how much printing can cost.

  13. If it’s a full length novel…like a mass market paperback would be. I would be willing to pay about 4.99 for it. I don’t like to pay the same price for a digital book as I do a print book, but I would also be more encouraged to buy the book during release week with a 30% off discount. That I would really love.

    What I really hate…is when a novella length book is more than 2.99. I feel more comfortable buying these types of stories when they are under $2.

    And some books should just be free…like when they are under 25 pages and are more of a teaser story than a short story…like ones that are meant to tempt you to read a series to get you hooked.

  14. Alica says:

    I think they should be half the price of the print book. But I also like when an author I haven’t read from before, the first book in their series is 99 cents because I don’t mind paying that for a book I don’t know if I will like. If I end up liking it, I don’t mind paying more for the rest of their books.

  15. Barbara says:

    Less than the price of the hard copy of the book — nothing irks me more than seeing a ebook priced the same as the mass market paperback. I don’t have the same rights with the ebook as I do with the MMP so why do I have to pay the same price?

    Also depends on if it is a new to me author…the lower it is priced the more willing I am to try it out since if I don’t like it, I don’t feel I’ve wasted money without being able to give it to the library or sell it to the used bookstore as I would if it were hard copy.

    Books in the $4-$6 range work really well for me! 8-)

  16. Laura says:

    I think that an ebook should be priced a few dollars less than a print book. I personally love my e-reader! I have tons of paper books that are just taking up space. I also take into consideration the number of trees saved.

  17. Heather S says:

    I agree with many of the other comments here. For a full length novel $4.50 to $5.50 is my limit. I guess because there aren’t printing costs (and yes I realize digital has other costs) that I can’t justify going to high. Then as the books get shorter the prices should reflect that.

    Plus, free or .99 books are great for promotionals.

  18. Gail Hart says:

    Since the publisher has far fewer costs to put out an e-book (no paper, no printing, no storage, no transportation), and the product is more difficult to use than a print book, I expect the cost to be significantly lower. The most I’ve ever paid for an e-book was $9.99, and I only paid that because I really wanted the book and I had a gift certificate, and I still felt resentful and ripped off.

  19. Elaine says:

    Less than its paperback counterpart.

  20. Becky Mullins says:

    For a complete novel between £7-£10 for a short story between £2-£5 I dont really pay any attention to the price. An ebook is normally still cheaper and just as good as a paperback if not better as you dont have to lend them out to friends! :)

  21. What I’m willing to pay for an ebook depends on a couple things: who the author is, and what version might currently exist in print. For example, I’m quite happy to plunk down 14.99 for the ebook of the forthcoming Dresden Files novel, on account of I love me some Jim Butcher and I have to have the book NOW, and I don’t want the hardback. For a trade release, I’m willing to put down 9.99 to 12.99 for the ebook. For a mass market, please to give me $5-7 and I’ll call it good.

  22. Becky Parman says:

    I buy almost all my ebooks for under $5.00. That said for a mass market paperback release I think $2.99-$5.99. I have to really, really want to read an ebook to pay more than that. I have new authors in non-familiar genres because they were cheap and looked interesting enough to try.(One of which was Steam and Sorcery. Loved it!) Without fail I have looked for other books by those authors.

    I switched to ebooks because I was a book hoarder so I didn’t believe the lack of resell ability was going to be a big deal for me, but the first time I paid $6.99 for an ebook that I hated and I couldn’t sell it or give it away I felt… well ripped off. It has affected my buying habits and not in a good way for most publishers.

  23. Laura Collins Phillips says:

    I think eBooks should be a few dollars less than “real” books. I was always too cheap (and clearly patient enough) to purchase hardcovers at first release, so I can only speak to full-length paperbacks. For a great book, I would pay on average 6-8 U.S. dollars. That doesn’t include a few cheapies at $3 or a few luxuries at $10. I’m talking normally here. With that said, I therefore think an equivalent eBook should be $4-6, with some exceptions of course. Hope that helps. Love Carina! So excited about Craving Perfect. :)

  24. Jess says:

    For books that I purchase, I exclusively choose digital options, so FOR ME, digital books are just as if not more valuable than a print version. I can adjust font size (VERY VERY important for me, as my vision isn’t the greatest), I can carry literally hundreds of books in my purse, I don’t have to worry about storing my print books or protecting them from my young children, and, I can access hundreds if not thousands of works that would have otherwise been unavailable to me. Sure, I can’t donate them or sell them or even give them away when I’m done (though I truly think that one day programmers will figure out a way to work DRM that allows just this), but on Kindle I can loan them to my friends, and in many cities, I could borrow the digital version of books from the library.

    Back to the topic at hand, I’ll be honest, my comfortable purchase price for eBooks is virtually identically as those for print books — if I’ve read and enjoyed works by the author in the past, I won’t hesitate to pay what I consider to be “paperback price” — between $5.99 and $7.99. If it’s an author I’ve never heard of, or never had the opportunity to read, chances are I won’t purchase for more than $3.99 or so, unless some of the reviewers I trust have given it a very positive rating, which is exactly what I would do for a print book in the same situation.

    On the flipside, I’d be hesitant to buy a full length novel (70,000+ words) for less than $2.99 because less than that, and I wonder what’s wrong with it.

    I agree with the previous comment that it’s shame that people don’t value digital as much as they do print. Yes, the physical costs for digital may be less than those of print (no paper, no ink, no shipping costs), but there are still payments to the author, the cut that the reseller takes, the cost of editors and cover artists and publicity and all of those other costs that are incurred behind-the-scenes in publishing.

    There is also the fact that a LOT of readers find ebooks to be more convenient (I am certainly one of them), and in this world, you pay for convenience. If you go to a grocery store, you will pay the same or even more for the 20oz soda that’s up front in the cooler than you will for the 2 liter that’s in the back of the store and is still warm. I see digital books similarly — you don’t have to wait for them to be shipped or to have to pay gas to go to the store to purchase it on release date, they are more portable, take up less room in your house, and often have features that print books don’t have, such as text-to-speech and adjustable font size.

    It’s when the print book drops in price and the digital price remains the same that I balk. I’ve seen countless numbers of books that have been on the market for over a year, and the new print paperback from the publisher (we’re not talking “used” books here, but brand new from actual bookstores) has dropped to $4.99 or so, but the ebook is still the original cover price. I really feel that while digital readers may come out slightly ahead in the world of new releases, we certainly get the short end of the stick on backlist books in general.

  25. library addict says:

    $4 to $6 for full-length books.

    Actually I don’t mind if the book is priced at $7 or even $8 so long as it’s able to be discounted. I know it’s just psychological, but coupons and sales make me a happy shopper.

  26. Emily D says:

    I’ve had my Kindle for about a month now. I purchased books by many new (to me) authors during Kindle’s Sunshine sale for under $3. There are a few I enjoyed so much, I’ve gone on to spend $4-5 for other books by those authors. Promotional pricing definitely drew me in.

    I don’t like to pay more than $6 (and it would have to be a book I’m very interested in) but prefer to spend less as I’m on a book budget. The highest I’ve paid is $9 but that was for a bundle of four books.

    It is frustrating to see an ebook priced the same as a mass market paperback, especially considering for new releases I could pick it up at someplace like Target and buy it at 25% off. Since the cost to produce and sell an ebook should be less than a paper copy, I do expect the price to be lower and assume a publisher could maintain the same, if not higher, profit margin with a lower-priced ebook.

  27. Caroline Mickelson says:

    I am content to pay under $10 for a digital book. I see no less value in a being digital versus paper. In fact, I see more value because of the trees saved. I detest the idea that paper books are stripped of their covers and destroyed. I rarely buy .99 cents books because I wonder how it could have been professionally edited at that price? No matter how talented the author is, there is immeasurable value in a well edited book and editors need to be paid.

  28. Rikki says:

    I wouldn’t pay more then 5-6$ for a full length novel.

  29. Carin says:

    I feel good about the $5 price point. Going lower (whether a sale or just priced lower) is a great way to try a new author. I have really enjoyed Carina Press’ lower-than-the-competition pricing.

    I do buy some books at the $8 price point and even paid $12 for Kiss of Snow, which I REALLY wanted and wanted NOW. It’s frustating not to be able to lend it out or pass it on, which I have done with a lot of my paper books. I can’t imagine every paying $8 or $12 for an author I didn’t know.

    I don’t do a lot of re-reading. Just every now and then. So now I have to look at the entertainment value. Is it worth the money for the ~4 hours it will take me to read the book? Is there something more entertaining I’d rather spend my money on?

    I’m definitely in the camp that ebooks should be at or lower than print book prices. I do value ebooks! But there are some serious limitations. I feel good when I loan or donate a print book. With an ebook the fun ends with me.

    Finally, I’ll pay more for a book I know will be well written and well editted. I never used to pay attention to who a publisher was, but I’ve found it means a lot to me now. I know I’ll get a good product with Carina Press. I know I won’t get a cover with a book from Berkeley. I know I’ll buy anything Courtney Milan publishes, because she did a great job with Unlocked.

  30. Marlena H. says:

    Personally, unless it’s a favorite author, I’m not willing to pay more than $5 for a physical copy. And since I still prefer physical copies to eBooks, when I buy an eBook I will be buying a physical copy as well, so I really don’t want to be paying $15 or so for the combined.

    I do have eBooks, mostly because some stories I wanted were only available in that format. Before I invest too heavily in them, I’d prefer to be able to get better organization in platforms that allow you to read them as well as a better ability to put them all on one platform. It’s faster to go to my physical bookshelves (which contain some 3,000 books) and find a book I want to read then it is to open up a platform and find the same book (for those few that actually are on both) or a different book that is also of interest which hasn’t been read recently. And I can only imagine how much more difficult it will get as my collection of eBooks grows.

    On price. I said above, that I rarely buy books over $5 unless it’s a favorite author. I still cringe at a $5 price tag though. I don’t really blink much at a price tag of $3.50 and I could handle $4. I think for something that I’m not getting a physical copy of, I don’t think I’d be much willing to pay more than $4. I might pay $5, but that’s pushing it.

    I do understand that a lot of people are still involved in the process of getting books out there, especially if something is only available in eBook form and thus they aren’t getting any money for a physical form. I think perhaps if I understood more the costs behind getting a book out there in eBook form, flat costs if there are any, percentages of profits for authors, artists, editors, whoever all is getting a percentage of sales, it might change my opinion, because right now, all I see is my side of it, and right now I think #3.50 is about right. Of course I’d love less, who wouldn’t, but I’d pay $3.50 without much problem.

    Above Kristene Collins mentioned text books and technical manuals. I agree that, fair or not, those are in a different category. People won’t be buying as many of them (unless they are trying to get all the info on one subject they possibly can) and thus for a good one will be willing to pay more. Since I don’t buy those books or not any that came out this century at any rate, I couldn’t say what they would be worth to me, but her suggestion of $30 sounds reasonable. I wouldn’t buy dozens of books in that category if they costed that much, but I might buy one or two here and there and people who need them would likely be equally more willing to pay more for them. There’s a difference between wanting something for enjoyment and needing something to fix or create something.

    So there’s my thoughts on the matter.

  31. Mark says:

    For a novel by an established Author I would go up to $5. For a new authoer or a debute author $2.99 or less. I wont evenbuy paperbacks from more than $6.99

  32. Kelly Boyce says:

    I think $7 and under works for me. Generally keeping it a couple bucks under the mmpb price is a good inducement to entice readers to buy digital. At least it does me.

  33. As cofounder of a small press I have to disagree with Gail and others who think it is vastly cheaper for print versus ebook.

    If you want a book that is vetted, edited, and cared for by a staff, versus self published, without ouside editing, then the break even cost is about $13.

    Print books are perhaps a dollar cheaper.

    How do books sell for less you ask? Partially due to subsidies from books that sell really well.

    The cost of print is not the issue, nor is storage in the age of on demand printing. No, Amazon, or others, for print, demand fifty percent off the suggested retail, plus the distributor demands twenty percent. Thus, the publisher has to figure those costs in…and digital then becomes almost the same price.

    Fair…depends if you want publishers, or you want to sift through the over three million self published books last year…most with no outside editing.

    Pardon typos in this response, it was done on an iPad with funky touch screen keyboard and auto correct.

  34. SonomaLass says:

    As several others have said, a lot of my perception of the value of a book is based on market comparison. If the book is available in print for the same or less, I resist buying it. Agency pricing by the big publishers has prevented me from buying quite a few titles. I don’t buy print very often, so usually that means I just don’t buy the book.

    I have fewer rights with digital books, so I feel I should pay less for them than the equivalent in print. Since mass market fiction tends to be $7 or $8, my comfort zone for digital is $5 -$6. Less for shorter works.

    I really wish publishers would make more use of strategic pricing. When a book is below $5, I am much more inclined to buy it on impulse; below $4, I hardly think twice. For new authors, or to get me interested in a series that I haven’t started, discounted price is a great hook.

  35. Clothdragon says:

    Ebook limitations.
    -Can’t lend them, single-user.
    -Must purchase something to read them on. (Some people can use a computer they would have anyway, but many of us can’t stay in that position long enough to read it from the screen.)
    -Electronics die and must be replaced.
    -Batteries die and must be recharged.
    -Format limitations. Now that Kobo’s store has gone out of business, is everyone going to have to repurchase all those book in a different format? Is Barnes and Noble next? How many people can still open a word document from 10 years ago? (What about WordPerfect?)
    -In essence, ebooks aren’t purchased so much as rented.

    Paperback limitations
    -Pages prefer to be close to one another making it hard to read on the treadmill, and perhaps hard on the hand if you use thumb and pinky to hold it open.

    When we buy a paperback we are not handing all the money to the author to pay for services of writing the excellent book. We’re also paying the publisher for the polishing and the printing presses and the paper. E-publishers have the polishing costs too, and server costs, but without paper, production SHOULD be significantly cheaper — and it is the publishers restrictions on lending that take away many of the uses we have for paper books.

    Do not point to me and say I’m devaluing the writer and the writing when you’re giving me half the product (full of limitations the publisher CHOSE to add) and asking me to be happy to pay full price.

  36. Carin says:

    @clothdragon – I might be wrong, but my understanding is that Borders is going out of business, but kobo is not. Also, kobo sells epub books, which can be read on many devices and apps.

    You do have a good point about being an early adopter of technology. With the vhs/betamax style battle still going on between epub and amazon style books (not to mention b&n) buying ebooks right now contains a risk that the devices we’re reading on may go out of production. I’ve cast my lot with epub and I’m crossing my fingers that amazon will adopt us instead of putting epubs of business.

    That whole issue is another reason I think ebooks should be cheaper than paper books.

  37. Scraps says:

    First off I think that Carina Press steals the show with their digital pricing! So far I haven’t found anything that beats it in terms of quality for both editing and packaging of the book but for the content as well.

    My preferred pricing for digital is between $6 and 8$ for a novel length work. I am willing to pay up to $9.99 in a FEW instances. I think, in the almost 2 years I’ve had my e-reader, I have purchased two or three digital books that cost more than $9.99. Those purchases have been for my ‘must have authors’ that were either continuing or finishing a series. Starting a new series, even for an auto-buy author, a price point of $9.99 puts them firmly on my wish list.

    For me my wish list is comprised of books that cost over $5.00. At $5 a book is an impulse buy for me. Meaning I’ll click over from a blog review or a blurb on a retailer’s site and buy without the flicker of an eyelash. Move that price up to $6 or $7 and I really think before I buy. Which for me means I put it on my wish list and then it gets prioritized with other wish list items. Something on my wish list could sit there for a year or more and not be purchased.

  38. TheLoneDeranger says:

    Never more than the paperback edition

  39. Chele Blades says:

    I think all ebooks should be have the price of the paperback price…i have a hard time paying over $6.99 for full length novel I believe its one of the reasons i still buy paperback on my series books because they run the same price as kindle price…

    paperback price reflects printing, covers, shipping etc…i would never pay the same price…

  40. JenM says:

    If I had my way, I’d read nothing but ebooks, so I’m happy that there are now so many available. Pricing for me totally depends on whether I know the author. If they are one of my favs. I’ll go up to $10 (still won’t go higher, not even for Patricia Briggs who is an autobuy for me). However, for everyone else, $6 is about my limit. If it’s more than that, I’ll be looking for a used paperback rather than buying the ebook. If the author is self-pubbed, I’m not usually willing to go beyond $4, unless I already know and love their books. Just out of principle, I also will NEVER buy an ebook if there is a physical book available at a cheaper price.

    I think that Carina and Samhain are doing a great job of pricing their ebooks to get maximum exposure while still keeping prices reasonable. I also appreciate that Carina prices their books consistently based on length, so that I’m not tricked into paying a higher price for a novella that is only 20K or 30K words long.

  41. Charles Gray says:

    5 to 7.99 seems to be fair for a normal book. As one of the above posters pointed out, technical manuals or academic works might need to be priced higher as they tend to require more in the way of act checking and multiple editing passes. Equally art books should probably be a bit more.
    Once we start hitting 10 dollars however, I find my willingness to buy dropping quickly.

  42. Moth says:

    $6 or under. Over $6 and I start to feel vaguely ripped off. If I want the book bad enough I’ll pay it, but I’m never happy with that. The ebooks that are priced at $13, $15 and up just seem crazy to me. I don’t pay that for hard copy, why would I pay that for a digital copy?

  43. Chrysoula says:

    I have no problems paying $10-$14 for an ebook I know I will enjoy, like a new release in an ongoing series I love. I’d prefer $10, though.

    I’ll pay $7-$10 for a book I’m pretty sure I’ll like.

    I’ll pay $5-7 for a book I’m interested in reading, if the sample chapter didn’t turn me off or it’s highly recommended.

    I won’t buy a book for under $4 unless it’s highly recommended, or one of the above categories heavily discounted. My general assumption is that the low-priced ebooks are not going to meet my fairly high standards, as they’re looking to make income based on volume, not quality.

    I categorically assume any full-length book priced between 99 cents and 2.99 is crap, the cheaper, the crappier. If it’s a first-in-a-series-sale, I might be inclined to clemency but I still haven’t bothered purchasing any of those.

    I’ll also buy an ebook version of a paper book I love at somewhere around $6 or below. I find ebooks immensely more valuable than paper books. I always read sample chapters before buying a new book and I’ll sometimes borrow from the library if I’m uncertain. Recently I read the first book in a trilogy from the library, then purchased the book. Same with the second book, and for the third book I just preordered the book.

    I do not have a large book budget and I do not buy a lot of books. I am extremely evangelical about books I love.

    I wonder what the comparison is on the number of $10 ebooks that need to be sold to break even vs. the number of (equally well produced) $2.99 books.

  44. Nicole A says:

    I love the price of ebooks! Myself, I find them cheaper than regular books. Through my Kobo, books that are hardcover in stores can be sometimes 70% off! For me, as long as they are somewhat cheaper than book form I think it’s fabulous.

  45. Isabel Roman says:

    Anything under $4.99 to $5.99 is reasonable. If it’s more expensive than a mass market it’s shady. Why pay $8+ for an e-book?

  46. Ursula says:

    for 70 – 110K – the 4 – 6 range, preferrably under 6. I say that knowing full well that I often pay more if I really want the book because while I don’t want to support agency pricing, I DO want to support digital publishing, so I always try to buy digital to send a small but important message.

    I love to shop, especially for books, especially digitally, on my kindle. In fact, I have to watch because I’m completely impuslive, and I read so fast I can clear through a mountain of books in a weekend. It’s easy to run up a serious tab when I hit my favorite shopping sites. So when I can get more for less, I end up buying more. I try things I might otherwise not look at.

    Over at the kindle boards there are several long running threads w/reader response to novel pricing as well, and I’ve read through most of it, which bring out a lot of interesting thoughts. If you have not checked it out, it’s worth the time, I got a lot of decent ideas about pricing and tolerance and the market from people who shop primarily digital.

    Prior to releasing my last book, I did about 6-8 months research on response to price across internet boards so I could have a better idea of what the market really was about. One thing I noticed: digital readers based on response seem to be really price to word count aware, and make some shopping decisions based on quantity of read. They’re also far more willing to try new authors below 5.99 (for most part) and below 4.99 (for a smaller segment). 6 bucks seems to be a threshold where less impulse and more thought kick in, and, 9.99 is the kiss of death for about 90% of those who elected to post on the topic. I also watch Kindle facebook very closely and see the same trending there through individual reader posts.

  47. Danielle West says:

    I hesitate to buy a full-length digital novel over $6.99. There had better be a lot of good hype and reviews for the book or loyalty towards the author/series. Carina is wonderful and I usually just autobuy since the prices are so reasonable. I never hesitate to buy a Carina novel- quality work and amazing prices. Publishers like Penquin, however, I only ever buy with gritted teeth and assurance that I will love the book and author. High ebook prices give me a lot of anxiety.

  48. Dara Young says:

    AI say $4 to $6 for full length. $2.99 and under for novellas, decreasing based on wordcount.

  49. Susan says:

    To quote Scott Eagan:
    “Honestly, I think it is a shame that we want to charge less for a digital book than a paperback. The same time and effort goes into the book. Authors need to be paid as well. IMHO, use the same formula for determining the price of a paperback of the same size.

    If we start looking at discount rates, use the same standard we would use in a standard book store when the books are moved to a ‘discount’ table.”
    As with music, authors receive very little from print book sales, and that’s only after they get their advance. With e-books, they receive more. If you think about it, print books cost more to produce and go through more corporate hands than many e-books, which are often produced by smaller publishers and are dealt with across a smaller platform (this isn’t the case for all e-books, of course, but because they’re cheaper to produce there’s more room for indie, small press, and self-publishing). If the same amount of money isn’t being spent producing a physical product (printing books, think of all that paper and ink and labor…), why should an e-book cost the same as a print book? It shouldn’t. E-books can cost less and authors can often times see more profit than they would with print. This is the beauty of digital media.

    People think that they should pay more for media as if the creators see a lot of profit from sales. With traditional publishing and music (although these two industries aren’t identical, obviously), that’s not necessarily the case. The creators are usually the last person to see a profit from sales, after everyone else who is involved in the product’s creation. Also, authors are usually paid much more by major publishing houses than houses receive in sales from an author’s book, causing houses to lose money. This is why major traditional publishing houses are floundering. “Celebrity” authors like Danielle Steele need to stop getting paid millions of dollars to do barely any work and produce a product that only generally returns half (or less than half) of what she was paid

  50. Michelle says:

    I think ebooks should be priced similar to mass market paperbacks. Most Kindle books are priced above this and it really irks me to pay more than that. I appreciate that Carina Press titles are priced based on length. Honestly, I would pay a couple more dollars per book than you charge now, but the lower prices do allow me to buy MORE.

    Thanks for asking!

  51. Lizabeth S. Tucker says:

    Digital books should be less than physical books because the expenses for producing and warehousing and other expenses aren’t there. You don’t have to deal with the increasingly expensive price of paper. No fuel expenses for either the production or transport of said books. No warehousing or remanding.

    Frankly, if the prices remain comparable to those of physical books, I demand that the excess saved goes into increased royalties for the authors. That I wouldn’t mind so much. But paying hardback prices for a digital book minus a mere 10% discount? No way in hell!

    It is part of the reason that my book buying has dropped so radically, not because of the economy or the decreased paycheck I now receive.

    You want me to pay over $4.99 for a digital book, show me why I should and where the monies go. Because it isn’t in the pockets of the authors or editors, that’s for certain.

  52. Julie says:

    I buy a lot of ebooks, and a lot of series books. For the first in a series, I prefer to buy it at 99 cents )or no more than $2.99), but if I fall in love with the series, I will pay up to about $5.99 for the next installments. I despise an ebook price of $7.99 or higher. Although, like someone above posted, I will still buy it if I’m in love with the author and dying for the book, but I will be pissed the whole time I’m reading it. :)

    Overall, I’d say ebooks should be a lot less than their print counterparts. While the effort and time spent writing the book is the same, when you purchase a print book, you have to pay more for the packaging which is not the case with digital media.

  53. Jennifer Murdock says:

    5.50 and under. I hate paying more for a digital book than a paperback book that I could pick up at Target or WalMart.

  54. I honestly think the Carina prices are really fair. They reflect the word length of the book and also the fact that producing digital books are less expensive than print books. I HATE the fact other publishers are trying to sell their ebooks for just as much (if not sometimes MORE) than the print book. This is why when I buy mainstream single title, I mostly still buy print books. From the online place I buy books, it’s usually cheaper than the e-format, and that’s including postage!

  55. nightsmusic says:

    There’s almost 60 comments here and I can’t read through them all right now, but my feeling is this:

    I don’t have but a few eBooks though I’m buying more. Slowly. I am too tactile a person to fill a Nook color with them though the few I have I enjoy because they’re so portable. But I miss the feel of the book itself.

    That said, I have no qualms paying the same price for an eBook I pay for a paperback. $7.99 is the average rate for a paperback and that price doesn’t make me balk for an eBook. However, paying $25 for an eBook because the only print edition is a hardcover? No way. I’ve seen that price and it’s ridiculous and frankly, unjustifiable.

  56. Lauren says:

    In general I’d prefer it to be around $7.99 or under, but my rule anymore is to never spend more than $9.99. Every time I’ve spent more than that on an digital book I’ve felt cheated. I’ll also never buy the digital copy if it is priced higher than mass market. Honestly I’d be willing to pay more if I felt like more publishers respected digital consumers.

  57. GrowlyCub says:

    At least $2 less than mmpb print price; around $5 for full-length and absolute no more than $1 per 10k word count for novella length, preferably less.

  58. Ridley says:

    I’d pay $5.99 at most. That’s what a $7.99 mass market paperback costs when I buy it through Amazon’s 4-for-3 sale.
    On principle, I don’t buy agency priced books at any price.

  59. Victoria says:

    I think that a digital copy of a new release hardcover should be no more than half the price of the print copy. If the book is a mass market or softcover, the digital copy should be no more than its print companion cover price; regardless of whether it is a Frontlist or Backlist.

    In the future, if and when print books are no longer produced then I could see the need to adjust the price of the digital-only book; being that the digital copy would be the only format available.

  60. I’d like to see full-length novels priced between $5 & $7. No more … that’s comparable to the paperbacks I buy; maybe a little cheaper.

  61. peggy h says:

    The highest I’ve paid for a single (non-bundle) ebook is $7.99, which is the cost of a mmpb. But the 2 times I paid that much were:
    1) for a sequel of a Hugo-nominated book that I already knew I would enjoy, and
    2) a book well-reviewed by reviewers I knew had similar tastes as I do. (Of course a couple of weeks after that, and before I read the book, the price went down to $2.99 in Amazon’s Sunshine Deals…but that’s another story!)

    I do appreciate that Carina books have no DRM–I feel that at least I’m not being limited as much. (Yes, I know there are ways one can find to crack DRM, but why do I need to do that? If I buy a print book, I don’t have to bring it to someone to be able to open that book for me so I can read it!)

    But honestly–would I pay over $5 for a book from an author whose work I’ve never tried before just because the synopsis sounded interesting? Unlikely.

  62. Sharon says:

    I love e-books. I own about 500 e-books. I have a Kindle, Nook and an IPad. For a well liked author I will pay up to $12.99 if the book is in hardback, prefer to pay no more than $9.99 for the e-book when the book is hardback for lesser liked authors. For paperback editions prefer to pay $5.99 to $7.99 for the e-book edition. I can change the font size on e-books, I have tried to go back to paper but the print is too small and sometimes a mess.

  63. infinitieh says:

    An ebook should be cheaper than its paperback counterpart. If I can’t enjoy looking at the cover (B&W on Kindle) and can’t sell it back to the bookstore for store credit to buy more books, I refuse to pay the same price. Right now, I don’t want to pay more than $2.99 for ANY ebook. For new-to-me authors, I won’t pay more than $1.99 (preferably $0.99). After all, I don’t OWN the ebook, just the right to READ it, so why should the ebook cost more than a movie rental?

  64. Evangeline Holland says:

    70k – $3.99-4.99 (length of a category romance)
    80-100k – $5.99 (the price MMPBs used to be *sigh*)

    I don’t mind “regular” prices for e-books since in this post-Agency model world, e-publishers can run sales and/or discounts.

  65. Camille says:

    I will hesitate to buy anything more than $13, that’s my limit. Usually if the ebook is more than that I’ll fork out cash to buy a hardcopy. Also depends on length as well.

  66. I prefer books in general to be around $10 or less, but I’ve certainly paid $15 without blinking.

    I dunno, price isn’t a huge sticking point for me. I love ebooks for so many reasons that I’d never go back to print. If I buy a book, I decide if I want to buy it based on that particular title – I don’t cross-check to see how much it costs in other formats.

  67. Angela James says:

    Thank you for such a tremendous response to this question. It’s been really illuminating to read your responses and the reasons for your opinions. It’s interesting to see how varied people are in their feelings, and also to see that, in some cases, people do see less value in the work in digital format, even though the work is essentially the same. I’m so glad so many of you chimed in!

  68. Alexia Reed says:

    I think that the $5-6 range, maybe up to $9 if it’s closer to the 100k range, is fair. Yes, there are a few limitations to ebooks, but I wouldn’t lower the price of the books more than $5.

    I do worry when I see ebooks that are in the 99c range- $2.99 range for a good sized book (I’m not talking about coupons and other discounts publishers put out). I’m more of a risk taker in what books I buy if I have an idea of a: the author and b: where it came from. I know readers are gobbling up books in the 99c- $2.99 price range, but I don’t want to see that become a standard pricing. I don’t think it’s fair.

    I wouldn’t, however, buy an ebook that is over $15.

  69. Ellen Herbert says:

    I am a reader, love books, and still buy in hard cover. I just finished M. Connelly’s THE FIFTH WITNESS and am reading weird with MR. PEANUT. If I think the book will be worth it, 25 bucks is fine.

    I have a new Kindle and look forward to downloading, but I would be suspicious of a book for $2.99.

    What Mr. Egan isn’t considering about the price of e-books versus paper or hardcover is: you can loan a hardcover book. Ostensibly you can share ebooks as well but I know of no reader who does that. So you sell me Lawrence Block’s A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF and I pass it around to several friends. Divide their number by 3 at least since this is a terrific book and you have about six dollars a person, the price of an ebook.

  70. Lisa J says:

    The $4 – $6 range for me. I’ve stopped buying most mass market because they are $7 – $8 and I won’t pay that for a books I can’t share with my family.

  71. Celine says:

    Considering the author should make some profit too, I would say about 4-5 dollar. It should be lower priced than the paperback, or I would just buy the paperback, not the ebook.

  72. Sarah says:

    I’m most comfortable with $5 or under. Anything over that and I want to be able to share it with others, which is only possible with physical books. That being said, I won’t pay over $10 for paperbacks anymore, the convenience and lesser price of ebooks is too attractive.

  73. Kelly says:

    I bought a Kindle back when they were still expensive in part to save money on books. Now I find that the paperbacks I used to read are cheaper than the ebooks. I feel ripped off. It is insulting to be told of the percentage I’m saving off of the full price of the hard cover (I rarely bought hard covers) when it is 30% more then the paperback I would have bought in the old days.

    In the old days, I’d buy and read a paperback and give it away. Or I’d recieve a used paperback and read it and give it away. Now the publishers are getting more for a book that only gets read once.

    I’ll gladly pay top dollar for a new release, but if there is a paperback, the eversion should be less.

  74. Rowan says:

    Max for me is $6.99 for a novel, $3.99 for shorter. I do feel eBooks should cost $1-2 less than their dead tree cousins. I prefer eBooks, but will buy the paperback if it costs less.

    If an eBook is for sale on more than one site, I always buy the non-DRM’d version when I can, even if it’s more expensive (unless I have to pay via PayPal, and that’s a whole other story).

  75. tungfa says:

    paperback novels are $8 – $9.
    I would NEVER pay more than $3 – 4$ for an ebook.

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