Ten Things You May Not Know About Ebook Prices

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How much should you pay for an ebook? $9.99? $0.99? $0? And how much should you price your ebooks? I’m going to tell you what people have actually paid for their ebooks, based on some hard data from Luzme. You can set the price of your book to be anything you want; what really matters is what someone will pay for it!

Last year, Luzme captured a large amount of ebook price data and reader pricing preferences. I am analysing this data and will share any interesting results.

I do not claim that this is representative of the whole ebook industry, but I hope that some real data might contribute something useful to the debate.

So here is my analysis of the actual prices that people have paid at Amazon in 2013, when they bought via Luzme.

USA

For the US data, I have normalised it against the “standard price” of $10.

Here is the way the various prices worked in terms of units sold.


The most popular price points are at the low-end, with a local peak around the $10 mark, and then tailing off as the price increases.

This does not surprise me. But what I did not expect, is how much people will actually pay for an ebook (well over the $10 price! How much do you think the most expensive one went for? I will tell you later…)

Now look at the revenue over the same price points.

See how the $9-10 range shows a spike of revenue? I suggest this validates the industry viewpoint that there is a good market for books priced around $10.

UK

The UK market is a completely different story. Here, I have normalised the data around the £6-7 range, which is roughly $10.

By far, the largest number of units sold is £1 or less (mostly 99p). And then it tails off as the price rises. There are hardly any sales over £5 (approx $7.50)


And the revenue tells the same story; £5 or less is where the sales are.

So why the great difference?

I can understand why there are markets for both low-price ebooks and $10 ones.

From talking to my users, they fall broadly into two categories. First there is the avid readers who buy many books each week; their watchlist is so long that they are happy to buy whichever is cheap today. Then there is the reader who has a particular book in mind; they do not buy very often but when they do, they are not price-sensitive, they just want the book straightaway.

But why the difference between the US and the UK?

In the UK, there is usually a fierce price war going on between Amazon and some new entrant; currently it is Sainsburys, previously it was Sony and Nook. But there is usually someone trying to buy market share by discounting the price. Previously we had the 20p offer from Sony, now 99p seems more common.

In the USA, the current tussle appears to be between the existing ebook stores and the new startups wanting to sell you a subscription model (aka “Netflix/Spotify for ebooks”)

In Summary

10 facts you may not know about 2013 ebook sale prices, as seen at Luzme:

In the USA:

  1. In the USA, ebooks sell at all prices from $1 up to $10.
  2. The most popular price range was $1-2.
  3. The most revenue was earned between in the $9-10 price range.
  4. Specialised ebooks sell at high prices, over $100.

In the UK:

  1. It’s completely different!
  2. Ebooks don’t sell well above £5.
  3. The most popular price range was <= £1.
  4. The most revenue was earned in the <= £1 price range.
  5. There is less evidence of specialised ebooks selling at high prices.

And..

  1. Someone thought an ebook was worth $134.84! “Digital Signal Processing in Power System Protection and Control”, to be precise…

Rachel Willmer is the founder of Luzme, a book comparison site. This is part of a series on crowdfunding and publishing, The Mytro Project. For future posts I’m looking for more input from online analysts and other crowdfunding platforms so please email me at john@techcrunch.com.