The newest proliferation of $0.99 for 8 book sets is now all the fad. Writers, I know there is a good marketing reason for capturing readers with our first 'free' book and then have them coming back for more, but now that the reading public can fill their e-readers with practically free 'bestselling' books, what is their incentive to pay you a fair price for your next book? And what is a fair price these days?
There is an article in the WSJ today that talks about clothing prices, "Looking for New Ways to Set Prices, Retails Take Cue From Customers". Here is an excerpt: "Now that list prices have grown so detached from what shoppers actually pay, some retailers are experimenting with new ways of determining what their goods should cost....It turns out customers are sometimes willing to pay a higher price than retailers would have otherwise charged. ...Pricing an item too low at the start can signal that it isn't worth much, Mr. Zhang [a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business] said. But the practice has led to a cycle of discounting that frustrates retailers and confuses consumers."
I get it, we all want our books to be read and with the voices of bloggers and twitter-parties often trumping professional reviewers when it comes to sell-through, getting your foot in the door/getting your ebook on anyone and everyone's e-reader is the first step to [hopefully] selling these buyers your second book. BUT, if your self-pubbed book is free, and, according to bookgorilla, John Green's THE FAULT OF OUR STARS ebook is worth $3.99, then all of us in publishing will need to downsize our houses, our food bill, our lifestyles because unless you are selling a heck of a lot of books, at $3.99 or 1/8th of $0.99 or at the golden 'price' of FREE, we have all just devalued ourselves to a point of below the already pitiful American minimum wage.
And according to the WSJ, we may be too late to change our consumers' mindsets. In a related article in today's paper, "Black Friday's Illusion of Discounts", Suzanne Kapner writes, "Retailers, having trained customers to shop for deals, are stuck with the strategy for now. Macy's tried to cut back on coupons in 2007. "Customers stopped shopping," said Macy's Chief Executive, Terry Lundgren, "so we knew that was a bad idea."
P.S. 11/27/2013, just received my bookgorilla email and FAULT OF OUR STARS is now $2.99, and DAVID AND GOLIATH by Malcolm Gladwell is $3.79. And these prices are not Author-induced. For this we have a little help from Goliath.
Kindle users! The Fault in Our Stars is currently just $2.99. Amazon's (literal) loss. Our gain. http://t.co/l34tSYhiqL
— John Green (@realjohngreen) November 27, 2013