Ebook Pricing at Sci Fi - Arizona

Long time customers of this site will recognize that we have recently increased the price of many of our ebooks from $5.00 to $7.50, undoubtedly causing many people to mutter under their breath, "What the hell is going on?"  That being the case, I thought an explanation was in order.

Most price increases are the result of increasing cost of production for a product.  Ebooks are peculiar this way.  Once placed online, there are no costs of production, no printing presses or binding machines to power up, no shipping, no nothing.  There are, however, other factors that must be considered.  There is the cost of maintaining the website, the cost of keeping the money collection system running, etc.  Our recent ebook price increase had nothing to do with any of those things.  What drove it was Amazon.com.

The Amazon Kindle was the first truly successful ebook reader.  I know because I am the proud owner of three of them.  Prior to the Kindle, there were several attempts at producing electronic gadgets to read ebooks.  They met with varying degrees of non-success.  It wasn't until Amazon came along with their wireless delivery system that someone cracked the code and book readers took off.  And like all pioneers, Amazon now finds itself in a crowded field.  In addition to the Kindle, we now have the Apple IPAD, the Barnes and Noble Nook, and the updated Sony Reader.  There are also smart phones like the Apple Iphone and the Sprint EVO that make perfectly adequate ebook readers.  There is even a Kindle APP to run on each of these where Amazon sells Kindle editions.

While most of us were going about our daily lives, another electronic revolution has crept up on us. 

When I released GIBRALTAR SUN some four years ago, I kept track of my sales.  They split evenly: 50% ebooks and 50% trade paperbacks.  I have done the same since GIBRALTAR STARS was released on October 1, 2009.  The statistics are rather startling.  My sales since the release of STARS are as follows:

    Amazon Kindle Editions:    59%
    Other Ebooks:                        30%              
    Trade Paperbacks:               11%

Ebooks, which were 50% of my total sales only four years ago are now 89% of sales.  And that isn't the good news. Because of the competition between Amazon and Apple, Amazon is increasing the amount they pay authors from 35% to 70%.  They are doing this to match the rate Apple pays authors and the software writers who produce APPS for the IPOD and IPAD.

This is a REALLY big deal.  When I was with Ballantine-Del Rey, I made 6-8% royalties on the sale of my books,  Now I will be making 70% per book on books that are priced $2.00 higher than were my original paperbacks (it was quite a long time ago). For the first time in 300 years, the authors are no longer indentured to the publishers.

There is a catch, of course.  There is always a catch.

To take advantage of the new 70% payout schedule, an author must meet certain requirements.  One of these is that you cannot sell your ebook for more than you sell your trade paperback of the same title. That is no problem for me.  However, another requirement, and the one that most interests those reading this page, is that an author cannot sell ebooks on his own website for less than he is selling them on the Kindle site.

To be able to sign up with this new program, I have standardized on a price of $7.50 for all of my ebooks at both Amazon and Sci Fi - Arizona.  All except ANTARES DAWN, which I will sell for $6.00.

I can hear the questions now:  "What's wrong with ANTARES DAWN?"  Nothing whatever, as I'm sure those of you who have read it can testify.  DAWN is my "loss leader."  It is probably the best book I have for capturing the loyalty of new readers.  If you happen to like what I write (and you probably wouldn't be here if you didn't), DAWN is the book most likely to set the hook and reel you in.  I call it the crack cocaine theory of marketing.

So please don't hate me.  I'm just trying to make a modest living as an independent author/publisher.

However, also don't be blind to what is going on.  The paperback book, as much as we all love them, is on its way to wherever the abacus, the dodo bird, and the typewriter went.  I have been predicting the ascendancy of ebook readers for twenty years.  It seems that we are well on the way to seeing that prediction come true.  A new age is dawning.  No longer will poor wretches pound away on battered keyboards, only to sell the fruits of their labor to a giant, soulless corporation known as a 'publisher.' Those of you who purchase books are about to set free an entire generation of wordsmiths.  I hope we all enjoy our Brave New World, because like it or not, it is almost here.

Michael McCollum
Tempe, AZ
June 30, 2010


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