This post, by Jane Litte, originally appeared on Dear Author on 3/17/11.
Pricing of books is a very important topic, both to readers and authors. With the rise of self publishing, finding the right price for a book falls heavily on the shoulders of the author. There is much discussion about the right price of books.
Stephanie Laurens blog seems heavily devoted to exploring the topic of price and she brings up a variety of issues to consider from the author point of view when considering pricing such as market reach and type of commodity being sold. Zoe Winters contemplated whether low pricing, such as 99c pricing, attracts the “wrong” kind of reader. Joe Konrath posts regularly about his pricing experiences. There’s a lot of food for thought in all of these aforementioned posts but I am not unpacking any of them today. Instead, today I want to talk about value because value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
In economics there is a term called price discrimination. In ideal market conditions and if the seller has sizeable market power, everyone pays a different price for a commodity based on their “willingness and ability” to pay. (See Dr. Hughes, I did pay attention during three semesters of economics classes with you). The airlines employ price discrimination by selling seats on the plane at different prices.
Every reader has a different price they are willing and able to pay for a book. I believe that price represents the value a reader places on a book at the time of purchase. However, value can vary over the course of time from when the reader first becomes aware of the book to after the book is read, increasing and decreasing based on different variables. When readers speak about price, they are talking about the amount that they are willing and able to pay at the particular time that they are expressing the opinion about price. Willingness includes the measurement of time.