Lippman eBook Price Finally Makes Sense

When I checked Amazon earlier this month to download the new book by one of my favorite mystery writers I was shocked to see the price of $15.99 on the eBook, which was higher than the $11.51 for the paperback and just 20 cents less than the $16.19 hardcover!

photo-25I posted a complaint on Laura Lippman’s Facebook page and vowed not to buy the new book. I also noted other complaints about the price of “After I’m Gone.”

I’ve bought nearly every book Lippman has written. If not in paperback, I have it on my Kindle. I decided I’d be borrowing this one from the local library. Thankfully, the price is now down to $11.19. I saw a note by another reader that it had dropped to $13.59 at one point since the February 11 release before coming down more than $2.

It’s still high for an eBook, but at least it’s now appropriately less than the paperback. And, of course, it’s Lippman and likely to be a fantastic read, so I’ll buy at this price.

I don’t know what drives the price of eBooks, so I asked the owner of a small publishing house. He uses the profit margin of a book to determine the eBook cost. Asked why a publisher might price an eBook at more than a paperback, he said, “Because they can.”

I’ve downloaded freebies and paid a little over $10 for eBooks, but it has to be a book I’m clamoring to read before I’ll pay that much. I recently bought John Grisham’s new “Sycamore Row” for a great price at $6.49, which was $3.50 less than the paperback on Amazon and a fantastic story!

Checking the New York Times top five bestselling books in fiction for the week of March 3, I found the following on Amazon:

  • “Private L.A.” by James Patterson sells for $11.99 on Kindle, $12.24 in paperback and $16.80 in hardcover
  • “Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt sells for $7.50 on Kindle, $16.95 in hardcover with no paperback offer
  • “Killer, An Alex Delaware Novel” by Jonathan Kellerman sells for $11.48 on Kindle, $20.59 in paperback, and oddly $16.80 in hardcover
  • “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd sells for $10.91 on Kindle, $16.63 in paperback with the hardcover at just 14 cents more
  • “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” by Anna Quindlen sells for $10.65 on Kindle, $14 in paperback

I would encourage publishers and writers to realize the impact of price. Readers may be big fans, but cost will influence most of us when deciding whether to buy your book.

What’s your price limit on a book? If you’re a writer how do you decide pricing?

Photo by Lori Ericson