Rachel Willmer, who runs the excellent ebook price-comparison site Luzme, summarizes the price-preference data she's captured from her customers. By measuring the point at which readers are willing to buy ebooks (whose prices are variable) and the volumes generated at each price-point, her findings suggest the optimal price for ebooks in different territories. This is important work: because ebooks have almost no marginal cost (that is, all their costs are fixed through production, so each copy sold adds almost nothing to the publisher's cost), there's lots more flexibility pricing strategies. If you make more by pricing your book at $0.01 than you do at $10, the right thing to do is price it at a penny and rake it in -- a rational business wants to maximize its profits, not the amount that each customer spends (I wrote about this at length in 2010).
One of the most interesting findings in Willmer's work is that British readers spend more overall when books are priced around 99p, while sales to Americans are maximized when the books cost about $10. Willmer segments her customers into two groups: people who want a specific book right now, and people with a long list of books they prefer equally and who will buy whichever book is cheap at the moment (Luzme lets you make a wishlist of books and alerts you if the price for any of the books you're monitoring goes down). It would be very interesting to see this data further segmented by genre (as Willmer points out, one of her customers spent $134.84 on a technical reference book). "Books" are not a monolithic category (the Bible, the phone book, my novels and a med-school textbook are all "books") and ebooks are even more varied, as they are freed from length constraints -- it's possible to have an ebook that is 5 "pages" long, or 50,000.
But this is a fascinating first look at this kind of publisher- and platform-agnostic pricing information, and the specific insights about the difference between the British and American markets are especially interesting.
In the USA:
In the USA, ebooks sell at all prices from $1 up to $10.
The most popular price range was $1-2.
The most revenue was earned between in the $9-10 price range.
Specialised ebooks sell at high prices, over $100.
In the UK:
It’s completely different!
Ebooks don’t sell well above £5.
The most popular price range was <= £1.
The most revenue was earned in the <= £1 price range.
There is less evidence of specialised ebooks selling at high prices.
10 Things You May Not Know About Ebook Prices
Studio North was commissioned to refit an old elevator shaft in a converted warehouse loft in Calgary; they built a tall, narrow library with climbable shelves whose hand- and foot-holds retract into the shelving.
Libretaxi is an open source project that lets anyone become a rideshare driver in less than a minute; it has more than 20,000 users worldwide, and is maintained by Roman Pushkin, who started the project in December 2016 and is now planning to quit his job and work on it full time.
Mister Alphabet is an action-figure designed to cleverly bend and contort into every letter of the Latin alphabet; the website is long on trademark warnings and arty Instagram photos, but short on details, like, “Is this an object of commerce?” and “If so, where does one buy it?” (via Kottke)
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, […]