Pricing eBooks—Logical Assumptions Need Not Apply

There’s really no consistent logic to how eBooks are currently priced. Publishers want prices higher to increase profit margins. Amazon wants prices lower to encourage increased sales volume. Apple wants prices more standardized, because that’s just the way Apple does things. There have been reports of eBook editions selling for higher prices than printed editions, which makes little sense except that some publisher has decided that they can make more money this way. There have been reports of Amazon capitulating to publishers’ demands to raise eBook prices, followed by reports several months later of Amazon forcing publishers to sell their eBooks at lower prices.

Kindle Pricing Screenshot

eBook pricing variability on view at Amazon—randomness reigns!

There’s not much clarity to be gained by watching the big boys try to bully and bludgeon each other over pricing. WalrusInk pricing will attempt to establish a price that is fair to consumers and provides a reasonable profit to our partnership of editors and authors so that we can earn a reasonable living. We have attempted to model this with some assumptions about volume and velocity, but there’s very little history on which to base our assumptions. One ends up with a set of variables that is larger than the set of constants, which is akin to looking at the stars to predict the future only to find that there are ever more stars and no predictable future.

Nonetheless, the eager-beaver budgeteers at WalrusInk have decided to base our model on a standard eBook price of $9.99. We could build a numerical model to justify this decision, but in the end, it seems like a fair and reasonable price from just about every point of view. It’s easy to imagine that some of our shorter eBooks will sell for less, but we’re more likely to want to split a book into two parts than go for a single book at a higher price. Why? That’s a discussion for a future blog. —Professor Walrus