Book Sales: Pricing Considerations for an eBook - article

You want to publish an ebook, but you're not sure what all it entails. There are many ways ebooks are distributed: through Amazon, Nook (B&N), Apple iBooks, and more. These platforms charge publishing companies and self-published authors a percentage of a book’s sale price, and that percentage changes depending on the online retailer and the list price.

The New York Times took a look at ebook pricing. They placed the base price of the example book at $12.99, or at half of the hardcover price. They reviewed the current breakdown for traditional publishers, which follows:

50% gross revenue
           - minus 4% digitizing, book cover design and editing
           - minus 6% marketing
           - minus unearned advances
           - minus overhead costs
20 -30% platform distribution
25% royalties for the author

With this base of traditional books as a point of comparison, look at the pricing of individual ebook titles. Here is a listing of some common price points for ebooks, as well as some of the reasoning behind those prices.


• Free books are sometimes offered by authors to promote a whole series of books. An author releases the first book for free, but charges a fee for subsequent books in the series, generally $2.99 or more.

• A free ebook is sometimes used by an author to promote his business. The business provides revenue streams. The author has created the ebook to enhance his business, so no profit is needed.

99 Cents

• This ebook price is often the introductory price. Authors price their ebooks at a low price for a short time period and then raise prices to $2.99 or more.

• This price may also be a gimmick price. Perhaps a popular NYT bestseller costs $9.99. A self-published author with a similar title may try to bleed sales away from the bestseller by offering his book at the 99 cent price point. In essence, such pricing is a way of piggy-backing onto the wave of another successful series. Easy to understand. Hard to do. 


• This price is also often an introductory price, but in this case the price of the book will rise to $4.99 or more after the introductory period.

$4.99 to $9.99 

• The $4.99 price point is for stand-alone ebooks.

• Books that were first published in hardcover print, generally are priced at $7.99 to $9.99 on ebook platforms.

Higher than $9.99

• According to The New York Times, readers do not want to pay more than $9.99 for ebooks. However, major publishers disagree and have negotiated with distribution platforms to price books higher than $9.99.

• Textbooks – Textbooks are already priced higher than other kinds of books. In e-format, textbooks will be lower in price than their print versions, but will continue to be pricy because of exclusive and expert content.

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