“What are the most effective publishing pricing models?”
Last Monday evening found us gathered at The Ivy for an interesting and engaging discussion on pricing within the industry. The panel consisted of George Walkley – Head of Digital at Hachette, Jo Henry – Director of Nielsen Book Research, and Nicholas Lovell – Director of Games Brief and Author of “The Curve”.
Justine opened the discussion by asking the panel to examine the issue of a fair price for a book or an eBook. First up was George Walkley who focused on eBooks and looked back over the years of experimentation with eBook pricing. There is now a definitive price range for eBooks, from £3.99 – £5.99, and this is seen as cost effective especially when compared to magazine prices, for instance. A fair price is a relatively low one but how fair is it to have an eBook costing the same as one and a half coffees from Starbucks? Does this make the content seem less valuable?
The relationship between volume and value was also examined and Jo Henry spoke how eBook pricing is directly influenced by how much self-publishing is out there. She noted how people are only wiling to spend small amounts of money on something they know nothing about. Impulse purchases are usually a result of a low price. Nicolas Lovell agreed with this and asked for a show of hands for all those who have bought cheap eBooks and never read them
The point was also made by Jo that data monitors what people have done and not what people would have done if the price was right. In effect, the data misses out on the feedback from all those who found the price to be too high and it is harder to get an idea of what the best price point would be. Nicholas thinks that competition for free content is inevitable and that while publishers and authors want to fight this, they need to keep up with competitors.
When questions were put to the floor, one in particular left us with food for thought. An audience member asked the panel their opinion on the “superfan concept”; will publishers begin to sign authors who have “superfan” potential over those who create great content? There is so much to be said for an author who comes with an established following and a guaranteed market for their books.
From a publisher’s point of view, this eliminates the need to invest in a huge marketing campaign. It also encourages authors to maintain and grow their connection with their readers, relating to them, empathising with them, keeping them close. Does this mean that the content suffers though? For those authors who don’t come with the 100,000 Twitter fans and the established social media persona, are they now at risk of not being signed? Or if they are signed, will their marketing budget be too small to allow them to gather the superfans? Watch this space……
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