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The eBook Price Conundrum
Anne Hill, founder of Creative Content Coaching, has written a blog post at Huffington Post informing authors and readers about the role eBooks have to play in a developing literary market.

Anne Hill has written an impressive blog post on the importance of digital publication at the Huffington Post that looks critically at the benefits and negatives. She writes in the introduction to her blog post "By all accounts, the publishing industry is in tough shape. Sales are down, bookstores are closing, and many authors are leaving traditional publishers in favor of publishing eBooks. I have been watching these changes with growing interest, as have most other authors I know who have either entered or are considering entering the burgeoning world of digital publishing."

She makes some promising comments about how the Amazon Kindle has helped to promote an open publishing market. The eBook market has allowed more debut authors and young writers to enter into a competitive market with low overheads and an accessible marketing strategy. The problem with her blog post is that she looks at pricing from the perspective of an emerging author, rather than from a notable author. Most emerging authors who publish on the Amazon Kindle will price their novels at the lowest possible price in order to make it easier for people to access their novels but notable authors will price their eBooks at the same price at a mass market paperback. For example, an emerging author's novel will cost 99p whereas an author from the likes of Iain Banks may cost up to £9.99.

There is a disparity between what emerging authors are charging and what notable authors are charging. There's a reasonable argument to be made that acknowledgment of talent warrants higher price and I certainly agree with the argument but I disagree with the mindset of authors and publishers on this issue. They are arguing that the same price should be charged for an eBook as for a mass market paperback but there are lower costs involved. An eBook has no distribution costs or printing costs and lowers overheads by requiring a smaller time-frame between completion and publication. On what grounds are publishers making this decision and why are emerging authors forced to lower their prices in order to compete with them?

Anne Hill is looking at this from an emerging author's perspective but she doesn't give any advice about how to market a digital book or how to price them. A debut author will have to price their eBook at a lower cost simply because a standard paperback price will dissuade readers from purchasing your novel. A marketing strategy is going to be localised to social networking, especially blogs and Twitter. Any author looking to publish in an electronic format must look at cost versus benefit. Price your eBook to what you think someone would pay for your work, not what you would pay.

You can read Anne Hill's post here.

Ian Caithness is the Digital Editor at the National Association for Writers in Education.
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