Don’t price your ebook at $1.99

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What’s the right price for your self-published ebook? You’ll probably want to stay in the $2.99 to $5.99 range, new data from Kobo’s Writing Life platform suggests — and stay away from $1.99 if you want to maximize sales.

Publishers Weekly reports on Kobo’s self-publishing platform, Writing Life, which launched in June 2012. Mark Lefebvre, Kobo’s director of self-publishing and author relations, tells PW that the $1.99 price point “is dead”:

“Authors most often start at $2.99 ‘and walk the prices up,’ he said, noting, ‘A low price point may be a hook, but it’s the quality of a work that attracts readers, not the price.’ Lefebvre added that $1.99 is dead ‘not just for us, but also, it seems, on other platforms,’ pointing out that $0.99 KWL titles sell twice as many copies as those at $1.99, and that ‘$2.99 sells more than four times more.’ About 80 percent of the KWL titles that sell consistently are priced in the $2.99–$5.99 range, and he also pointed to ‘a bit of a lift in the $7.99–$9.99 price range.'”

This is corroborated by a recent report from self-publishing platform Smashwords, in which Smashwords CEO Mark Coker called the $1.99 price point “a black hole” and said to avoid it. He found that “on average, $3.99 books sold more units than $2.99 books, and more units than any other price except FREE.”

So what is the problem with $1.99? It may be that readers have come to associate it with bargain-basement quality; they may see $0.99 or free as a promotional or limited-time price and $2.99 and above as a marker of quality. I’d love to hear thoughts from self-published authors in the comments.

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