How much should an ebook cost? This is one of those questions that is discussed endlessly among authors these days. “Price low and shift a bazillion units.” “99¢ devalues literature.” “I worked on this for five years; I can’t stand practically giving it away.” “All ebooks should be $4.99.”
To a certain extent, I think it’s a question with no answer. Everyone has their own top price they are willing to pay for a book, and not every book is going to have the same value to a potential buyer. Some people think paying under $10 for something is cheap enough to be an impulse buy, others hem and haw over paying a buck for anything. There is no right answer for everyone.
However, there’s a new model being proposed and I’ve decided to participate in the experiment. Scribl.com is a new ebook marketplace that uses a fluctuating pricing structure based on popularity. The idea is that by charting popularity of downloads, they can prove what the market will bear.
On Scribl, all ebooks start at free. As more people download the free version, the price moves up a tier. The more downloads at any price, the higher the price becomes.
The idea is that the market will bear a higher price for more popular books and that, as a reader, you know that if a book is priced at $6.99, that’s because a lot of people have already purchased it.
I’ve put Beautiful Red and a new novella (maybe more of a novelette, really) called Fire. Escape. on Scribl. For now, they are both free, so if you want to get an ebook copy of either or both, head over to Scribl soon.
Disclaimer: This is an experiment for me. I don’t believe there is a correlation between quality and popularity, so being able to judge a book by its price isn’t something I buy at all. However, the current state of the art in ebook pricing is out to lunch, so I welcome people who are trying to innovate in this space, and want to support the attempt. If this interests you, go check it out.