Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wednesday round-up & book prices

The weekly editorial round-up. It was great that Michael Allen aka Grumpy Old Bookman agreed to do a Sunday Interview. I think he's right that nowadays, more than ever, marketing is something integral to book selling. It's a trend I've seen in other industries and it's reflective of the increased volume of media and role of marketing in our society. I'm currently having an interesting exchange of emails with Amazon related to pricing. I'll share it with you here once I can, but in the meantime I'm wondering exactly how pricing fits into the author marketing mix - because it does - and yet it can be something - like the book cover - over which the author can have very little influence. We know that promotional low pricing and multi-buy offers (eg 3 for 2s) can stimulate book buyers to take greater purchasing risks (e.g. try authors they've not tried before). My big question is rather how price elastic are book buyers? Meaning how high a price will book buyers tolerate before a sale is lost due to price. In this 2002 article an executive at a major US publisher is quoted as saying that books are highly inelastic. He's wrong. Yes, devoted fans may buy a book whatever the price and consumers expect to have to more for specialist titles, and so they will. However, as this excellent session paper from the International Publishers Association Congress 2004 rightly points out, general fiction and non-fiction titles have relatively high price elasticity. What is your experience? And what do you think? Publishers have to cover their costs and make a profit, but do you think your books are priced correctly? Have you had experience of changing prices impacting your book sales? Were you able to do anything about it?

2 Comments:

At 11/24/2005 01:44:00 pm, Blogger Kate said...

Kate, that price issue is really interesting. My second novel has just come out in paperback, with a promotional price of £3.99 - ie three pounds less than the standard cost of a paperback. The idea is that the publisher - and I - take less profit per book BUT hopefully sell more copies, and build up reader loyalty for subsequent books.

Obviously I hope this works, but when so many other books have promotions, it's hard to know if that discount will be lost on shoppers faced by thousands of titles in the bookstores.

Latest news is that Starter Marriage is on its fourth print run so I am keeping my fingers crossed...

Kate Harrison

 
At 12/02/2005 07:31:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a published author, but here's a view from a reader. I show high price elasticity. Paperback books seem very, very reasonably-priced compared with magazines. A magazine will often cost GBP3.95 or more, and has much less than half the content of a paperback novel costing GBP6.99, even if everything in the magazine is worth reading, which it rarely is. So I'll happily buy a paperback in a shop because I like the look of it, on the grounds that I don't lose much if I don't like it. But I never buy a hardback because they cost GBP15-20, more than twice the cost of the paperback for the same content, and harder to read on a train. But oddly I find 3-for-2 offers offputting and I'm actually *less* likely to buy a book if it's in one of those promotions than if it isn't. Partly because unless I can find two others in the same promotion to buy with it I don't get the 3 for 2 so I feel 'done', and partly because the existence of a 3-for-2 offer instantly rings my alarm bell that says 'this is probably trash'.
Kitty

 

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