Is there an optimal price-point for eBooks?

stock-footage-green-dollar-sign-bouncing-seamless-looping2The real issue with piracy is a hot topic this week, it seems.

Forbes published an article just yesterday which reported that pirating camcorder copies of the hit movie The Avengers which debuted last week didn’t seem to hurt moviegoer numbers any. They maintain that the movie-going experience is one that very few people compromise on for the big ones such as The Avengers.

I had a discussion with classmates and an course facilitator a few weeks ago on the issue that Forbes highlighted too: piracy of movies and music is not just about stealing what is available for purchase, and if The Avengers numbers are anything to go by, piracy of movies has more to do with accessibility than anything else.

There is a difference with eBooks, however. Presumably, accessibility of eBooks is of far less of an issue than platform and price-point. As editor here at, I’ve heard from many a reader who’s primary electronic reader is not either of the big boys – i.e. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, or Kobo. For them, it’s not so much that the price or the availability is an issue, but rather the inability to access eBooks for their platform.

Indeed, Smashwords published results of a price study that showed people will buy eBooks at what seems to be a “sweet spot” price between $2 and $3. Books sold at this sweet spot price sold “6.2 times more units than books sold at $10” (Smashwords blog, April 25, 2012). Like, is an independent eBook publisher who caters to indie authors. And here at, our own experimentation with a price-point showed much the same results with the unit priced at $2.99 selling just about 6 times more than the other 2 price-points in our study ($0.99 and $4.25).

If you look at statistics and number crunching with as much difficulty as I sometimes do, you are probably asking yourself what this really means for you. I can tell what it means to me: it means that people will buy eBooks. The debate has always been that people won’t buy where they can get it for free. The statistics tell us that this is not necessarily the whole truth and that there is an optimal price at which people will be willing to purchase over and above other prices points.

I can’t deny that this topic has aroused my curiosity about Amazon’s statistics. I wonder what effect the agency model has had on eBook sales for them? I wonder what their statistics show their sweet-spot price point to be? Amazon notoriously keeps their numbers close to their chests, so reports on the details of their sales and price points is not something we can know at this point in time. Though it would be interesting see, wouldn’t you say?

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