139. What would you pay? Pricing a book

Oscar Wilde said that a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Oscar Wilde

Setting a price is an art, not a science. But it’s not all guesswork. As a trip round any shop will confirm, pricing at one penny under a round number is a common ploy to lure the consumer. So my price was going to end in 99 pence.


Set a level too low, and readers will perceive it as having no value, set it too high and nobody will buy. Amazon (the premium book retail site) offers 70% return to the author on prices between £2.99 and £9.99, providing a range within which the sweet spot should lie.

The average cost of a fiction title in 2018 was £3.23, but the important thing is to pick a level in relate to comparable titles, which takes a little research. Looking at some comparable authors, I located a price point at around £7.99 to £8.99.

You also need to set a price that will cover your production costs. The print on demand cost for a single copy of my book is around £5, but costs come down as the number increases. A print run of 500 copies brought my unit cost down to under £2.

Finally, you need to factor-in discounts for wholesalers and retailers. Assuming 45% discount on a paperback and 30% on e-books, I calculated that a price of £7.99 for the paperback and £3.99 for the e-book would give me a return of £1.20 and £2.79 per copy respectively.

pricing strategy

4 thoughts on “139. What would you pay? Pricing a book

  1. Hi Neil,
    Placing your book in the market at the right price is always a tricky one. If you compare other books in your genre many factors come into play. I have seen famous authors have their kindle books at a price comparable with their paperback. Perhaps,this is a ploy to push the printed version.

    Our local MP campaigned to have vat removed from e-books in the UK. She argued that readers, in particular children e-books, should not have to pay.
    I am not sure she really understood the book industry.
    Firstly – the big publishers have not changed their pricing strategy.
    Children’s books prices remain in expensive group.

    Amazon has gained by not having to collect and administrate the vat, the treasury has lost out on their vat income.

    Yes, book pricing is tricky.

    Liked by 1 person

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