The Business Section: Kindle eBook Pricing Strategy

Added on 10 January 2013

These days on Kindle most of my titles are published by Blasted Heath - LOST IN JUAREZ being the only exception. Blasted Heath have been searching for a while for the ideal pricing structure; one that promotes sales, but also might earn us all some money. (The Blasted Heath fellows, as well as this author and his family, have all been living on gruel and the leftover scraps from the bins outside the nearest McDonald's for too long.)

With the current domination of the 20p book in the Amazon chart - and there's another bizarre story of capitalism gone bonkers - it's getting more and more difficult for the independent publisher to get a foothold in the Kindle market.

One of BH's plans is to make THE LONG MIDNIGHT OF BARNEY THOMSON a free download on a permanent basis. It might seem nuts to make one's best selling book free, but then the benefit of doing it with this title is that there are six more novels in the series, that can be reasonably priced.

The difficulty is in getting the book to be free. Amazon Kindle Select allows publishers to make books free for five days every three months, which is of no use. It invariably brings short term gains, but little more. Even that is on the wain with so many writers and small publishers trying the same thing.

In order to get Amazon to make a book free permanently, one must make it free on another publishing platform, then point this out to Amazon, and hope they price match. So, many months ago Blasted Heath made THE LONG MIDNIGHT OF BARNEY THOMSON free on Kobo and sat back and waited, the expectation being that Amazon would quickly price match, the series would take off, and we would all be driving Aston Martins and lunching with Will & Kate by Christmas.

Amazon took several months to price match, finally doing it in early December. A month went by. The book spent the bulk of that month in the Top 50 of the free chart. Thousands of downloads. Sales of the series began to pick up slowly, but it was always a long-term process. Then, last week, BH had to make an adjustment to the manuscript, and as soon as they did that, Amazon took off the price match. The book returned to the not exactly inflated price of 99p.

So, BH are doing the limited they can currently do to try to get Amazon to price match again. And so we sit and wait. The last month has probably seen the highest amount of downloads of the Barney Thomson series in all history, but all we've got to show for it at the moment is enough profit to buy a Gregg's steak pie and a cancelled invitation for dinner at Kensington Palace.

Meanwhile, the publishers and authors of the 20p books feast at the table of Amazon's desperation.

UPDATE 11th January 2013: AWOOGA! AWOOGA! The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson has now returned to being a free download.