Every eBook publisher and author wants to build a following, gain readers who will talk about their books, leave reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords or any other online ebook store. Everyone wants to find this pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so when the newly published realise that books don’t sell automatically, they enter the world of marketing and promotion and try to work out what successful authors are doing that is bringing them such enviable success.
Very close to the top of the list will be pricing. A new author quickly learns that although a bestselling author might be able to charge $4.99 for a book, their sights should be set much lower. They quickly learn that many authors make make their mark with books priced at 99 cents, or even free.
Someone new to ebook publishing might find this strange. After all, $2.99 isn’t much more than a price of a cup of coffee, but habits form quickly and trends emerge that are impossible to turn back. Once good writing can be had for free or as little as $0.99 why should anyone pay more? Especially for the work of a writer they had never heard of until one of their books popped-up up at random on some blog or other, or on an Amazon “also bought” list.
Like it or not, low pricing is with us and that is very unlikely ever to change. In fact somewhere around the corner virtually all ebooks might be free. Instead of cover charges, authors might make their income from advertising. After all, many websites and e-products already make profit from carrying adverts, and Facebook and Google do very well from selling advertising to anyone looking to market a product, promote an idea, or showcase a service. Put simply, mass, cheap advertising makes some people a lot of money
One thing that currently holds back this possibility, and ebook sales in general, is the cost of ebook readers. Although they are far cheaper than they once were, they are still beyond the reach of everyone. The current entry price of around $100 might seem small to many, but in the age of austerity large numbers of people find it increasingly hard to get by. For them and countless others the current cost is prohibitive. Maybe, though, as with cell phones, the time is coming when they will be free. Costs could be covered by book sales and advertising. They could be given away to anyone purchasing, say, 10 or more ebooks over, for example, a month period. And if advertising starts being placed within books, even downloading free books could count as a purchase.
As Google, Facebook, Twitter and no doubt many other internet companies have shown, you don’t have to charge for every aspect of what you supply to make a profit. With ebooks spreading their reach month on month, perhaps these too will pay their way without the need of a cover price? However, to make that happen they have to be universally available. I would bet that Amazon are already considering this option, and if so maybe sooner than we think Kindles will be as commonplace as cell phones, ebook authors will proliferate beyond counting, and books, like television shows, will sink or swim on advertising revenues. Maybe the time has already come when free Kindles are almost inevitable?