A panel of publishing price strategists converged at Digital Book World 2017 to discuss how pricing affects consumer behavior.
Peter Hildick-Smith, CEO of Codex Group, offered some insights that can be gleaned by acknowledging that for consumers, reading a book doesn’t always equate to buying a book, as consumers have a range of opportunities to read without paying for the material: they can visit a local public library, borrow a book from friends, or take advantage of a free download offer.
Readers also have many options to pay for books, while avoiding paying full price: they can buy used books, join subscription services, or even get their books as gifts.
Hildick-Smith presented a range of interesting market measurements concerning book-buying behavior. Among these statistics, the most eye-opening was that only about one third of the total number of books that are read are actually generating revenue for the author and publisher.
The research also revealed that pricing means different things to different people.
Among consumers’ favorite ways to get books for personal reading, 18 percent prefer to read for free, 26 percent claim that they never pay full price (for example, they purchase used books), 16 percent claim to prefer to purchase ebooks only, 18 percent declare that they “save when they can,” and 22 percent are impulse buyers, purchasing books they like as soon as they see them.
When it comes to how quickly they make purchase decisions, consumers who identify themselves as ebook buyers are the fastest to make sales conversions. The second-fastest decision makers are the see-it-get-it impulse buyers, followed by the “never pay full price” consumers.
The laggards on the speed-to-purchase scale are those consumers looking for a bargain. Different genres are purchased at different speeds. When it comes to impulse buying, more non-fiction titles are purchased on the spur of the moment than other genres.
Hildick-Smith concluded his presentation by advising publishers and authors to factor in the question, “Who do you want to buy your book?” when making pricing decisions for their titles. After all, even those who acquire a title for free could help influence increased sales.
Even though they don’t pay for your book, their word-of-mouth influence could generate awareness—and to perform another form of awareness-generating marketing could be more costly than offering your book for free.
Not all readers are buyers, but all readers can be valuable in other ways. Any reader, whether they paid for the book or not, can influence an author’s brand and encourage others to buy.
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