×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Crime Writer Makes a Killing With 99 Cent E-Books

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the let's-all-draw-demand-curves-for-a-while dept.

Books 445

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Joe Konrath has an interesting interview with independent writer John Locke who currently holds the coveted #1 spot in the Amazon Top 100 and has sold just over 350,000 downloads on Kindle of his 99 cent books since January 1st of this year, which, with a royalty rate of 35%, is an annual income well over $500k. Locke says that 99 cents is the magic number and adds that when he lowered the price of his book The List from $2.99 to 99 cents, he started selling 20 times as many copies — about 800 a day, turning his loss lead into his biggest earner. 'These days the buying public looks at a $9.95 eBook and pauses. It's not an automatic sale,' says Locke. 'And the reason it's not is because the buyer knows when an eBook is priced ten times higher than it has to be. And so the buyer pauses. And it is in this pause—this golden, sweet-scented pause—that we independent authors gain the advantage, because we offer incredible value.' Kevin Kelly predicts that within 5 years all digital books will cost 99 cents. 'I don't think publishers are ready for how low book prices will go,' writes Kelly. 'It seems insane, dangerous, life threatening, but inevitable.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

445 comments

and so society dies out (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428562)

The race has already reached the bottom. Capitalism has reached its pathological limit: selling low priced crap to as many people as possible.

The way out is socialism. Readers will disagree because they're still on the winning end of having shafted their fellow man. But there's only so much people will take.

Re:and so society dies out (3)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428606)

The race has already reached the bottom. Capitalism has reached its pathological limit: selling low priced crap to as many people as possible.

The way out is socialism. Readers will disagree because they're still on the winning end of having shafted their fellow man. But there's only so much people will take.

Let me understand this: if a book is sold at $0.99 that's capitalism, but if the same book is sold at $9.95 that's socialism?

Your point is that socialism is selling high priced crap?

Re:and so society dies out (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428800)

Well.. consider for a moment what is 'more social':

Situation A: A single person - the author - becomes a semi-millionaire.

Situation B: A multitude of people - the author, the people working at the publisher, the people working at the printing press, the people working in distribution, and so forth and so on - receive a reasonable, but not stellar, income.

The pricing in itself is not the mechanism, of course - but it is the catalyst.

As the author points out, soon every book will be about $1. That's great, but are people going to buy 10 times as many books as a result? There's still limited time to actually read those books, which is generally the real barrier (do I think this book will be rewarding enough in the time that I need to read it?) the price is secondary to that, but obviously if there's two reasonably comparable products, the cheaper one would win. So let's say optimistically that 5 times as many books would be sold. A mediocre writer (of which there are plenty) that could still make a living on $10/book is now forced to compete with great authors (of which there are few) that are selling at $1/book. If people can have a great book for $1, then why purchase a mediocre one at $10? But even if the mediocre author lowered his price to $1, why buy a mediocre book for $1 when you can have a great one for $1?

Although I don't think it'll be quite such a killer to the industry as far as non-stellar authors goes (plenty of people still read novellas as it is), there's certainly a potential for consequence that will separate the wheat from the chaff - but what do we, as a society, do with that chaff?

The common answer is "Not my problem". But isn't it?

Re:and so society dies out (3, Insightful)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428858)

No. I don't have to buy your inferior product. Neither does the rest of society. If your income depends on your skills at a certain task, like writing in this instance, you need to do a good job in order to make money. If you can't, that's what not being a writer is for.

Re:and so society dies out (1, Flamebait)

Illicon (1588477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428942)

This, to me, is the essence of socialism: A deep desire to stifle technological advancement so that the people who cannot or will not keep up can have an income that they normally could not have.

It may sound insensitive to touchy-feely types, but if they are obsolete, they must adapt. To encourage them otherwise, in any way, is a subtle, but in my opinion much more sinister type of oppression.

Re:and so society dies out (2)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428948)

There's still limited time to actually read those books, which is generally the real barrier (do I think this book will be rewarding enough in the time that I need to read it?)

That barrier goes away when the price is low enough. People like free or cheap stuff. Most people will take virtually anything they think they might have a use for if it's free (provided they don't perceive it as nothing more than junk or trash.) Heck, if they still have it in 5 years and still haven't used it, they can throw it away so it stops taking up space. After all, they got it for free, right?

The same thought process is basically what happens when you price something digital at 99 cents these days. It's low enough that people perceive it as costing basically nothing, or in other words "practically free". So they'll buy it on a whim, whether they think they'll have time to read it or not. After all, they have room for thousands of ebooks on their reader, and 5 years down the road, if they haven't read it and need the space, they'll delete it without a second thought.

So yes, it's entirely likely that most people will buy more ebooks than they'll ever have time to read, if they're priced low enough and convenient enough to find and get.

If that's the definition of "society", so be it. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428984)

Situation B: A multitude of people - the author, the people working at the publisher, the people working at the printing press, the people working in distribution, and so forth and so on - receive a reasonable, but not stellar, income. [...] there's certainly a potential for consequence that will separate the wheat from the chaff - but what do we, as a society, do with that chaff? The common answer is "Not my problem". But isn't it?

No, as a matter of fact it is not my duty to support pointless middlemen that increase the overall price. It is also not my fault that they are not providing value. It is refreshing to consider a possible future where leeches on a process would be recognized and removed.

Allow me to spin your philosophy around on its head: if the author is creating the value (ie. the book), then why do these unrelated third parties deserve to extract money from the author's efforts? Fortunately, socialist insanity like yours didn't reach a fever pitch in the USA until after many of our institutions were in place. Otherwise, we would still be paying a 37% surtax on all new car purchases in order to "offset the harm" that automobiles were doing to the buggy whip industry. I mean, it's either that or "thus society dies", right?

...oh, wait, that's right, society survived just fine without them. As a matter of fact, systems perform better without parasitic loads. So, not only did society survive, but it is healthier without the buggy whip manufacturers. These dead-tree process middlemen need to evolve.

Re:and so society dies out (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428634)

Typical idiot on Slashloser, finding any reason to plug socialism. Slashdot i full of subservient retards.

Re:and so society dies out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428700)

Socialism is worker control of, hence responsibility for, the means of production.

Capitalism involves a large underclass of "subservient retards", many of whom have been conditioned to find every excuse possible not to break free from their chains. So much easier to receive your orders, collect your pittance and exchange for shiny toys, isn't it? The wealth ends up in the hands of the same people who also exploited your labour.

Today you're pathetic and you'll amount to nothing, whether you're living on the bread line or have your nice house, yard and 2.4 children. Don't you want to be more than that?

Re:and so society dies out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428760)

Don't you want everyone else to be pathetic and amount to nothing, living on the bread line too?

FTFY.

The problem with worker control of / responsibility for the means of production is that it has been proven over and over that they're terrible at it. They lack foresight and they mismanage resources.

Re:and so society dies out (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428808)

I like the idea of socialism... I like the idea of communism even better. But here's the problem. Every attempt in the history of man kind to achieve these noble states have resulted in a shift of power "from the elite business class" to "the elite government class" which results in even MORE abuse of the people than existed previously.

If I am wrong, please show me where in the world this idea has actually worked?

The problem is that this goes beyond man's nature to want to control everything for himself and is reluctant to trust or release control to anyone or anything else. Given that fact, it's clear the best answer is strong democratic government with term limits and a well regulated economic system which controls and limits what business can do.

Hrm... this is almost what we have here in the U.S. of A... problem here is that business is still too powerful.

Re:and so society dies out (1)

The Grassy Knoll (112931) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428862)

I like the idea of socialism... I like the idea of communism

But which one's better? There's only one way to find out.... FIIIIIIGHT! .

Re:and so society dies out (1)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429000)

I like the idea of capitalism. I like the idea of Corpratism even better. But, here's the problem. Every attempt in the history of mankind to achieve these noble states has resulted in a shift of power from "the people" to "the company" and then to "the Board", which results in even MORE abuse of the people than existed previously.

Scary how well that works, isn't it? Pretty much along the lines of "democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others". The bottom line is the problem isn't our societal, social, or financial structures. It is, quite simply, people. You can't count on a random human actually acting like a human being. Or caring 1 wit about his fellow men (her/women). While people are capable of such compasion, it can not be expected. Further, capitalism and corporatism (fascism if you ask Mussolini) put finacial incentives on all the wrong stuff. Even worse, they NEVER EVER put a human being first. PROFIT is first, all else can come begging on it's knees. Yeah, well, "More than that"? I'd like to live in a world where people take care of each other, our government is actually there for the people, and the corporations are the lap dogs. I know, fat chance.

Re:and so society dies out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428830)

Most of whom can spell, unlike you.

Re:and so society dies out (2)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428664)

reminds me of when i first came to the US, parents had no money and my dad would say if you want to see a movie then think very hard about it to make sure you will like it since it's so expensive. same with buying a $25 book. with a $.99 you aren't going to think so hard about it since it costs less than coffee

Re:and so society dies out (1)

anegg (1390659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428968)

The race has already reached the bottom. Capitalism has reached its pathological limit: selling low priced crap to as many people as possible.

The way out is socialism. Readers will disagree because they're still on the winning end of having shafted their fellow man. But there's only so much people will take.

In order to make this statement, wouldn't one have had to have read the book in question to determine that it is low-priced crap? Another analysis would be that by providing a market with a low barrier to entry via Amazon, people who are practicing an art because they enjoy it (story telling, music. etc.) are able to make money, too. And because they love what they do, they can provide a quality product at a low price per item, because the reproduction costs are practically nil for them.

Before the book and recording industries got rolling (yes, I realize they got started quite a few years apart), minstrels traveled around telling stories and singing songs. They didn't get rich doing it, but they presumably liked what they were doing well enough. Once mass-market capabilities came about, the actual story or song creator was marginalized while the producer became king. The publishing houses and recording industry folks held the reins because they controlled the market. New technologies have altered that balance of power. Now, as long as a market like Amazon exists, the original artists can communicate directly with the market. I don't understand how this can't be a good thing. It is capitalism at its finest.

The capitalism denigrated in the quote above is the capitalism that has the few abusing the many to profit. That isn't the only face possible for capitalism to wear, any more than socialism is completely represented by the Soviet Union and Soviet-block countries of the last millennium.

Math fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428564)

>>> has sold just over 350,000 downloads on Kindle of his 99 cent books since January 1st of this year, which, with a royalty rate of 35%, is an annual income well over $500k

Erm.... That doesn't seem right

Re:Math fail? (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428586)

I suspect this part explains it:

turning his loss lead into his biggest earner.

It's selling more copies than his other books.

[John]

Re:Math fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428596)

Oh, I thought we were 1/3 of the way through the year. It's MY math fail, not the article. Bah

Re:Math fail? (3, Informative)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428598)

350k for Jan - Mar or 3 months. times 4 = 1.4M * 0.35 = 490k but of course March is only half way, so round up.

Re:Math fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428616)

Here's a hint: It's March. He started in January, and so the year will end in December...

Re:Math fail? (1)

Broolucks (1978922) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428624)

That's what I thought at first but that's 350k in three months. Still amounts to "only" $485k a year, though, so I figure they didn't do the actual math.

Re:Math fail? (1)

anegg (1390659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429008)

That's what I thought at first but that's 350k in three months. Still amounts to "only" $485k a year, though, so I figure they didn't do the actual math.

Its obviously "GRE math" - you are allowed to estimate and round.

Re:Math fail? (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428684)

>>> has sold just over 350,000 downloads on Kindle of his 99 cent books since January 1st of this year, which, with a royalty rate of 35%, is an annual income well over $500k

Erm.... That doesn't seem right

Part of that is the old printed way of selling books would mean:

99 cents retail
33 cents to retailer
33 cents (roughly half of wholesale price) cost of printing
33 cents to publisher

Of the 33 cents to the publisher, on a good day an exceptional author might get a bit over 10% royalties. More likely we'll round down to 3 cents per copy.

So at 35% royalty at Amazon to make 1/2 mil he had to sell about 1.4 million copies total.

Given that he made about half a mill selling at Amazon, how much would he have made from a conventional publisher? Well. 1.4 million times 3 cents each, eh about 43 grand.

Hmm 500 grand at amazon vs 43 grand at a conventional publisher (if paperback books could somehow be sold in that business model at 99 cents a piece) Thats the part that probably doesn't seem right to you.

Re:Math fail? (1)

Illicon (1588477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428978)

(350K * $0.99) * 0.35 = $121,275 That was made in a little over two months. How does that not add up to more than $500K annually?

Way too high (2)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428566)

Considering the limitations of Electronic Books; can't give them to friends or family to read, can't resell them, can't return them, can have them pulled without notice, the price is way too high.

I've purchased a few novels at the too high price since I got my iPad but so far only the ones I already have in paperback and really love to read. I have picked up a few 99 cent books at recommendation from others and generally they're an ok read.

I've spent a lot more on gaming PDFs, especially the non-watermarked DRM'd ones (Shadowrun from the Battlecorps website).

[John]

Re:Way too high (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428876)

If every book was 99 cents it would hardly be a big deal. You could buy the book for friends and family and it could still end up cheaper than what you pay already.

Seriously, 99 cents is "too high" because you can't resell or return the book? Who would need to buy a "used" copy if books were that cheap anyway? That's cheaper than most current used books already!

And why would you need to return an eBook - it's hardly going to be defective, and if the download was in fact corrupted, they would push it out to your reader again on request. You can't return a book simply because you "didn't like it" - or at least I'm hoping you can't. You can't get your money back at a theater if you didn't like the movie, or get a refund of your cable service because there were no good movies on on a certain day. You pays your money, you takes your chances. At 99c it's hardly a big deal, especially if you also base your purchases on recommendations from people who have similar tastes.

Pulling books without notice would be a big deal to me. I'd expect it of Apple of course, but not so much of Amazon. And if Amazon did do such a thing they'd probably provide a refund, their customer service has always been excellent in my book.. no pun intended.

Re:Way too high (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428920)

Considering the limitations of Electronic Books; can't give them to friends or family to read

At least on the nook, you are able to lend books to other people. There are whole forums dedicated to lending ebooks.

And if it's a family member, you can just share a single B&N account and have full access to the library without even having to lend anything.

can't resell them

This! This is the single biggest problem with ebooks. I'd love to be able to re-sell some of my ebooks after I'm done with them.

can have them pulled without notice

Depends on the format and the delivery mechanism. If you've bought your book through Amazon with their Kindle, yeah, they can pull it off your device. But if you buy it in a standard format like .epub from one of the many ebook stores on-line, it's just a file sitting on a device, and nobody can delete it. Well, I guess they could do a complete remote wipe... But you could always throw a backup copy back on the device.

the price is way too high

Depends on what you're buying, and where.

Depending on the title, I don't mind paying $10 for an ebook. Yeah, part of me thinks that it ought to be cheaper because there's no paper involved... But you've still got the cost of the editors and agents and authors and whatnot... So it isn't like all that expense just disappears because there's no paper involved.

But I've also downloaded metric craptons of free ebooks from various sites. Usually they're public domain stuff like Sherlock Holmes and Poe and Lovecraft... But you'd still wind up paying cash for a paper copy, just because of the cost to actually put it on paper.

And then you've got authors like Peter Watts [wikipedia.org] who are making brand new ebooks available for free.

And B&N has a free ebook every Friday. Lately they've been pretty crappy things not even worth the bandwidth it'd take to download them... But They've also had some decent stuff for free.

And even when I'm paying full price for an ebook, they aren't all priced at $10. B&N has a huge selection of ebooks for under $5 - which is cheaper than most paperbacks these days. And there are plenty of other websites out there that'll sell you ebooks for less than $10. Sometimes significantly less.

It's also because of the Lost (-1)

Yuioup (452151) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428570)

I'm sure his name (John Locke) helped sales a bit. I wonder if the t.v. show producers get a cut.

Re:It's also because of the Lost (5, Informative)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428632)

You hear the name John Locke and you think of some TV show? Seriously?? Not the philosopher considered the founder of Liberalism, nor his theories of continuous consciousness or tabula rasa?

Our educational system has truly failed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Locke [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's also because of the Lost (3, Insightful)

Broolucks (1978922) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428796)

Well, if you watched the show, you would likely have had more exposure to John Locke the character than you ever had to John Locke the philosopher, which will change what you think of first when you see the name. When I see "John Locke", the character pops to mind, then the philosopher a second later, at which point I beat myself up for letting TV shuffle my associative memory around :(

If the name had anything to do with popularity, I'd wager the TV show is to thank. Nobody cares about philosophy, unfortunately.

Re:It's also because of the Lost (1, Insightful)

silentace (992647) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428922)

So your mentality is that if the average person doesn't know a bunch of random historical characters then our education system is messed up? I believe you sir are the fail in this situation. I guess you haven't heard of people that don't enjoy/care about history.

Re:It's also because of the Lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428950)

Oh please. I'm tired of people like you thinking people are stupid because they don't remember some relatively unimportant (to them) fact from long ago. Yeah, I remember learning about Locke in school. That was many many many years ago. I learned it, probably had to remember it for a few weeks until the test (or maybe the final exam), and then the knowledge gradually faded from my mind. More than a decade passes and the knowledge of Locke has served me no real purpose in life, and it's been buried so deep in my brain that even when a TV show has a character named Locke, it doesn't trigger my memory. Then I watch the 121 episodes over a period of 6 years (not counting the ones I watched multiple times). That's some real reinforcement into memory. So then less than 1 year later the name comes up, and you expect the first thing that comes to mind is not the reference I've heard hundreds and hundreds of times over the last 7 years, but rather the reference I heard a few times 15 years ago and then not at all since?

If our education system has failed at something, it has been in teaching people critical thinking...useful for figuring out why somebody might think differently than you.

P.S. I'm not the OP you replied to, but I made the same association as him upon hearing the name.

Re:It's also because of the Lost (3, Funny)

James_Duncan8181 (588316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428668)

"I'm sure his name (John Locke) helped sales a bit. I wonder if the t.v. show producers get a cut."

I laughed, then realised I wasn't entirely sure this comment is satire.

Re:It's also because of the Lost (1)

Zembar (803935) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428768)

If he called himself Harry S Truman you'd wonder if the people behind Twin Peaks got a cut, right?

Re:It's also because of the Lost (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428820)

I'm sure his name (John Locke) helped sales a bit. I wonder if the t.v. show producers get a cut.

I don't think TV viewers, in general, read. Reading is not part of the "sports bar" and "reality tv" mindset.

A philosophy student whom downloads his little crime drama thinking its a study guide or cliffs notes for "Treatise on Civil Government" is going to be mighty confused at test taking time.

I TOLD you. (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428574)

not only i told you, but many other people told this as well :

digital goods are easily distributable. make it something cheap that noone will hesitate to pay for, and A LOT of people will buy it - even people who think 'hey i may read/use this in future' may buy it if its 99 cents. same goes for games. a lot of people will buy games that they will never play, just to have them handy, or in their collection, or to have a more complete game arsenal. a lot of people will buy your software if its cheap, just to have it handy if they ever need it to do anything at some random point in time in future.

there is nothing barring you from doing that. the bandwidth costs are low, they are going down and down continually. you dont have to reproduce a digital good. all you need is :

- an easy to use website to buy from, and a short, easy checkout procedure
- a payment provider that is easy to use. (or a reliable credit card payment method)
- a digital download.

its THAT simple. no really, it is THAT simple. and the example is, in the article above.

Re:I TOLD you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428740)

i second that - especially the games section, because i tt found myself buying some games from the steam-store when they were really cheap just to have them or complete a collection

Re:I TOLD you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428756)

So very very very true.
I pirated aoe3 years ago and played till sick of it. I still bought 3 copies when it went on sale for 99cents. anything for 99cents is pretty irresistible just to collect it. The next step is minimizing the amount of steps it takes to pay for something on most sites.

Re:I TOLD you. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428770)

make it something cheap that noone will hesitate to pay for, and A LOT of people will buy it

Would I steal something that "costs" $100? How about $1? Thats pretty much free. Less that two vending machine soda cans. I'm guessing the dollar store has a lot less shoplifting than "upscale" Target or Kohls.

I think intellectually the marketing people don't understand that when I pay $10 or more I'm thinking "own a book". Even if its digital thus I do not own it. But at $1 I'm thinking thats like a delivery charge or a tax to make it magically download itself into my kindle ipad app and its the fee for this nifty searchable website I found the book on.

Another think the marketing team (other than amazon) does not understand is I'm willing to "tip" an author thirty cents for his performance, but maybe not tip a paper publisher ten bucks. Would I give a street musician a buck if he was any good? Sure, have many times. Would I give $100 for a hardbound textbook err I mean a street performer? Heck no.

Re:I TOLD you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428906)

Well music and movies haven't gone down in the last 10 years, so I wouldn't hold my breath.
Renting a move from Redbox, in a store, on a physical dvd, is only $1, yet to rent a new release online, it's $4 or $5.

Re:I TOLD you. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428946)

The question is whether it is just because he's one 99 cent man in a 9.99$ world or if it works just as well if the prediction comes through that all books will be 99 cents. It's highly unlikely that people on average would spend significantly more time reading books in their limited spare time and with so many other forms of education and entertainment.

That Angry Birds makes a killing at 99 cent is good for them, but it only works because they grab such a big piece of the market. On average I don't think the few extra games you buy make up for the dollar/hour burn rate going way, way down into the cents. I'm happy if a 50$ game gives me 50 hours of gameplay, that's 1$/hour. I'm not sure how many hours I've played Angry Birds but it's way lower than that. Even if you add the five games I bought and got tired of after 10 minutes to that it's still not even close to that.

Re:I TOLD you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428954)

This is a brilliant move on the authors part, it separates him from the pack and highlights his name at the top-seller list.

Unfortunatly, it will not work if everyone starts selling at that pricepoint. No matter how cheap books or ebooks get, there is a certain limit to how many of them I want. I might be spending 2-300 dollars to get 5-10 books now, but I will never spend 300 dollars buying 300 books per year. Most likely, I will continue to buy 5-10 books annually and waste the remaining 290 dollars on beer.

What's in a name? (1)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428576)

I'd imagine his name might have had a small amount of impact on his popularity.

Re:What's in a name? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428834)

I'd imagine his name might have had a small amount of impact on his popularity.

Yeah.. he certainly has a nice sounding name. I'm sure i've heard of that author, and I haven't even been browsing Amazon...

Specifically i'm sure i've heard of this of his eBooks [amazon.com] before.

$500k? (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428580)

Okay, maybe my math is wrong but how is (350000 * 0.99 * 0.35) > 500000?

Re:$500k? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428600)

Because he sold them since the first of January. so:

350000 * 0.99 * 0.35 * 6 = 727650

Re:$500k? (1)

radicalpi (1407259) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428630)

I don't know if they're trying to state the annual income, assuming the sale trend continues, or they just fail at math. It seems too obvious a mistake to be the latter, but more blatant miscalculations have been made.

Re:$500k? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428644)

You're right. It's "only" $121275, but that's since January 1 of this year -- only 2+ months! It's obviously debatable whether that sales rate will be sustained (unlikely), but even if the sales dwindle to, say, 10% of that rate for the rest of the year, that's ~$6000/month.

Re:$500k? (2)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428680)

It is wrong, it's 350 000 from January 1st to today, not for a 12 month period.

So it's 350 000 in 67 days or 5224 per day, so 1 906 716 per year

1 905 716 * 0.99 *0.35 = 660 677$

Re:$500k? (1)

asylumx (881307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428934)

an annual income well over $500k

$660,677 is well over $500,000 How are they wrong?

Re:$500k? (1)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429012)

I never said that the article was wrong, I was answering the parent poster who said "maybe my math is wrong".

Re:$500k? (1, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428732)

I've read about this guy in the Economist.

Basically he started selling his book at $2.99, dropped it to 99 cents when it started sliding to the bottom of the Best selling chart, raised it to $2.99 when it peaked, dropped it to 99 when it moved to the bottom, and repeat.

So his total earnings are a combination of 0.99 and 2.99 mixed together, as he played with the price to maximize his profits. He's a very good businessman.

Re:$500k? (-1, Troll)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428752)

commodore64

Basically he started selling his book at $2.99, dropped it to 99 cents when it started sliding to the bottom of the Best selling chart, raised it to $2.99 when it peaked, dropped it to 99 when it moved to the bottom, and repeat. So his total earnings are a combination of 0.99 and 2.99 mixed together,

Hey Commode.
Stop making-up shit.
Nobody wants your sewer droppings here.

does not compute (-1, Redundant)

stewbee (1019450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428582)

now I know it's early in the morning, and I haven't had my coffee yet, but how does selling 350K at $0.99 and 35% royalties = $500k? I could see 350k*.35 = $122k, which is still nice.

btw....first post?

Re:does not compute (2)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428614)

That's $122K since January 1st, just ten weeks ago. If he were to keep up sales to that extent for a year, his annual income is indeed over half a million dollars.

Re:does not compute (1)

stewbee (1019450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428880)

Ahh... I missed the operative word 'annual'. Should teach me to post before caffeinated.

Re:does not compute (1)

Chris Kaczor (727484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428618)

The 350000 books have been sold "since January 1st of this year" - so if they keep selling at that rate for the rest of the year......

Re:does not compute (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428666)

now I know it's early in the morning, and I haven't had my coffee yet, but how does selling 350K at $0.99 and 35% royalties = $500k? I could see 350k*.35 = $122k, which is still nice.

Fail.

btw....first post?

Fail number two. One more and you're out!

Just like the music industry (4, Insightful)

Scutter (18425) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428604)

Just like the music industry, the electronic distribution of books has the publishers running scared. Writers are finally waking up to the fact that without the need to actually print books, they have no need of monolithic publishing houses whatsoever. They can self-publish with little to no overhead and keep the profits for themselves. $9.95 (or more, oftentimes) is an abso-friggin-lutely ridiculous price to charge for an e-book.

Re:Just like the music industry (1)

john83 (923470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428818)

All the more so as the modern publishing industry is often rather lax in proof-reading standards, making the one lasting use for them rather less important than it might otherwise be.

Re:Just like the music industry (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428848)

Unfortunately for many artists, unlike authors, it's too difficult to create and sell a song on their own. They need a producer, engineer(s), backing musicians, just to name a few. Even more than that if they want to tour.

Re:Just like the music industry (4, Insightful)

Carik (205890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428928)

Writers are finally waking up to the fact that without the need to actually print books, they have no need of monolithic publishing houses whatsoever.

Not entirely true. The publishing houses don't just provide printing and distribution, they provide editing, publicity, a route into brick-and-mortar retail locations, and often money to live off while an author is writing. Those are all important things.

I'm not saying there's no way around them -- for instance, many authors still work a day job anyway, and there are good free-lance editors available for hire -- but they're a good "one stop" way to get them.

Re:Just like the music industry (1)

jbssm (961115) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428938)

I think you are making a mistake here. Now-a-days the power in the book industry it's not in the hands of the publishing houses, but in the hands of the distributors: Amazon, Barns & Noble, etc. These are the predators of the business and the ones bullying publishing houses and the writers with them.

Art quality cannot be measured in sale numbers. If the business model becomes: write some mediocre crap about vampires full of clichés that every teenager will read and sell it at .99$ for profit, we would stop having writers like José Saramago, Vargas Llosa, Orwell, Huxley, Edgar Alan Poe, etc.

Re:Just like the music industry (1)

NiteShaed (315799) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428956)

Writers are finally waking up to the fact that without the need to actually print books, they have no need of monolithic publishing houses whatsoever.

Well, sort of. I kind of hope that it does work out that way though.

Right now I'm working on my own novel (release in another couple of months, yay!). I'm doing it myself through a POD company, and it will be both print and digital. Doing it that way allows me to keep a much higher part of the sales (which I expect to be in the tens of copies), and more importantly, actually allows me to see it go to print as it's pretty damn difficult to get a publisher to even look at a book from an unknown author with no prior sales record.
The downsides:
A) It's much harder to be taken seriously with a book that's self published. Publishers bring legitimacy to a book, people assume that it's going to be better if it's been vetted by a publisher (and let's be honest, they're probably right most of the time).
B) Other authors will generally consider you to be "outside the club" unless you've racked up the kinds of sales that they themselves often don't see through a traditional publisher. Even then, often you're not one of them. I know this last part from reading various authors forums, not because I try to walk up to people like Neil Gaiman and say "Hey, I'm an author too!".

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the long run. Personally, I think self-publishing will gain more legitimacy, but self-published authors have to make sure the quality of their work is up there with the stuff coming out of the publishing houses (and yes, I know there's a ton of complete garbage with an impressive imprint on its spine). Self publishing allows anyone who thinks they can write to "be an author", and most of them really just aren't that good. It also allows people to push things out (print or digital) that desperately need a real editor, making a potentially good book seem amateurish because of errors or layout problems.

By the way, I also completely agree with the insanity of charging $9.95 for an ebook. I haven't settled on pricing for my book yet, but I know I'm thinking significantly lower than the print copy. 99 cents? I dunno, that seems exceptionally low, but I wouldn't rule it out. Generally I'm happy paying somewhere in the $3 - $5 range for an ebook, but maybe I'm the exception (TFA certainly seems to imply that).

Re:Just like the music industry (1)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429026)

I'd say there's significant value in professional-level editing. One of the last "books" I read was self-published directly to the web, and while it was good fun and had an interesting premise, it was in dire need of editing/revision. Community input can only do so much.

Of course, just needing editing and maybe a little promotion cuts out a huge chunk of the existing book publishing business. Not to mention retailers.

(If anyone's curious, the novel I mentioned above is The Salvation War [stardestroyer.net]. The writer is a military geek, which can be interesting or a bit cheesy sometimes.)

Can't help but note the incongruity... (1)

dominique_cimafranca (978645) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428642)

...how we're talking about an e-book writer today making a fair bundle, and just a few Slashdot articles earlier, we learned that the creator of Trumpet Winsock made very little money from his creation [slashdot.org] twenty years ago.

Re:Can't help but note the incongruity... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428722)

It's all about "friction".

Back when Trumpet Winsock was asking for money, I had to write a cheque, address an envelope, find a stamp, etc.

Now that I likely have already found the eBook via some iTunes/Kindle/etc. device that has billing built in, the payment has lower "friction" so is more likely to be made. While I might be able to find it by other (read: pirated) means, that would take more work, and I'd rather spend $0.99.

VAT Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428654)

Because i Live in finland, and amazon sees fit to add some kind of VAT to ebooks, all these 99 cent books appear magically as 3 dollar books. what's the deal with that?

Ebooks vs Paperbacks (4, Insightful)

shoemakc (448730) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428658)

Why would anyone pay $9.95 for an Ebook when your average paperback novel costs the same (or less) at a brick + mortar store? I think the issue is that retailers still see Ebooks as an "upgrade" over a standard paperback, and prices them accordingly. While Ebooks certainly do have many advantages over a paperback, I think people realize that since printing and distribution costs of Ebooks are basicaly zero and should be reflected in a lower price.

Re:Ebooks vs Paperbacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428726)

The BIG BIG difference here is that any budding author can publish the book themselves. They can cut the publishing houses out of the loop entirely.

A friend of mine has done this with a dead tree book. He uses Amazon's Print on Demand service. I think it has made him a little money.

Now going forward to the electronic era:-
I have a story that has been rejected by pretty well every publisher around. Ok, I accept that my theme is not exactly mainstream.
Now I can really start to think seriously about having it published ONLY in electronic form. If I were to price it at ay $0.99 a time then $0.66 is a darn sight better than nothing at all isn't it.
The more I think about it the big publishing houses seem to be more like the record labels every day. Doomed...

Re:Ebooks vs Paperbacks (1)

SpinningCone (1278698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428764)

i think its both greed and a catch 22. 9.95 is bout right for a book at a bookstore. so since its the same product the ebook goes for the same price.

logic would say that the cost of distribution is lower so the ebook would be lower.(in reality printing has been pretty cheap anyway so that's not a big deal)

so you lower the ebook to match peoples perceived value (it's the same price i could own something tangible), then people buy more ebooks, but the paperbacks suffer because the ebook is so much cheaper ("its half price online, why buy the book"). then as paperbacks go away our acclamation to higher prices of the physical product goes with it. mostly it seems to be a game of artificially inflating value. these damm small time writers and their 99 cent bullshit are messin up all their hard work and profitessss :-p

Seems reasonable enough, in some cases... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428688)

The Econ101 theory of product pricing has always been "Pick the point on the demand curve where unit profit*units sold is the largest possible number(unless that number is always negative, or is never higher than fixed costs, in which case GTFO).

The trick, of course, is locating the price that puts you on that part of the demand curve... I suspect that, for behavioral economics reasons, there are probably weird little discontinuities(ie. 99 cents is an impulse buy, while $1.21 'feels' more significant, even though you might not pick up the difference between the two if you saw those coins scattered on the side of the road...); but, given that the cost of production of a ebook is dominated by the fixed cost of writing the thing, and getting it in some semblance of acceptably typeset order, I suspect that there is a lot to be said for the "stack 'em deep, sell 'em cheap" model.

This does not apply, of course, to low-readership specialty stuff; because you can be assured that you'll never sell more than a smallish number of copies no matter how cheap it is(as with specialist academic texts), nor does it apply to books that can command higher prices because of celebrity authorship or some sort of necessity(ie. Steven King's N+1th book, or a textbook)

Re:Seems reasonable enough, in some cases... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428936)

irrelevant.

all the economic theories and their founding principles stem from 18th century. they perceive and keep the basis of that reality.

the fact that someone sitting on its ass in a living room would be able to buy something for a dime and have it delivered instantly to its own living room with almost nonexistent cost, was never a reality at any point in time up till this decade.

econ 101, 102, do not apply anymore. many of the people who are buying that book, actually are not even demanding that book - they are buying it for 'just in case', because its cheap enough to not even care about its cost.

Re:Seems reasonable enough, in some cases... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429038)

You have no idea what you are talking about. Luckily what you write is in little demand, so we can all hope that this comment supplies more then enough of your "insight".

babys et al; getting ready to meet our 'makers' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428704)

what a relief? as opposed to all that thou shalt not (live) crud. so, don't forget to plan (not easter, in case Jesus shows up that day) to attend any of our scheduled million baby+ play-dates, consciousness arisings, georgia stone editing(s) & a host of additional life promoting events. be there or be scared. there's some notion that there are those (mutants?) who would delay (alterations anyone?) our natural progression to the next stage of our development. so we'll just speed thins up a bit?

Meh (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428710)

Simple sales psychology. Place the price below the product's usual "pain threshold" and the casual buyer's willingness to shell out money will skyrocket.
It's the same reason commercial websites will sell more subscriptions if they lower their price from $15 to $9.99. The trick is to determine the sweet spot.

Is a linear extrapolation realistic? (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428744)

I seriously doubt that the book will sell in the same numbers for the next 10 months.

Could happen but it seems a little too optimistic.

Pulp fiction (1)

gig (78408) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428754)

Yeah, pulp fiction books need to be cheap. If I can buy a movie of a pulp fiction book for $10 then yes the book should be 99 cents.

Plus, a Kindle book is throwaway, just a printout with DRN. If you want to charge more, you have to build something more.

This eliminates poor people, Socialism etc. (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428778)

Combine this with "Buy Real Estate with No Money Down" and the read and green stock purchasing arrows software and all poverty will be removed! All we have to do to improve this is to consider Twitter/Facebook posts to be "books" and charge 99cents for each one and we'll all be rich!

chaussures air max ltd (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428826)

Mais, je n'ai pas chaussures air max ltd [nikeairmaxbwpascher.com] besoin d'acquérir plus d'une seule mise de premier cycle sur les chaussures de sport d'exploitation.
Donc, j'ai découvert la place de l'Nike Eclipse à mes chaussures de quartier bien connue reçois beaucoup de couleurs uniques pour obtenir du. i expérimentés été étonné de la façon dont ces chaussures ont été lumination, il peine senti comme j'ai vécu chaussures à tous.

Would buy an eReader -Today- (2)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428860)

I would go out and get an eReader _today_ if all books were 99 cents. At that price, I would purchase on impulse any time I finished a book. Don't like the book I just got? Get another one from another author. I could buy a few and sample until I find the set I wanna go with. Maybe a few books for different moods, etc.

The problem with books as entertainment right now is that they are an investment. Maybe that's not necessarily a bad thing, but I don't even really read as a hobby, it's more of a time killer in the car, at work, or in bed if I can't sleep. Charging me $9.99 for a book is basically telling me not to bother unless I "know" I'm going to like it (friends/family reviews).

But again, make eBooks 99 cents and the investment aspect is gone and people like me who just want to kill time with them will start purchasing them.

Is the record industry reading this? (1)

louic (1841824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35428884)

Not that I ever illegally download a discography, but if I did it would be because the price of buying music is just way too high.

OFFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35428900)

Why 99 cents instead of a dollar?

The Price Does Work, to a Certain Extent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35429002)

It's true that my book, The Righteous, is enjoying a lot of success as a 99 cent book (currently ranked about 300 out of 350,000+ titles), but my thinking is that this is to introduce people to my writing. I hope that after they enjoy a book purchased with little risk, they won't mind spending a very reasonable 3-4 dollars for one of my other books. I personally believe that the natural price of ebooks should be significantly less than DTBs, but when I'm spending 5-10 hours reading a book, I don't worry overly much if my cost per hour of reading is 20 cents or a dollar. I'd rather spend ten bucks reading a great book than 99 cents reading something mediocre.

Unlike chocolate, however, the price of a book does not correlate very well with its quality.

independance (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35429030)

These days the buying public looks at a $9.95 eBook and pauses. It's not an automatic sale,' says Locke. 'And the reason it's not is because the buyer knows when an eBook is priced ten times higher than it has to be. And so the buyer pauses. And it is in this pause—this golden, sweet-scented pause—that we independent authors gain the advantage, because we offer incredible value.' Kevin Kelly predicts that within 5 years all digital books will cost 99 cents. 'I don't think publishers are ready for how low book prices will go,' writes Kelly. 'It seems insane, dangerous, life threatening, but inevitable.

This, I think, is the key.

Authors today can self-publish very easily. B&N offers a service to publish ebooks, as do plenty of other places. You don't need to go to a big publishing company to get your work out there.

So all that overhead - all the editors and agents and PR folks and whatever else - is gone. Sure, you're paying something to the folks creating your ebook... But it's usually a fraction of what a big ol' publishing company would take.

So you can price your books lower, and get a bigger chunk of the profits, and actually come out ahead.

And the traditional publishing companies are going to have to compete against that. Not just for customers... But for authors, as well.

Electronic publishing and distribution has the potential to shake up the world of literature at least as much as the printing press did.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...