It’s a widely debated issue, I’ve learned. How much are readers willing to pay for a book?
There doesn’t seem to be a solid answer, though there are trends. Popular books or books by popular authors generally cost more. Ebooks tend to be cheaper than the physical thing. The Bible is the most stolen book on the planet. I’ll leave you to decipher the meaning in that last one.
Obviously, it comes down to reader preference. I generally don’t have a problem paying ten to fifteen dollars for a book by an author I love, especially if it’s part of a series. But such an event is rare. I’m usually more in the five to eight dollar range. If it’s a self-published book, I usually pay around three bucks. There are many books on Amazon that go for a dollar.
Have you ever really thought about that?
A box of Girl Scout cookies is four bucks. A grande Starbucks is approximately the same price. So I could get four books on Amazon, which would take several hours to read, for the same price as a sweetened coffee drink I’ll finish in about ten minutes. Hours of entertainment for the same price as a hint of pre-diabetes.
Does this mean literature is undervalued?
Chuck Wendig recently wrote a post about the value of ebooks (there’s language, so don’t click over if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing). He suggests that maybe we should consider the value of the story, as if such a thing can be done. People visit libraries and can potentially read incessantly for free (other than whatever they pay in taxes), and my library is busy 100% of the time. Friends share books without a second thought because they loved a story and want to share the experience. I can’t think of anything that is shared as easily as a book.
Undervalued? Certainly not. Underpriced? Perhaps.
It takes hundreds to thousands of hours to write, edit, rewrite, recruit beta readers, rewrite, query, wait, drink, wait, get rejected a few dozen times, and maybe, finally, find a place with an agent or publisher. Even if an author self-publishes, there’s still all the writing, editing, cover design, etc. involved. Writing a book is a lot of work. That’s why I’m usually game for paying at least as much for one as I would pay for a sandwich.
What do you think? How much do you normally pay for a book?