Price it Right

How much would you pay for a book?

Would you pay $9.99 for a 50-page devotional? How about $27.00 for a paperback Christian novel?

Price makes a difference.

Price a book too high and you will lose sales. Why should I buy this novel by an unknown author for $27.00 when I can buy one by a best-selling author for $14.99? Why would I buy a 50-page devotional for the same price that I can get a 100+ page devotional that holds twice as many devotions and will last me twice as long?

Price a book too low and you will also lose sales. If you sell a devotional book for $7.99 when most devotional books of the same length sell for $11.99, you may attract some bargain hunters, but many readers will be leery about why your book is so cheap when it is not on sale.

Pricing strategy is important. The retail chain store, J.C. Penney (JCP), recently changed management in an attempt to reinvent the chain and increase sales. The new management rolled out a new name (JCP) and pricing strategy. What they did was to get rid of sales. In the place of “sales” language they designed three pricing tiers:

  • Everyday – for best everyday value
  • Month Long Value – these are the current items that are actually on sale
  • Best Prices – these are clearance items

Guess what? The strategy backfired. The company has lost sales and money this year.

I helped contribute to JCP’s loss of sales. I like to shop at JCP. Recently, I went into a JCP store looking for a couple specific items. After browsing and not seeing any “sales” or “clearance” racks (I am a bargain hunter), I left and shopped at other stores. Later, I stopped back in JCP and realized that their prices were comparable to what I paid for the sales items I purchased at the other stores. However, because I was looking for the “sales” signs and did not see them, I went elsewhere.

A similar psychological phenomenon applies to books. Price a book too high or too low and customers will pass it up. Consumers know the standard book prices and they don’t stray too far from them except for a sale.

If a large retail chain like JCP is having difficulty changing its pricing strategy, as a small publisher or self-published author, you will surely miss out on sales if you don’t price your book right.

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