Saturday
Feb112012

Book Pricing versus Page Count

News Flash: The Kindle revolution has challenged the publishing industry to a boxing match. The decision is in; Kindle has won, leaving the old publishing model beaten and bloody, as Kindle claims the belt and watches book pricing drop to rock-bottom prices. Just within the past few years, people's perception of appropriate book pricing has tipped the scales in favor of the consumer, who is used to getting their wares for less than the price of a Happy Meal. Honestly, this isn't a news flash, and I'm not knocking this new wave mentality. With the onslaught of app stores offering portable music, eBooks and digital games that can be instantly bought and downloaded on the cellphone in your pocket, even I have fallen prey to price picking. Seldom will I buy a book or app above $2.99, and I often find myself picking through the $0.99 batch more often. But in the end, if I know I am going to get a quality Kindle book, I'll pay $10 bucks or more. Because to me, quality is king.

So, what sets the standard between a $0.99, $2.99 or a $9.99 Kindle book? I've done spilled the beans; quality is king, as I said. With that in mind, we won't be discussing books priced above $2.99, because if you look at the tags for any Kindle book priced at $9.99 or above, there has usually been someone who has added a tag such as "9.99 Boycott" or "Outrageous Kindle price". I personally think that's a result of the cheap Kindle book mentality. A good book is a good book is a good book, so I don't mind paying $9.99 for a digital book full of great content, especially if the print version is $14.99 or higher. If I can save even a few bucks by purchasing a didigal copy in lieu of its paper twin, I feel I've not only saved on print cost, but also helped save a few trees in the process. Yet others disagree and complain that a $20 dollar book should only be a buck in the Kindle store. Here's the problem in that thinking. Being an author is a real job, and for an author to take next to nothing for their work, they won't be able to make a living from their craft. This in turn will leave their fans in limbo, especially with price-shocked readers who keep tagging "boycott" on their product page, thus driving away the author's income base. Now some of you may say that authors like John Locke and Amanda Hocking have made millions of $0.99 books, and they'd be right. But only a handful of Kindle authors have reached that stage of success at this point.

I'm drifting, so let's get back to my original question and focus on the title of this blog. If we go with the flow of the new model for book pricing, and adjust our wallets to allow for payments under $4 to $5 bucks, then I'd have to say that the pricing should be based purely on the quality of the writing/story/information of the book and should have absolutely NOTHING to do with page count. Yet, readers will feel cheated if they pay $2.99 for a twenty page book when they can buy a 400-page novel for the same price. But in the end, did that 400-page novel provide more satisfaction than the twenty-pager? Well, in some cases, absolutely. Again, it depends on the quality of the story.

Sadly, it's become harder to find quality books on Kindle. Considering Amazon's KDP platform allows any and everyone to become an instant author, I've now bought more than my share of poorly written and edited books. So you can see how a reader can be left with a bad taste in their mouth even if they paid only $0.99 for an 800-page epic with 1,300-plus typos strewn throughout. I believe this is adding to the $0.99 versus $2.99 war that is brewing.

When my good friend, Daniel Middelton (owner of Scribe Freelance) and I decided to start our fiction publishing company, 711 Press, we swore that we would approach the KDP platform with a professional mindset; from day one we focused on quality writing while streamlining page counts to meet the pricing model currently dominating Kindle. What did this mean? To us, it meant that less truly was more. By studying the KDP model, we quickly adapted our approach to novel-writing and publishing to fit the fast-paced mentality of MTV-gen, techno-junkies by stripping our stories down to the bare bones, delivering raw action interspersed in engaging narrative and in-depth, plot-advancing dialogue. That's how we created our TV Book and Movie Book lines, which are episodic tales and short novellas, respectively, that tell an entire story in the same amount of time that it takes to watch a television show or movie.

I must admit, our first stab at this model for the book The Crisis Artifact by authors James LaFleur and Gordon Massie fell a bit short with the original version topping out at around 45,000 words, (and we still felt it was too long). We realized that a read-through of a 45,000-word novel took slightly longer to read than to watch an enjoyable movie. That's when the "less is more" attitude really kicked in. By studying our own reading patterns of various stories while timing ourselves, we created our novel-length/read time model. This model is represented on each Kindle Movie Book page, with a time listed to let the reader know how long it should take to read any particular 711 Press book. The only exception to our read-time listing is our TV Book line. All TV books should easily be read in thirty minutes or less. With the new read-time model in place, we decided that all our TV Books should fall between 5,000 - 5,500 words priced at $0.99, while our Movie Books should fall between 20,000 - 25,000 words priced at $2.99.

This model has worked extremely well thus far. We can proudly say that since we've launched our initial line in 2011, we've had praise and only few contrcutvie criticisms here and there. For example, with respect to our first TV Book title, Order of Five, which consists of 13 episodes and a single-episode prequel, one person said they really enjoyed the books and the concept but weren't sure they'd pay $12.87 for a full season. To this I say tisk, tisk. Even at the bare minimum required word count for a TV Book (5,000 words), Order of 5ive Season One (excluding the prequel) falls at over 65,000 words. Many novels that fall shorter than 65,000 words are priced even higher in print form. But again, it's not about word count, it's about quality.

But speaking of word count, on a comment by a fan concerning our Moment of Death trilogy by author Drusilla Winters, (which features three books, Flight 666, Long Cold Winter, and Moment of Death at $2.99 each) it was suggested that we combine all three books and release the compiled trilogy for $2.99. Trust me, it wouldn't work that way because all three of Drusilla's books are stand alone stories, though they are a trilogy per se. In actuality, I believe that each and every one of our Movie Books can be considered a 400 + page novel that's had three-hundred pages of filler stripped away from its bones, leaving the pure, exciting story that allows a reader to get in and out of the book adventure during a commute on a train or plane, or late at night before going to bed. 

So again, quality is king, whether the book is 1/4 the length of a typical novel or not. To back up my claim, let's take a look at the Kindle Singles platform. Authors such as Dean Koontz and Stephen King have both written Kindle Singles that are roughly 80-100 pages in length that go for $2.99. Now, I am not claiming that 711 Press houses A-list authors at this point, but what I am trying to say is a good story is a good story, whether it's 80 pages or 480 pages.

With that said, some have asked why 711 Press doesn't release our titles through the Kindle Singles platform? Because we aren't releasing singles, we're releasing movies and TV shows in book form, plain and simple.

So in closing, I'd like to say that you shouldn't base your book-buying opinion of pricing on page count. Base your choices on the quality of writing and content. And if you wonder if 711 Press stands behind their quality standard and writing stance, please know that you can read the first chapter of any Movie Book for free on any book page by clicking READ SAMPLE CHAPTER below the book description and decide for yourself.

Happy reading!

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.
Member Account Required
You must have a member account on this website in order to post comments. Log in to your account to enable posting. To become a member, send a request via the Contact Us page with "Become a Member" in the Subject line.