At this stage of the book’s life, setting a price is difficult. At low print volumes costs are inflated, and the pricing is artificial. This won’t change until I can finance a proper large print run.
It’s actually rather interesting: the Amazon list price of $26, the lowest round figure I was able to set, is determined by the costs of print-on-demand (POD). When a customer places an order on Amazon, CreateSpace prints a single copy, binds it and supplies it to Amazon. Amazon takes a cut so it is cheaper when ordering from CreateSpace directly.
POD is obviously not a cost-effective process, but it is amazing that POD is possible at all. Until a few years ago, it wasn’t an option.
The books I am selling privately are printed locally. I ordered 100 copies to start with, because more than that I wasn’t willing to risk, and at less than 100 copies the per-book cost would have been prohibitive. I’m now onto my next 100. The cost is about R270 per copy.
At first I simply charged the Amazon list price (R350), hoping to get back some of the expenses I have incurred so far, and many people were happy to pay it. But I then realized that for now my aim is not to make a profit, nor even to recover my expenses, but to get the book out there and noticed.
That’s when I decided to try what I called ‘Pick a price’ – only to discover that this is an officially accepted pricing strategy called PWYW (‘pay what you want’). I liked the sentence in the Wiki article where it says: “For both [buyer and seller], it changes a […] conflict centered on price into a friendly win-win exchange centered on value and trust, and addresses the fact that value perceptions and price sensitivities can vary widely among buyers.”
Some customers may not want to pay what they perceive to be a very high price, for a product they are not sure about. Others may be thrilled by the book, and may want to add on a mark-up to support this venture. Others may simply want to ‘leave a tip’.
So, until further notice, PWYW!