At last for those of you who love period dramas/historical romance on television. The additions to the cast of Sanditon Season 2 and 3 have been announced, and it’s filled with new male faces! Filming has started, and the Sanditon Sisterhood is buzzing. The question is who will win Charlotte’s heart?  Will she ever get over brooding Sydney? (Who we all hope is miserable with his rich wife.)

Cameras are now rolling on the second season of the Red Planet Pictures and MASTERPIECE drama Sanditon, for MASTERPIECE PBS, BritBox UK and ITV, as a wave of new inhabitants join heroine Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) for her return to the picturesque coastal resort.

Source: Sanditon Season 2 Casting News | Masterpiece | Official Site | PBS

Today while I was checking out the Amazon Best Seller list, I glanced at the book prices. A few caught my eye, thinking they were outrageously high. You might assume that books on sale would sell more copies and rise to the best seller list. Apparently, that’s not the case, because many books in the top one hundred are priced far above a 99 cent price point.

To be frank, I wouldn’t pay some of the prices that are being asked by the traditional publishing houses. Nevertheless, others are buying them based on their popularity and the author. Fifty-four of the top one hundred are in Kindle Unlimited, so pricing isn’t necessarily the factor that makes them hit the best seller list — it’s page reads. Yes, it’s that convoluted system that Amazon uses on your Kindle. If you pay for the Kindle Unlimited subscription, then the author you are reading gets paid only when you flip a page. That’s right. When you flip the page with your index finger, an author makes a royalty. Most of the time it’s about a penny or less. Regardless if the book is in KU, it still has a sale price for those not enrolled in the subscription service. Those prices vary, as well as the royalties an author receives from that price point.

What’s the going rate for historical romance? My sampling of the price ranges today on the historical romance best seller list top one hundred are as follows:

21 priced at 99 cents

3 priced at $1.99

10 priced at $2.99

13 priced at $3.99

18 priced at $4.99

2 priced at $5.99

3 priced at $6.99

15 priced at $7.99*

5 priced at $9.99

1 priced at 11.99

2 priced at $19.99**

Odd pricing ranges:

$4.73

$5.49

$5.68

$6.95

*These are all books in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series

**These are two boxed sets which contain three books in the Bridgerton Series ($6.66 per book)

As an author, I tend to price my books based on length. $2.99 for novellas, $3.99 for full-length novels of 80,000 words or above. I do have one perma freebie in the mix, as well as one perma $0.99 as enticements to a series. Most of the time, I think I under price myself in comparison to others.

The range of independently published books seem to be 99 cents to $4.99, while higher priced books are those from main-stream publishers.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the industry news, Amazon and big trade publishers are in hot water, having been recently sued over price-fixing.

Amazon.com and Big Five Publishers Accused of eBook Price-Fixing.” Amazon.com and the “Big Five” publishers – Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster – have been accused of colluding to fix ebook prices, in a class action filed by the law firm that successfully sued Apple and the Big Five on the same charge 10 years ago.

The end result of price-fixing means higher prices on eBooks for consumers and bigger profits for publishers. The definition of price-fixing per the Federal Trade Commission is:

Price fixing is an agreement (written, verbal, or inferred from conduct) among competitors that raises, lowers, or stabilizes prices or competitive terms. Generally, the antitrust laws require that each company establish prices and other terms on its own, without agreeing with a competitor.

As a reader do you have a price point? How much are you willing to pay for a book? If you’re on a budget, Kindle Unlimited with a flat monthly fee to read as many books as you want might be the way to go. Otherwise, you will pay the price set individually for each book.

Independent authors generally are cheaper. No doubt that is because they put more in their pocket from the royalties they make, but also have expenses to publish a book. A traditional author doesn’t have the expenses, because the publishers pays for the editing, covers, distribution, but they price the book is higher. The publisher takes their profit from each sale, leaving the author with a much lower royalty rate, and perhaps even an agent who gets a cut as well.

For me, I’ll pay up to $4.99 for an eBook. Any more than that, I figure I might as well pay for the print version for a few bucks more and have something tangible to hold. That brings up another subject — electronic or print? Hmm, perhaps I’ll wait to poke at that decision in another post. In addition, I can talk about those crazy resellers on Amazon who have used copies of $10 books for $1,000. Another racket.

Happy purchasing!

The RITAs are no more. If you’re not familiar with the award it was formerly bestowed for excellence in published romance novels and novellas but was retired in 2020 after the Romance Writers of America meltdown. If you missed all the articles about the controversy at the RWA, you can search for prior posts. You can check out the past winners and hall of fame for those who won multiple RITAs at this LINK.

Now it’s the Vivian Award from the Romance Writers of America. “The Vivian recognizes excellence in romance writing and showcases author talent and creativity. We celebrate the power of the romance genre with its central message of hope–because happily ever afters are for everyone.” Vivian Stephens was the founder of Romance Writers of America.

Below are those books nominated for the historical romance category. Winners will be announced July 31, 2021.

Historical Romance – Long (80,000 Words or Longer)

The Clothier’s Daughter by Bronwyn Parry

His Secret Mistress by Cathy Maxwell

Once a Spy by Mary Jo Putney

Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase

Historical Romance – Mid (50,000 to 80,000 Words)

For This Knight Only by Barbara Bettis

The Footman and I by Valerie Bowman

A Song of Secrets by Robyn Chalmers

A Study in Passion by Louisa Cornell

There is also a Historical Romance Short Category for books 20,000 to 50,000 in length, but there were no finalists.

Here are list of the 2021 Rules here FYI.

Amazon, which a Bloomberg analysis said controlled nearly 90% of the e-book market as of 2018, was able to benefit immensely from the higher prices by charging customers more, the lawsuit alleged.

Source: Amazon hit with antitrust lawsuit alleging e-book price-fixing – Business Insider

A show based on popular bodice-rippers gives an industry often dismissed as tawdry a much-needed embrace. The success of “Bridgerton” couldn’t have come at a better time for the romance industry, which has been struggling to retain its power in the publishing world. Recent years have marked a steady decline in print and ebook sales of romance novels, which went from more than 98 million units sold in 2012 to 41 million in 2020, according to NPD BookScan, whose figures do not reflect sales of self-published titles.

Source: Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’ Heats Up Romance – WSJ

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, has written her first novel for adults, to be released by the leading romantic fiction publisher Mills & Boon.  Her novel Heart for a Compass is a fictional historical saga inspired by her great-great-aunt.

Source: Duchess of York: From Budgie the Helicopter to Mills & Boon

ViacomCBS agreed to sell the 96-year-old company in a deal that potentially creates a megapublisher.  A spokesman for Bertelsmann said Penguin Random House had lost market share in recent years and cited Amazon as a competitive threat to the overall book market. The combination of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster would be “below 20 percent,” the company said, citing data from the Association of American Publishers, an industry trade group.

Source: Penguin Random House to Buy Simon & Schuster

What does this mean for readers and authors?  Some of your favorite historical romance authors who are under Penguin contracts are Evie Dunmore, Mary Balogh, Amy Rose Bennet, and others.  From Simon & Shuster are Julia London, Meridith Duran, and others.  The pricey eBook prices from these two traditional publishers of $7.99 and up are no doubt competing with the lower-priced historical romance novels from independent authors on Amazon.  The competition for readers is fierce, and the industry is changing to survive.

Drama in romance writers land. . .

Chinese-American romance writer Milan had been suspended earlier this month for criticizing other novels as being racist.

Source: Romance Writers Drama: Courtney Milan’s Suspension Rescinded, 8 Board Members Resign

UPDATE: Read the link to the article regarding the rescinding of the decision and resignation of board members.

Source: Romance Writers of America Suspends Novelist Courtney Milan for Calling Rival’s Work ‘Racist Mess’