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!