New Markets, New Problems, New Prices

Submitted by C B Wright on

Some quick news on the fiction side of things:

Pay Me, Bug! available on iTunes, unexpected price drop

Item One: Pay Me, Bug! is now (rather again, after a long absence) available for sale on iTunes. I pulled PMB! from iTunes shortly after it was put there because people who bought it noted strange formatting errors, and I had no reliable way to fix them. At the time, I was using Smashwords as my distributor, and I found other reports of people noticing the same issues with Smashword-generated epubs.

This is not, apparently, a universal condition--there are people who have had zero issues with this. Unfortunately, I was not one of them, so I was unable to serve my burgeoning Apple constituency. It is possible to sell epubs directly through iTunes, but you have to use a MACOS-only app to load the epubs into the environment... which I don't have.

Enter Draft2Digital, a new service sorta-kinda like Smashwords in some respects that also gives you access to iTunes. Their cut is a little heftier than I'd like, but their customer support is excellent, and thanks to them PMB! is once again available MacSide.

... well, it was always available. You just had to use the Kindle or Nook app to get it. But now it's, you know, legitimate.

It'll be interesting to see if this directly-generated-from-me epub has the same formatting errors the previous version did. If so, I might owe Smashwords an apology.

Item Two: PMB!'s price is being lowered to $4.99. This is not a special promotion, you're actually getting it a whole penny cheaper than it was yesterday. Why is this? Because Apple is obsessed with things ending in .99, so when I typed "$5.00" in the price box and they submitted it to Apple, Apple changed it $4.99 on the grounds that I probably didn't want it changed to $5.99. As it happens, they're right, and I can live with the change, but I had to go to all the other sites where I sell this thing and change each to $4.99 as well because they were going to do it anyway, so I might as well make it legitimate.

But seriously, Apple, what's with the decimal-fetish? I mean, it's not much skin off my nose if you do (pretty much just a penny's worth) but it's a little weird.

Curveball ebooks also getting cheaper

Curveball! When I first started Curveball, I priced each ebook at $.99. A few months later I raised the cost of each issue to $1.50. Now I'm putting it back down to $.99.

Why am I doing this? Well, it's John Scalzi's fault, but I'm not so much blaming him as I am thanking him.

See, when I started Curveball I thought $.99 was the perfect price for the ebook. It's essentially an impulse-level price, and I'm publishing monthly, and serials are hard to commit to. Most people who read it would be doing so on this site, for free, I reasoned; but for those who like their tablets and phones, a $.99/month habit wouldn't be too hard to justify. All of this made perfect sense to me, and I was satisfied by the prospect that a $.99 issue wouldn't make me much money, but it would make it easier for someone to look at it and say "yeah, I'll give this a shot."

Except the month after I released Issue One I started reading all this discussion about how the 99-cent price point had lost it's allure, and people were starting to associate it with "trashy self-published dreck." Well, I resemble that remark to be sure, but I don't want people thinking that until after the purchase. That's just basic economics; I learned that from Ubersoft. So I regretfully raised the price to $1.50, which let's be honest isn't much higher... but it's not below a dollar. It places itself out of the impulse buy category.

Enter Scalzi. People have been serializing their work since forever, and posting a serial on Amazon is nothing new--heck, Amazon has its own division specifically devoted to marketing and selling serial fiction on the Kindle--but Scalzi is a big-time science fiction author who decided it would be fun, so he created a serial called The Human Division (link is to the first issue on Amazon) and started selling each issue... at ninety-nine cents a pop.

There you have it. A big-time fancy author guy just legitimized the $.99 price point, which means I'm going back to it.

It'll take about 24-48 hours for all the prices to reset, so if you were planning to go on an Eviscerati buying spree you might want to hold off till Wednesday or so.