New Markets, New Problems, New Prices

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.

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