It’s a been a year since my first novel, No Way In, was published, and what better way to mark that anniversary than offering a sale. The Kindle version is now marked down from US $8.95 to US $3.99 and the paperback price will come down very significantly as soon as the Amazon servers can propagate the new price, which will be announced as soon as it can be displayed.
Although print sales remain strong, most of the sales volume has come from the Kindle edition. There are probably three reasons for this: the lower price point; electronic delivery which not only does away with waiting times but spares readers in some countries the inconvenience of working through dysfunctional postal systems; and lastly the proliferation of smartphones.
Although free Kindle readers for a computer have long been available, the availability of free Kindle Reader apps for Android, iPhone and Windows Phones, etc means that e-books can now be read away from the desktop. Content can now be delivered to the vast mobile market. That means that all those of the people who are working their smartphones in the subways, trains and waiting rooms can now purchase, take delivery and start reading content in under a minute.
The last remaining significant barrier will probably be to find some way to load “real money” into a phone so that people without credit cards or Paypal accounts can buy stuff online. When books are selling at US $3.99 then it really costs as much as a hamburger at a fast-food outlet.
But even people without a credit card or online money account can still receive e-books as gifts. The Amazon site explains how to do this.
Any Kindle book available for purchase in the Kindle Store can be given as a gift to anyone with an e-mail address. You do not need a Kindle to send or receive Kindle book gifts, and the recipient can read their gift on a registered Kindle device or any free Kindle reading application.
To gift a Kindle book, click the Give as a Gift button located under the Buy button on Kindle Store product detail pages. You can also gift Kindle books through your recipient’s Amazon Wishlist. Note that free books, books on pre-order, periodicals and other content in the Kindle Store cannot be gifted at this time.
That opens the possibility of giving friends the sub-$5 gift this Christmas. Or the sub-$10 gift. Even the higher priced books or other media are a relative bargain and their delivery by email means a lot less effort when remembering friends. A number of commenters on the Belmont Club are published on Amazon or Kindle; our poet laurate Walt, for example, is has many. Verse-A-Fire Volume 2, sells for 99 cents. Or you can send some of Michael Totten’s books, such as The Road to Fatima Gate on Kindle as a gift. The low price points provide a lot of gift-giving options in these hard times.
What will this mean for books in the long run? The good news is that aggregate market for books will probably expand immensely. The bad news is that the margin per unit sale will probably decline — though even that should be qualified. One of the things that print on demand and Kindle publishing achieve is that you can’t lose money on a minimum print run. The author always makes a profit — it may be cents — but still something on every sale. Without the fixed cost of thousands of unsold books in a warehouse to factor into profit and loss, authors may actually make more per unit. That means we live in interesting times. It also means the sale is on!