If you read paranormal romance, you’ve heard of (and probably read) JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and her other books set in that world. These books are fairly universally loved, usually garnering thousands of glowing reviews and ensuring the author will pretty much live on every bestseller list for weeks (or months) following each new release. (The hype is warranted, too. The series is fabulous. But I digress…) So when I found out that JR Ward had a new release, I checked out Blood Fury on Amazon eagerly and immediately. That’s where I noticed something weird. Something I’m not used to seeing on JR Ward books.
I immediately clicked on the reviews to see what was going on, and noticed that the majority of the negativity wasn’t even about the book itself, it was about the price. Reviewers said things like:
“There’s NO WAY I’m paying $14.99 for an ebook!!! And I’m REALLY FREAKING SICK AND TIRED of being taken advantage of by rich people and rich corporations! You can keep your books, JR Ward! I’m done!”
“Insane price for an electronic book. Will not buy until price is lowered!”
“I am a big fan of J.R. Ward [HOWEVER] I refuse to pay $14.99 for an electronic book. I have several authors I dearly love but being on Social Security I can not afford to pay these EXORBITANT prices for books that are electronic (next to NO overhead). I have seen book[s] that are either the same price or only a few pennies different between hardcover books and electronic ones. Seriously!!! You all need to REALLY rethink this crap.”
These are people who read and enjoy JR Ward’s books. They’ve followed the series, presumably from its beginning in 2006. But now, after a price increase of $7 (prior books were sold for $7.99, which is fairly standard for traditionally published work, and now they’re $14.99), these faithful readers are saying enough’s enough.
So, that brings us to today’s question.
When it comes to romance novel pricing, how much is too much?
Times are tough all over
Now, we understand that authors who work with Big 5 publishing houses (JR Ward, for example) often don’t have control of their book’s price. And traditional publishers are under more pressure to perform than ever these days. The money publishers make on books is probably less than it ever has been, thanks to an influx of indie authors offering rock-bottom pricing for their books, and programs such as Kindle Unlimited. We don’t think these publishers (and authors) are necessarily greedy. The simple fact is that the cost of doing business has increased for them, and who do they have to pass those costs on to if not readers?
We also understand that people often spend more than $14.99 on a single lunch, fancy coffee blends at Starbucks, and a trip to an afternoon matinee (none of which provide the hours of entertainment you get from reading a good novel). Is it really so unreasonable for a proven author who has labored on a book for months, or even years in some cases (not to mention the money spent on proofreaders, editors, cover designers and marketing personnel), to charge $14.99 for their work?
All the cool kids are doing it
And just to be perfectly clear, we’re not trying to pick on JR Ward. Lots of big name authors and publishers are charging similar prices. Anyone checked out the price for the Kindle edition of the new Nora Roberts book Year One: Chronicles of the One? Yep, you guessed it, $14.99. And it’s not just romance either. Stephen King’s latest book (co-authored with his son Owen), Sleeping Beauties, is priced at $14.99 for the ebook version as well. In fact, check the biggest names in just about any genre. The going rate for the Kindle edition seems to be universally creeping up to $14.99.
But on the flip side of the debate, we’ve read a TON of great books that were free, or in the $0.99-$7.99 range. There’s even an entire marketplace of services such as Bookbub and BookGorilla that will alert readers to free and/or sale-priced books, sometimes from very well known authors. So, why SHOULD readers pay more than $7.99 when there are so many cheaper options out there? How is it our problem that the traditional publishing industry isn’t as robust and profitable as it used to be?
With all that in mind, let’s hear your thoughts:
Anything y’all would like to add? Let’s discuss!