Publishers are cutting e-book prices to entice people away from other “digital temptations,” reports Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in The Wall Street Journal (12/29/15). Usually, an e-book costs “about $12.99 to $14.99,” but some titles can be had for as little as 99 cents — and sometimes for free — via sites like BookBub.com. “What publishers are saying is that they’d rather you read our book than play Angry Birds,” says BookBub CEO Josh Schanker. BookBub plays its part by promoting the discounted e-books to some 7 million of its daily email subscribers.
BookBub doesn’t directly sell the e-books; it simply offers links to Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble, which pay it a referral fee of five or ten percent of the retail price. It also earns “a fee from publishers and self-published writers, who pay to have their works included in the daily emails.” This, of course, results in increased sales of the books. It can also bring broader exposure and potential “buzz” to books that might otherwise languish in obscurity. BookBub anticipates “about $30 million in retail sales” this year.
The question is “whether consumers who are dedicated to reading bargain books will ever spend as enthusiastically to buy full-priced titles.” “It’s a trade-off,” says Brendan Rudnicki of RobinReads.com, a BookBub competitor, along with BookGorilla, and TheFussyLibrarian. “Everybody wants visibility and they are willing to discount to get it,” Brandon says. Steven Zacharias, CEO of Kensington Books admits the allure is powerful. “We know we might be shooting ourselves in the foot,” he says. “But I can’t resist because it’s such a good way to stimulate sales.”