So, I haven’t been on top of my bookkeeping/accounting/etc for the last several months. I did go through and enter all the data from my physical sales at PHXComicon, which I posted about, but until this week I hadn’t processed any of my eBook sales numbers into Quickbooks since April 2nd. I’m all caught up, now.
So, imaginary audience who actually reads all these posts, I bet you’re wondering how my pricing experiment went, aren’t you? To recap: I lowered my eBook prices to $2.99-$4.99 for Q1, then raised them to $6.99-$9.99 for Q2, then moved them to somewhere in between after Q2 – to $3.99-$5.99 for individual books & $9.99 each for the two Untrue Trilogies. (These current prices are all $1-2 below what I had my eBooks priced at last year.) So, when I lowered prices to what the most vocal eBook readers & indie authors proclaim is “the sweet spot”, sales dropped about 35% quarter-over-quarter (all comparisons are on a unit basis). When I raised prices several dollars for Q2, sales increased quarter-over-quarter, but were still about 22% lower than Q4/2010. Q3 is only a month in, and sales already look like they’re back at Q4/2010’s levels. i.e.: for my books, the “sweet spot” seems to be around half the paperback cover price. Lower and sales drop significantly, higher and they do better than lower but stay depressed. This matches the results of my last significant pricing experiment, a couple of years ago, where I lowered all my eBooks’ prices to $0.99-$1.99 for 3 months and saw sales stop almost completely.
Oh, and then there’s the free eBooks, always available at modernevil.com. In Q1, when prices were at their lowest and sales were down 35%, free eBook downloads were up 46%. In Q2, when prices were at their highest and sales were up slightly (only down ~22%), free eBook downloads went down slightly (about a 17% drop, quarter-over-quarter). In July, with prices (and sales) almost back to where they were before my pricing experiment, free eBook downloads were also back down around where they were last year. It seems that there is a meaningful connection between paid eBook sales and free eBook downloads, that when people don’t want to pay too much or too little for an eBook they’ll go get it for free, and that if I wanted to maximize the number of people downloading my books (theoretically maximizing my readers), I’d drop the prices down so low people stopped buying my eBooks and watch my free eBook download numbers soar… because people are crazy? Anyway:
Here are the eBook and Podiobook download numbers for/through Q2 of 2011, as usual giving the total of eBook downloads, the total of Podiobook downloads, and the more-accurate (re: # of people who dl’d a full book) total downloads of the final episodes of each Podiobook, as: eBook/total-PB/final-PB
- Lost and Not Found: 340 / 2,163 / 121
- Dragons’ Truth: 832 / 2,039 / 221
- Forget What You Can’t Remember: 372 / 6,533 / 152
- The First Untrue Trilogy: 504 (eBook only)
- The Second Untrue Trilogy: 289 (eBook only)
- Untrue Tales… Book One: 1 / 5,810 / 424
- Untrue Tales… Book Two: 1 / 5,427 / 372
- Untrue Tales… Book Three: 1 / 2,918 / 264
- Untrue Tales… Book Four: N/A / 2,547 / 231
- Untrue Tales… Book Five: N/A / 4,116 / 427
- Untrue Tales… Book Six: N/A / 3,157 / 87
- Cheating, Death: 244 / 6,864 / 421
- Lost and Not Found – Director’s Cut: 210 / 450 / 48
- More Lost Memories (full): 231 / 1,170 / 82
- More Lost Memories (ind. stories, eBook only): 18
- Time, emiT, and Time Again (full): 233 / 1,225 / 58
- Time, emiT, and Time Again (ind. stories, eBook only): 7
- Last Christmas: 4
- Total Q2: 3,287 / 44,419 / 2,908
- Total all-time: 22,941 / 477,489 / 31,033
So, downloads were up for all the Untrue Tales podiobooks (except Book 4, which “completed” in Q1 – that always causes a spike), plus Dragons’ Truth, Cheating, Death, and Time, emiT, and Time Again – but were down for Lost and Not Found (and its Director’s Cut), Forget What You Can’t Remember, and More Lost Memories (i.e.: nearly the entire LaNF universe of books was down, with downloads of Cheating, Death just-about flat). On the eBooks side, downloads of Dragons’ Truth continue to rise and stand out, at roughly double last years’ numbers and almost double those of any of my other books. Downloads of The First Untrue Trilogy were way up, but The Second Untrue Trilogy was flat. Lost and Not Found was up, but ForgetWYCR, C,D, MLM, and LaNF-DC were all down. Not sure what’s to be learned from that, except people are drawn to the new, and the Untrue Trilogies appear new. (Books 4-6 are new, and I understand new readers will want to begin at the beginning…)
The most statistically significant shift I’ve seen this year, both in Q1 and Q2, has been in what file formats are being downloaded. In 2008-2010 I offered each of my eBooks in 7 different formats: PDF (5″x8″), PDF (8″x10″), txt, rtf, html, mobi, and epub, and in those years PDF (5″x8″) got 18%-20% of the downloads while the other 6 formats were roughly even at 11%-15% each. mobi (i.e.: kindle) and txt tended toward the 15% end of that while rtf and PDF (8″x10″) tended toward the 11%-12-% end, but for 3 years it was pretty evenly balanced across all 7 formats. In 2011, 47% of my eBook downloads have been of the 5″x8″ PDF, 17% from the 8″x10″ PDF, 12% the txt, and 8% each from rtf, mobi, and epub. Really, rtf, mobi, and epub have only slightly reduced download numbers – it’s that the PDFs have such significantly increased downloads that skews this (and most of those are of Dragons’ Truth). Really, PDFs have jumped way into the lead for every title except for The First Untrue Trilogy, for which txt seems to be the leading format.
Oh, and because the number interests me, I’ll share that the number of people who appear to have finished downloading my podiobooks seems to have leveled out so far this year and is holding steady at a rate of about 80 people per (complete) title per month. Of note, in 2008 and 2009 and most of 2010 it was 179 people downloading each title each month, and then it slipped down and has held steady around 80/title/month since September 2010. To a certain degree this represents a few very unpopular titles bringing down the average; LaNF-DC currently averages ~17 listeners/month, and each of my two short story collections gets ~20-30 listeners/month, but at the other end I have only 3 books which draw more than 100 listeners/month… so maybe 80 is fair.