(This was originally a G+ post, but then it got long, so I thought I ought to copy it to my blog.)
The Indie eBook site, OnlyIndie, uses a variable pricing model which starts at free. After 15 “sales” the price goes to $0.01, and increments up by $0.01 per reader (up to a maximum of $7.98). Unless the book goes 24 hours without a sale, and then the price starts dropping again. (They don’t say how much or how quickly. For the following calculations, I’ve decided it’s probably “quick enough” since it’s rare for any of my eBooks to sell two days in a row (or, really, two months in a row).) Most of my eBooks sell between 0 and 6 times per year, across all available platforms – though Untrue Tales… Book One sold 9 copies last year, and Cheating, Death sold 14 last year.
Based on a quick look at my spreadsheets, and pretending that 1) getting 15 people to take a book for free is easy, 2) once a title hits a price of $0.01 it doesn’t actually drop to free again, and 3) demand for my eBooks would have been the same at $0.01 as it was at all the different prices they’ve been at in the last 3.5 years (Okay, this one is actually based on some data, where I’ve lowered and raised and adjusted prices between $0.99 and $9.99 for months at a time, and seen that interest in my books drops when they’re below $2.99 but doesn’t really change much between $4.99 and $9.99.), I would have made roughly
$3.25 $1.62 if 100% of my eBook sales in the last 3.5 years had been made through OnlyIndie. (They take 50% of all sales under $2/each. Not even my most popular $0.99 short story has sold 200 copies, ever.)
Since Amazon price-matches, Apple won’t allow books below $0.99 and won’t allow you to undercut them on other sites, et cetera, et cetera, saying 100% of sales had to be through OnlyIndie isn’t even relevant: The earnings would be the same. Maybe this tool/site/scheme would work as a way to “build a platform”, but it seems like it would need a lot of attention, just to keep prices from falling to useless levels.