Of Pricing Models and Other Imaginary Things

Last weekend Golden Fleece Press put out it’s first children’s book. And I’m not actually going to pitch The Case of the Armadillo on here (more than that link I just snuck in) because I feel like that’s not really the point of this blog.

But filling out all those little boxes, when you throw a book into the world, about what it costs and where it’s going to distribute and all of that always makes me think of monkeys at typewriters.

A quick tour of the e-book market on Amazon, or anywhere else, especially the children’s side of it, is like wondering into an LCD-inspired cartoon from the seventies. You know if you try hard enough it’ll make some kind of sense, but right now it just looks like colors.

I have opinions about pricing in children’s books, even more than just because I write them. Because arguably even more than with regular books I pay attention to children’s books because I have childish thing I am responsible for and I very much would like him to use his e-reader for actually reading once in a while.

This weird straddling position where I understand what I’d like the world to be as a consumer but also what I’d like it to be as a producer happens to me a lot. So I get that a lot of books, particularly children’s picture books are a little difficult to manage, in the e-book thing. Screen scaling and file formatting and all that. Got it.

But I promise you, when a consumer looks at a listing for an e-book that costs $11 and a paperback that costs $8 it’s not making a lot of sense. And also, I’d argue that the big guys should have the tools in place to not need to fight with file formatting, or use heuristic processing, etc. So why do we price things the way we do?

Some of it is an attempt at consistency. Because distribution channels often have minimums they’ll allow you to set as the price (and you happily go with those, because it means you make more than pocket change off each book). Actually, scratch that. A lot of it is consistency. And then a little of ‘well, I think the market is somewhere around here’ and the rest is ‘I’d pay that.’

Which, I grant you, doesn’t sound all that professional on the surface. Except I believe to the very blackest depths of my cynical soul that’s how ‘marketing professionals’ do it too. They just have bigger words for it and a lot of extra numbers.

This happened this weekend too.

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