Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Using Kindle Prices as a Measure of Quality

I’ve created a personal rule of thumb for when I buy books. If the Kindle version is priced at $2.99 or lower, I don’t buy it. I realize that is the opposite of the attitude that many Kindle owners have, since many of them bought Kindles hoping to get cheap books, but I have my reasons. If I want to keep the book, I’ll probably buy the paper version. But if the book is one that is normally printed on cheap newsprint paper anyway, I’ll purchase the Kindle version, even though it will cost me $8.

My thinking is that the people who are pricing their books at $2.99 and below are self-published authors who have the idea that lower prices will generate more sales. I’ve got nothing against self-published authors. In fact, I have several books in my library that I purchased for about $20 because that is what the subsidy press was charging for them. But here’s the thing, people who are willing to sell their work at very low prices don’t see their work as valuable. They price their work that low because they don’t think people are willing to pay more than that. That is quite possibly true, in which case, it isn’t of high enough quality for it to be worth my time.

I’m sure there are exceptions, but when you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, you have to have some way to eliminate the least likely places you’ll find a needle. You start by finding the genre you like. If you don’t typically like romances, you don’t go looking there. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some romances you would enjoy, but you’re more likely to find a book you like somewhere else. Since the traditional publishers generally charge more than $2.99, and the highest percentage of poorly written books is among the self-published stuff, if we eliminate anything under that then we’ve eliminated the bulk of the poorly written books.