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Ebook Battle for Control of my Mind and the Price of Clarkesworld

We've been publishing $2.99 ebook editions of Clarkesworld Magazine for a while now. Why $2.99? Well, Amazon and B&N, our two biggest resellers, have a tiered royalty system that provides publishers with an incentive to do so.

Amazon
70% royalty (minus delivery fee) for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, 35% royalty for everything else
B&N.com65% royalty for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, 40% royalty for everything else

I'm not terribly distressed by the $2.99 price point. It's less than a gallon of gas or a 2 liter bottle of Coke, but then again, when I turn on the TV, I get barraged by commercials for $1 Value Meals. Is $1 the magic number? It certainly doesn't indicate quality, but it is popular. I was talking with a friend about all this and they issued a challenge... "You offer more quality than a Value Meal. Lower your price to 99 cents and you'll kick ass!" The idea has been festering in my head since. (Or maybe that was the cold I'm just recently over.)

$0.99 for an issue of a Hugo-Winning magazine.

The logical/mathematical side of my brain is screaming, NO, NO, NO, we would have to sell nearly 6 times as many books at Amazon and 5 times as many at B&N.com to maintain our current income. We need that money... Then the not-so-logical side of my brain (the one that decided to launch a magazine) steps up to the mic:

DO IT.

The two side slugged it out for a few days before eventually coming to a compromise. The result: it's time for an experiment. For one month, at our two biggest resellers, we will be selling copies of issue 54 for 99 cents each. At  the end of the month, I'll look at the results and determine whether or not this will be our new list price.

Will our special value meal of quality SF&F be worth a buck to enough people to make this price change workable? With the short window I've set for this experiment, I'm going to have to count on our friends and readers for a little help. Please spread the word, near and far, electronically and in person...

Clarkesworld #54, only 99 cents @
Amazon(Kindle, Mobi)
B&N.com(epub, Nook, Sony, iPad)

I'll let you know what happens.

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May 2014

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