On Pricing and Breaking Conventions

October 19th, 2014 by Potato

A little while ago I discussed pricing for the book. I wanted to grow up and move away from the *.99 type pricing to a scheme that would give an even amount after tax, for the few people that might be paying in cash.

Since then I’ve had a little bit of time to very superficially skim the literature on pricing and it looks like yes, people are used to prices set just below a dollar break point, and if you ask them they will rationally round up: show them a book at $16.95 and they’ll say “yes, that’s a $17 book.” No one is fooled by this pricing. But studies also show that despite knowing that, people will still be more likely to buy an item at $16.99 than at $17.00.

On top of that, even if it doesn’t work, that’s the way everyone else does it. So sure, I’d like to move to more rational pre-tax (and thus after-tax) pricing, but Wayfare had a good point: for a book that isn’t going to fly off the shelves no matter the price, why take the risk of setting a price that looks weird? Even though I have full control over my pricing and could set it up to fit my idea of how things should be, it doesn’t make sense for me to try to tilt at that windmill now. The risk of someone going “What’s with that price? This guy must be some crazy self-publisher, I’m out.” are far greater than the chances of someone going “What a novel idea! This book must be even more fantastic!” So when the book comes out, you’ll see the price ends in .95.

Similarly, all-in pricing would make sense. Right now if you pre-order the book from my e-store the special pre-order price is all-inclusive: when you get to PayPal for the final checkout step the price you saw on the front page is the price you’ll pay, no extra taxes or shipping. But again, as Wayfare says, no other store works this way. Sure, Amazon and Chapters will offer free shipping, but only if you order multiple books. Yes, I hate added fees and taxes calculated later — and it makes setting up the e-commerce software much simpler on the back-end — but everyone is just used to those things, and seeing a higher up-front headline price may scare people away. So when the special pre-order discounts go away you may actually see the headline price on my storefront decrease while the all-in price increases as I add a shipping & handling fee on the back-end.

Of course on the flip side, extra shipping costs are the main reason people abandon their shopping carts, so I’ll try to head that off by noting the flat-rate Canada Post shipping in the product description on my page. And all this hand-wringing may not matter past the pre-order period as once the book is listed in Amazon most people will likely follow that link rather than the one to my own store.

One Response to “On Pricing and Breaking Conventions”

  1. Wayfare Says:

    It really is a full time job to try and keep you from looking too weird.

    (And I never said something so negative as “for a book that isn’t going to fly off the shelves no matter the price…”)