I’ve got an interest in the answer to the following question:
What is the right price for a 300-page book that is freely available online?
If you have an opinion, please vote in this poll: http://twtpoll.com/8sgvef.
Some Price Points
Before you vote, here are some data points assuming that you are using a service like Lulu or a Short-run printer:
- The cost to print and bind a 300 pager at Kinkos will approach $35.
- The cost to print 100-copies of a 300 pager at Lulu in a lot of 100 will cost around $10.00 per unit for the content creator.
- The cost to print 100-copies of a 300 pager at a local printer with a turn-around time of 3-5 days is $8.75 per unit.
- The cost to print 100-copies of a 300 pager at a short-run printer with a turn-around time of 4 weeks is about $6.60 per unit.
- The cost to print 1000-copies of a 300 pager at a short-run print will approach something like $4.70 per unit.
Depending on how you do it, distribution costs are probably around $3.00 per unit, and I’m also assuming that the customer pays for shipping.
Some Initial Thoughts
$39.99 is not the right price for a free book, but neither is the correct price the per unit cost. I think the answer is in between, but I’m wondering what people think about this question. There are certain books that people will pay a premium for even though they are available online: The Subversion Book, Maven: The Definitive Guide. Books like these are on foundational tools that people need to use, and I also think that a portion of the audience purchasing the print book might not be aware that the book is available online for free.
As free books become more popular as an option for technical authors, I’m looking for some way to price them. My initial guess is that a good price for a printed 300-page book that is available online is about $14.99. Anyone have any thoughts? Your answers will influence some decisions I’m trying to make on the subject.