Tuesday, 7 July 2015

E-Book Prices in South Africa

The de facto standard minimum for independently published e-books is $2.99.

That's thanks to Amazon, because $2.99 is the lowest an author can price his work to qualify for 70% royalties from Kindle Direct Publishing. Below that level, authors can only expect to earn 35%. Books on sale are generally priced at $0.99, or free.

Some people think $2.99 is too low, and price their books at $4.99 or even $5.99, but for most self-published books on Amazon, $2.99 appears to be the norm.

Now, if you live somewhere other than the United States (and particularly in a country where Amazon doesn't have a native store), like me, then you really have no idea what $2.99 equates to. Sure, you can ask Google, and it will tell you that, at the time of this writing, it's worth ZAR36.93, or whatever, in your native currency. But is R36.93 a fair price for a South African to pay for an e-book? Does $2.99 really mean as much to an American as R36.93 to a South African.

Clearly not. There's a reason why iTunes in South Africa charges R7.99 (or did, up until a couple of months ago) for stuff that Americans pay $0.99 for, even though $0.99 actually works out to R12.20!

Maybe the Bic Mac index will help shed some light on it, but it's clear to me that $2.99 means less to an American than R36.93 does to a South African, and that R36.93 means more to a South African than $2.99 means to an American. In real terms, does R36.93 translate to... $6 to an American? More?

Add to that the fact that South Africa is in the middle of Amazon's infamous "surcharge zone", which means that you're extremely unlikely to actually pay $2.99 for a book with a list price of $2.99; you'd be lucky to pay under $5 (R61.60) in South Africa!

So what do you think? Do you live in South Africa, and buy e-books from Amazon? Do you think the prices are fair?

If you live in another country, have you had any similar thoughts?

I'd love it if you'd post your experiences and thoughts in the comments below, and let me know what you have to say!

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