99p Books – The Whole Story

So I’ve just reduced Berlin Calling to 99p in the UK, since Eurovision excitement is growing at the moment and I’m seeing more and more fun videos of the different acts and I’m very much celebrating the price drop and the chance to attract some new readers. But there is a full story with 99p ebooks in the UK that perhaps some readers don’t know. I’ll explain below after celebrating for a moment that I’ve finally been brave enough to drop this price:

‘Eurovision is coming’ graphic announcing a price drop for Berlin Calling to 99p.

I am also a reader and buyer of 99p books and celebrated the money saving of being able to read my favourite authors for so little. It also leads to higher volumes of sales as people can buy more books, meaning better sales numbers for authors, so there is a positive side, here, BUT…

Did you know that when books drop to 99p on Amazon, the royalty rate also gets cut in half? That means, if you buy a book for £1.99, the author gets four times the royalties than if you buy that same book for 99p. If you keep in mind that publishers take the biggest stake, then Amazon (although these two swap when the book drops to 99p), then the author, what remains for the author from a 99p book is very little.

None of this is the fault of readers and any book purchase (especially if you wouldn’t have made that purchase otherwise) helps authors, it’s just a symptom of a difficult industry that has seen most authors unable to support themselves with their creative work and reliant on some other form of income. The latest survey put the median author’s annual income from their books at £7,000, meaning a lot of authors earn less than that as well.

This problem is particularly acute in the UK, where the 99p ebook is at home. Very few books get reduced so low in other places, but the UK market has become a ‘race-to-the-bottom’, meaning books with British protagonists or set in the UK just don’t tend to make much money (which is fine if you see it only as a creative endeavour, but writing a book is also a lot of work, so it’s a shame most authors don’t get paid an appropriate hourly rate for this work).

I suppose you can be certain that those of us who keep doing it are certainly writing out of passion!

As I released Berlin Calling myself as a bit of an experiment with self-publishing, the publisher’s cut doesn’t come out, making a 99p ebook a little easier to swallow as an author. I’d still love it if you’d pick up a copy of any of my books at any price!

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