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An open letter to Seth Godin regarding the pricing of ebooks

Dear Seth,
(All my readers are welcome to read this but this is addressed to Mr. Godin himself)

I like you and I like your work. I owe you big for the knowledge you pass on free-of-charge.

Recently, you wrote “Paying for first“. I agree with the main point – that readers will pay for early access to content. However, unless you are…you, most authors can’t afford to put the time into a book project only to see it sell for $1.99. Given the number of copies that a long-tail author sells, financially we would be better off spending that time working in fast food, instead of sharing what we know with others.

The price of my book may well go to $1.99. With you setting expectations that all content should be cheap, it gets harder to sell ebooks for a price that delivers value to the buyers as well as the author.

The problem is, you are so well respected that when you say:

$1.99 ebooks. This is the clearing price for virtually all ebooks going forward.

People begin to question why I dare charge $9.95.

I charge that because of the time it to amass the knowledge represented in the book. In my case, the book represents 28 years of knowledge wrapped up in ~80 pages. I charge $9.95 because at that price, it delivers real value for the people buying it.

I am not asking you to retract your words, not even to explain them. I am only asking that going forward, you consider the weight your words carry. You can very easily set an unrealistic market expectation. One that those of us who cannot secure promotional partnerships, can’t live up (or in this case, down) to. Help those of us still in the trenches to show the book buying public that good content is worth a fair price, not just a sale price.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

p.s. I am under no illusion that Seth knows who I am or will ever read this. :)

One thought on “An open letter to Seth Godin regarding the pricing of ebooks

  1. Great post, Cal! I just finished reading it on my iPhone while playing with my son in our crawl space. :) Please excuse my fat thumbs.

    You make an excellent argument. Having read your book, I have another idea for you. I truly believe everyone who wants a website should read your book. 15 years in the industry (that includes college side jobs which may not count) tells me you have a great thing here. The only problem may be that not enough people will benefit from it because, as you say, guys like Seth don’t know who you are.

    What if you gave your book away for free for a short period of time? I think people would see it’s value and _require_ their clients and team members to read it (and pay full price). You might get enough exposure to make a big long term profit.

    That being said, I also believe you can charge whatever price you think is fair and people like me everywhere will continue to market it for you because it has really great material.

    Either way, you make a great point about the weight of Godin’s ideas and influence. At whatever price, on behalf of developers everywhere, I hope your book is a wild success..

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