Jul 10, 2009

I'll Be Damned...

Thanks to John over at sfsignal, I became aware of the impending launch of Damnation Books. They appear to be mostly oriented towards Dark Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal Thriller-type work and offer a range of lengths from Short Story to full length Novel.

The full listing of launch titles can be found over their website. Honestly, none of the titles/authors interest me much. What I found interesting was Damnation Books pricing model.

First off, Damnation is offering ALL of their titles as eBooks. You can also buy any novella or novel as a TPB but they are fully embracing the eBook revolution.

Damnation Books also appears to be intelligent enough to realize that the physical book pricing system doesn't translate to eBooks. Just because you are willing to buy a $20 hardcover doesn't mean you are willing to pay 20 for a digital file.

Here's Damnation's variable pricing strategy.

What the heck is variable pricing? It works like this: At 12:01 A.M on the day a new book goes live on our site, it’s offered free. Yes, you read correctly. The first copy is FREE! With each download the book rises in price by five cents until it reaches its full retail price. At that time, the book remains at full retail price. Coupons and discount codes are not applicable for any book until it reaches its full retail price.

This means that every single one of the books listed above will be launched using the variable pricing at 12:01 A.M. on September 1st 2009. Awesome, huh?

So the first person to download the book gets it for free, the second for a nickel, the third for a dime, and so on until the book reaches full price. This is a very interesting strategy and I'm curious to know if it will work. It will definitely encourage people to follow the site and keep checking for new releases so that they can have a chance at getting books for a fraction of the cost. However, the incentive to buy the book will decrease over time so I'm not sure what this will mean for backlog sales, especially for those titles that don't get sufficient word-of-mouth support from reviewers and bloggers.

This system is also dependent on a continuous flow of new material. More than one project has started out hot and fizzled out as time goes by. If Damnation Books doesn't add quality new material on a semifrequent basis people will forget about them and without a significant level of people buying books, they will never reach the full price point.

I would also like to know what the final prices are going to be. Are they going to be determined via demand? Will there be a set format price (1.00 for Short Stories, 10.00 for novels)?

Also, how are the authors being paid for their work? Do they get a advance and then a percentage of additional sales? Straight percentage? If it takes 200 units sold to get to the full price of $10.00, are the authors getting paid for those 200 units or is Damnation losing money at that point?

There are still a lot of questions here but I'm glad to see someone is trying a different pricing model for eBooks. It could be an interesting experiment to see what price the market will support before sales fall off. I don't think this represents the final answer but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

Check in on Sept 1st to see how their debut goes.

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