Here's Why You Should Discount Your Book

Saturday, October 03, 2015

After you've spent the time and money to edit, design, and market your book, the thought of selling it at a discounted price may seem counterintuitive or even downright offensive. However, offering to discount your book is an excellent way to get it into the hands of new readers and generate buzz. Thanks to technology it's a lot easier to self-publish a book. Browse through any online retailer's website and you will see thousands of novels. Discounting your book will not only make it stand out on over-crowded digital shelves, it can also give you a head start on getting your book in physical stores. Here's how.

Getting Your Book into Local Bookstores and Retailers

Many authors think that the only way to get their book into bookstores is through the traditional publishing gateway. This is hardly the case. Many bookstores, especially smaller ones, are more than happy to support local authors. Some bookstores even have a dedicated section for hometown authors. All you have to do is ask. However, most bookstores will not be willing to buy your book from you. It's more likely that they'll want it to come from a distributor, like Ingram, from which they order all of their other books. Selling your book with a wholesale discount and making it returnable via a book distributor is the best route to getting your book on bookstore shelves.

Physical bookstores typically require a standard trade discount of 40% in order to consider purchasing and stocking a book. Bookstores require this discount because they need to be able to make money on the sale in order to justify stocking your title on their shelves. In order for bookstores to receive the standard discount when they buy from a wholesaler/distributor, such as Ingram, you must offer a 53% to 55% wholesale discount. If your book is priced at $15.00 and you set a 53% wholesale discount, the wholesale price of the book will be $7.05. That is the amount the bookstore will pay for the book. A wholesaler will keep a portion of that discount and pass along the rest to the bookstores ordering the book and retailers "may" pass along a discount to consumers. The cost to print your book (based on format choices you've made such as hardcover or paperback, black-and-white or premium color, page count, etc.) will be deducted from the $7.05 wholesale price, and you will be paid what is left over as your publisher earnings on that sale.

You may be thinking, "Hey, why would I set a discount that enables the bookstore to make more money than me on the sale?" but consider how many sales you might not achieve without the help of retailers. If you have an unlimited fan base that you know will purchase from you without fail and your own e-commerce and fulfillment, then offering a higher wholesale discount may not be necessary for you. The minimum wholesale discount you can offer with IngramSpark is 30%. But if you're like the majority of the population, more people visit their local bookstore or online retailer more often than they'll visit your author website or hand you cash for a copy, so you have to consider what that exposure is worth to you and where you do that is your wholesale discount. You promote your book and let people know what retailers they can purchase it from. The retailers handle the inventory, ordering, and selling of your book so that you can make what may end up being $3.00 on your $15.00 book, but it may be $3.00 you wouldn't have earned otherwise. And if your books sell through stores, stores place more orders, so multiple $3.00 sales could end up equaling more than the handful of $15.00 sales you may get if you try to do it all on your own. 

And if you think you'll offer a bookstore a 30% wholesale discount so that you get more and they get less, consider how many books they're asked to carry and how limited their shelf space is. A 30% wholesale discount is considered a short discount and is not typically a big enough incentive for a bookstore to purchase your book over another with a standard trade discount between 40% and 53%.

Use IngramSpark's Publisher Compensation Calculator to see what you'll earn per book sale with your wholesale discount factored in.

Discounted Books Online = More Readers

Unlike physical bookstores, online book retailers don't require authors to offer such a high wholesale discount because they aren't risking physical shelf space, like a physical retailer, if the book doesn't sell. Consider your primary sales strategy when setting your wholesale discount. Are you primarily focused on online retailers or getting your book into physical stores? As far as online retail discounts, you could consider running a price promotion, selling your book at a discounted price, as a book marketing technique to draw in new readers and gain a loyal following. Just seeing the red line that denotes a price drop will automatically draw a shopper’s eye to your book. Statistics show that a whopping 95% of bargain readers will purchase a book from an unknown author if it's offered at a deep discount. More than 60% of bargain book readers say that they have told their friends about promotional pricing, spreading the word even further.

...And More Revenue

Selling discounted books doesn't just garner new attention, it also allows you to make more in the long run. Many bargain book readers end up becoming loyal fans: 63% of readers reported they discovered an author through a price promotion and as a result of that initial purchase continued to read the author’s future works. What's more, 77% of these readers state that they are willing to pay full price for a book as well, meaning that authors can sell sequels at full price to loyal readers. Don't be afraid that your discounted books won't generate income, the deeper the discount, potentially the more books will sell. BookBub, a bargain book promoter, reported that authors who sold their books at an average of a 74% discount saw 196 times increase in revenue.

Keep in mind that discounting your book holds potential for future sales and is necessary to get you into physical bookstores. This is especially beneficial if you live in a small town or tourist area. Selling discounted books online helps maximize exposure, establish loyal readers, and in the long-term, increases your overall bottom line.


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IngramSpark Staff

Hi there! It's your friendly IngramSpark staff here, happily sharing a wealth of publishing knowledge with people from all walks of the self-publishing biz.