BookBub recently presented exclusive survey data on the spending habits of bargain ebook buyers. One of the most interesting facts we discovered was that while these readers are cost conscious, the majority don’t exclusively purchase discounted titles; they buy more expensive, full-price books as well. But this posed another question: Do ebook price promotions cause bargain buyers to become more price sensitive over time?
One fear among authors and publishers is that discounts condition readers to expect lower prices, and that they therefore devalue content in the long term. Anecdotally, we’ve found this to be untrue. In fact, our partners regularly tell us that sales also increase on their full-price books during a promotion, and we know that many bargain buyers are loyal power readers who may purchase dozens or even hundreds of books a year.
But we wanted to look more closely at the data to be sure. We knew the date that all our survey respondents had subscribed to BookBub, so we could determine how long each reader had been receiving price promotions through our email. And in the survey, we asked respondents to tell us the highest price they had paid for an ebook in the past 12 months.
We then mapped maximum price against length of time subscribed:As the chart illustrates, the amount someone had paid for an ebook did not depend on how long they had been a BookBub subscriber. Those who had been members for over a year had an equally high price tolerance as those who signed up more recently. This suggests that discounts do not devalue content; if you’re someone who pays for full-price books, price promotions won’t make you less willing to do so.
We should note that our data doesn’t say anything about how many full-price ebooks someone buys. For example, a bargain buyer could always be willing to spend top dollar on a title, but still purchase fewer over time. However, if discounts truly impacted the value of a book, a reader’s price ceiling would also likely decline.
Lastly, because our data was collected through a voluntary survey, it’s possible that the responses could be skewed or otherwise biased (as is the case with all surveys). However, the survey’s large sample size and randomized nature makes this less likely.
Ultimately, our data suggests that discounts don’t decrease the value of a book. Instead, it illustrates that price promotions can be effective tools for not only increasing sales in the short term, but also for helping you gain readers who will buy your work over time.
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Click to tweet: Do price promotions cause bargain ebook buyers to become more price sensitive over time? http://bit.ly/1QFRA8q (Spoiler: No!)