Clever Book Pricing Tactics That Drive Sales

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Understanding your personal buyer behavior is at the core of predicting customer decision-making. Take a moment to consider your own thought process when purchasing a book, you’ll consider: book reviews, the title, genre, the book cover and the author’s reputation. Once a book has ticked all of these boxes for you, you will then look at the price. It is important that you don’t neglect this part of the process as it contributes just as much to consumer decision-making as the features of the book itself.

Because the price of a book has such a large impact on your potential readers’ decision-making process; it will be helpful for you to explore how psychological pricing can influence your own sales. Psychological pricing is a marketing strategy which uses the knowledge of human psychology to manipulate the way consumers perceive price, in order to maximize sales. For instance; if I were in a candy shop and all the chocolate bars were $1 except one, which was priced at $0.99, I will immediately be drawn to the $0.99 bar, regardless of how minuscule the price difference is. This isn’t necessarily just because the price is lower; psychological pricing taps into different aspects of the human mind to convince us that we are getting a lower price, a better price, the best price possible, or a bargain for something that should be priced higher.

Marketers are constantly fooling their buyer’s perceptions of their pricing, and I will be exposing all of their secrets throughout this article.

You may be thinking, “That’s never fooled me”, but I assure you, it has.

In today’s society we are too busy or distracted to notice anything trying to deceive our subconscious. Think about how you behave in a shop: are you usually gossiping with your friend, or flicking through Facebook on your smart phone? Maybe you’re usually in a rush, or in the middle of a phone call? Whatever the reason is, we don’t always pay full attention to tiny details around us. Terrible news for consumers, but excellent news for sellers.

So how do your consumers interpret your price tag?

Invisible numbers

Because we read numbers left to right, we will always place more importance on numbers left of the decimal point. This means that you can get away with putting the highest possible value (99) after the decimal point and customers will still deem this value irrelevant.

Of course, we know that $4.99 is pretty much $5, but the emotional part of our subconscious won’t register it that way.

It can also be helpful to have the numbers after the decimal point smaller than the number on the left, making them appear even less important.



Think meal deals

Selling a collection of products as one package with a slight discount off the unit price is called ‘Bundling’. Bundling is very effective at helping customers to justify their decision to make a purchase, and encouraging customers to buy more than one item.

So for example, if you have several books for sale for $10 each, you might offer customers “3 for $25”.

Be free!

Just saying the word “free” implies that there is no downside or risk. Even though the rational side of our brains understands that this free offer is part of a greater plan, our emotional brain hears the word “free” and jumps up and down with joy.

Consider offering free trials on your ebooks, letting your customers read your first few chapters for free. You can also have buy one get one free offers, or offer free gifts with purchases.

Smaller in comparison

A common marketing technique is referred to as anchoring. ‘Anchoring’ uses relative values of comparable products to raise the perceived bargain of your original product.

Let’s say you have a book on sale for $29; a consumer may perceive this as quite extortionate. However, if you release a “special edition” book for $59, you will see a notable rise in sales of the original, because it looks like a bargain in comparison to the more expensive item.

The magic number

Walk into any high street store and you will be bombarded by prices ending in 99; this is no coincidence.

This effect is called price charming, as it makes the customer feel as if they are receiving a bargain. This tends to work with any prices that contain 9’s. For example; if a product costs $9, customers will assume it is worth $10 and feel like they’ve caught a bargain. Paying $11, still feels like the product is only worth $10; and so the consumer will feel as if they are over-paying.

Looks are important

In our mind, physical magnitude equates to numerical magnitude, regardless of how little sense that makes to our rational brain. Many marketers make harmful decisions of presenting lower priced items in large bold lettering. Lower priced items should be presented in the same, or smaller, font as the rest of your products.

Another technique is to take away the zeros after a decimal point. Instead of having $19.00, simply have $19. This immediately makes the price appear smaller.

Other tricks

  • Random prices such as $12.34, convince the customer that the you’re offering the cheapest price you possibly can.
  • Make shipping free. Think about how you shop on Ebay or Amazon, even if the product is only $0.99, paying $3 for postage and packaging will make you think twice about your purchase. It is definitely more effective to add the postage price onto the price of the product and just mark the postage and packaging as free.
  • Don’t go too low. If your product is unbelievably low priced, people will wonder why.
  • Don’t make your customers do math, they won’t. Instead of saying “25% off” say “$17 off”. Instead of saying “half price off two items”, say “buy one get one free”.

Once you know roughly where you want to price your book, applying these tactics is a very easy process; yet it is one that can be central to increasing profitability.

However, how to choose your book price when starting out is a decision that needs thorough consideration and planning. If your rough price band is way off the mark (for example selling something worth $20 for $60), these tactics will be completely ineffective.

How do you go about pricing your books? Do you know of any more techniques? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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