AmazonEncore, J.A. Konrath, and the $2.99 eBook

"Shaken" by J.A. KonrathAmazonEncore announced this week that they’ll be releasing Shaken by J.A. Konrath. The ebook will come out in October, and in an interesting twist the paperback will follow four months later. According to Konrath: “It’s easier to release an ebook than a print book. Print books require printing, shipping, warehousing, pre-orders from bookstores, etc.”

Shaken is the seventh novel in the Jack Daniel’s mystery series by Konrath. The previous six books were published by Hyperion, which dropped its entire mystery line including this series. Apparently Shaken is a bit of a departure for AmazonEncore as it will be the first entirely new title that they publish. The recent imprint instead focuses on publishing books already available on Kindle, either those by new authors or re-releases from traditional publishers that have since gone out of print.

Konrath has long been a proponent for authors to self publish their back list, and he’s documented his own growing stream of revenue on his blog. According to his most recent post on the subject, his self-published titles on Kindle are now generating a staggering $472 per day. That works out to an annualized income of over $120,000 assuming that no books at all are sold over the weekend, an unlikely scenario considering when readers use Kindles most–all this from books that traditional publishers passed on.

As for the Shaken deal with AmazonEncore, while Konrath is bypassing a traditional publisher, his agent has been involved every step of the way. On his blog, he frequently encourages new writers to take their lumps, put in the effort, and hone their writing chops until they land an agent to champion their work–and he often takes some heat for it due to his own experiences with self publishing.

This success and his sometimes outspoken blog on the traditional publishing industry makes Konrath a no-brainer choice for AmazonEncore. It’s an interesting partnership. As part of the deal, Amazon gets to sell an original title in an established series for only $2.99. (The paperback version, when available, will sell for $10.17.) This super low price is one of the hallmarks of Konrath’s other Kindle titles. He’s extensively tested different prices, and found that low prices drive enough incremental sales to grow overall revenue. He can prove this with the fact that he’s making a killing off of books that New York publishers didn’t want.

There’s no question that Amazon will use this as a case study to show publishers that their concerns over low ebook prices and windowing are baseless, if in fact that turns out to be the case with this book. At just $2.99 a pop, this new title isn’t in the ballpark of the $9.99 price that was so hotly contested, and not even in the same universe as the $27 hardback price, where it would be if it had gone the traditional route.

Ironically, Hyperion will likely to see a boost to their Kindle sales for the earlier books in the series, though they may have trouble explaining why these older titles are priced at two to three times the cost of the latest book. Konrath will also will also likely see his self publishing numbers grow at an even faster rate. It’s far from chump change. More than a few established midlist writers must be taking a second look at those manuscripts they have filed away in a drawer somewhere.


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