I was doing a little chest beating last week, talking to my brother on the phone and telling him about Eyewall’s success on as the “Kindle Daily Deal.” On October 11, the Seattle-based retail giant dropped the price of Eyewall’s eBook edition to 99¢ for the day. And faster than you could shout “Fire sale!” the novel blazed to number 1 on the paid Kindle list. Even after the bargain period expired, the book remained in the top ten for three days.

My brother, Rick, wanted to know what the normal retail price of the eBook was. (Obviously, he doesn’t own a Kindle or Nook.)

“$12.95,” I said, “but on it typically goes for $8.99 [currently $7.99]. It’s a bit higher on Barnes &”

“Wow,” Rick said, “that much?”

“Whaddaya mean, That much? The trade paperback version retails for $14.95. And most eBooks are less than half the price of their hardback counterparts, if they have one.” I’d never thought of $8.99 as being a particularly onerous price to ask for a book.

“I know, I know,” Rick said, “but all you’re doing is downloading a digital file. How expensive can that be?”

“Whoa, hold on there, bro’. What about all the effort that went into producing that digital file? I mean, what about me? Don’t you think I deserve some remuneration for my time and talent?”

“Talent?” Rick said, incredulity ringing in his voice. Brothers, especially ones you love, can get away with saying things like that.

“Okay, talent issue aside, I’m sorry I can’t churn out a novel in a couple of weeks, but there are hundreds of hours of effort invested in Eyewall and most other books.”

“Well, yeah–”

“And what about my agent, and the editors, copy readers, cover designers, and PR and marketing people who work for my publisher? Their efforts are no less for an eBook than for a traditional book.”

“But still–”

I was on a roll. “I’ll grant you,” I said, “that some of the overhead needed for dead-tree tomes is missing–like printing, packaging, distribution, warehousing, and managing returns–but even digital books need formatting and quality control.”

Brother Rick folded under my rhetorical onslaught. But what should he care? He doesn’t have an eReader and I give him copies of all my books for free.

I just wanted to make my point with him: When you purchase an eBook, you’re downloading a heck of a lot more than just a digital file.

-October 17, 2011-

Image: My brother Rick and me in Phoenix a couple of years ago. Apparently, we’re partial to blue shirts.


  1. John Michalak on October 17, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Hi Buzz!
    Curious. How many ebooks did you sell @ $8.99 and how many @ $.99?

    John M

  2. Buzz Bernard on October 18, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Hi John,
    The real answer is, "I don't know." Only my publisher may know for sure. Even on my royalty statement I get only totals, not day-by-day breakdowns. Obviously, my book will sell more copies at $.99 than at $8.99. On the day of the Deal, when EYEWALL hit #1, my editor/PR lady estimates that 5000 units were downloaded. But it's only an estimate. Since then, the book has remained in the top 100, so it's still selling pretty well; I just don't know how well. But not 5000 copies/day.

  3. Brother Rick on October 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Well. . . I'm stuck further back in the 20th century then my OLDER brother, but understand that I'm quite comfortable with my beta video tape player and 33 RPM records, although the new supplies of titles does seem to be drying up. . . wonder why that is?

  4. Susan Haughton on October 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I downloaded Eyewall at .99 and after reading it, will happily pay more for your future books. I read it in one sitting – could not go to bed last night until I finished it. It was just terrific!

    The inexpensive and free books on Amazon have introduced me to authors of which I have previously been unaware. I usually go the library because I read so much, but now that I have started downloading books at a more affordable price (we typically do not wait for paperbacks for our favorite authors, so $8 or so for a book is quite a savings ) it is the best of all worlds, allowing us to stay within our budget while purchasing books.

    Hope you have more weather thrillers on the way!!!

  5. Burt on October 25, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Enjoyed the book. Good writing. Check out for info on sales.

  6. Buzz Bernard on October 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks, Susan and Burt. Glad you enjoyed the book. Even after peaking at #1 on the Kindle list more than 2 weeks ago, EYEWALL has hung in there in the top 500.

    Novel number two, title TBD, should be out in less than a year; in the meantime, I've completed the initial draft of the first five chapters of number three, SUPERCELL.

  7. Ellen Stucker on November 13, 2011 at 12:31 am

    What a terrific book. Deb Dixon, your publisher, is a member of the River City Romance Writers group with me, and she alerted us to your Kindle Daily Deal price of $.99. Best buck I ever spent. I can't wait to buy all future books, seriously. You did cost me two nights of sleep, I might add. Pls. keep writing these weather-related thrillers. "Supercell" sounds terrific. You are a formidable talent, Buzz.

Leave a Comment