What Can Dynamic, Demand-Driven eBook Pricing Models Do For You? Karol Gajda Explains.

Note: I’m pleased to feature this interview with entrepreneur Karol Gajda as part of the Winning Edits Expert Interview Series.

Gajda is co-founder of the dynamically priced eBook store OnlyIndie, the world’s first in that category.

And he sometimes shares too much personal information at karol.gajda.com.

Matt Gartland: You founded OnlyIndie upon a dynamic, demand-driven pricing model for ebooks. What do you find compelling about this model, and where did you gain inspiration for it?

Karol Gajda: I tested a similar model in March of 2010. I wrote an eBook about my traveling lifestyle and started the sale at $0.00. The price rose 10 cents after every sale. By the end of 24 hours I had sold 132 units and made about $900. It didn’t hit me until more than a year later to create an outlet for selling eBooks in a similar style. Of course, we start at $0 then go up 1 penny after every sale, but the general idea is similar.

MG: What has been the response to OnlyIndie by both the authors that publish through it and by the readers that purchase from it?

KG: Readers generally love the idea across the board because it’s a fun way to buy from indie authors and support indie work. Most authors like the idea as well, but authors are a little bit more difficult to convince of using a new sales channel. Once they’ve come around we’ve had good feedback.

MG: To many authors, publishers and industry analysts, ebook pricing is a race to the bottom. Do you find this logic flawed? If so, why?

KG: I don’t think it’s a race to the bottom, but there is a lot of disconnect with eBook vs print pricing. For example, when an eBook costs more than a print book. That’s idiocy on the part of whoever sets the pricing (whether the publisher or the store).

That’s actually the beauty of OnlyIndie. Nobody can claim to know the perfect price for an eBook (or anything else for that matter). There’s an indelible saying that “something is only worth what someone will pay for it.” That’s our model: We put the power in the hands of readers. They vote with their dollars. And readers are happy to support authors of good work if it’s on their own terms. What I mean by that is consumers prefer DRM-free content. Doing anything else is asking for the same trouble the music industry got itself into.

MG: What are your hopes for the state of publishing given all the disruption in the industry? What big trends are you paying attention to?

KG: I feel like we’re in similar situation as the music industry was about 10 years ago. Nobody knows exactly where things are headed. Some are excited. Some are scared. Anybody trying to hold onto the way things were is going to get lost in the fray. Those who embrace the present and the future will have an easier, or at least less stressful, go of it.

MG: What’s the #1 piece of actionable advice you’d give to indie authors confused about ebook pricing strategies and available outlets?

KG: Worrying about pricing is less important than building an audience.

More specifically, building an e-mail list of your fans and engaging with them regularly. And this is why signing up for exclusive contracts with eBook stores is very short-sighted. Sure, you might profit a bit more now, but will that store be in your corner in the future? No. They’re not even in your corner now.

To answer your question more specifically: If you’re confused about pricing it’s easy enough to test different price points and see what works best for your particular niche. There is no sense in speculating the best price for your eBook when you can easily test. $0.99 for 2 weeks, $1.99 for 2 weeks, $2.99 for weeks, and so on.