Ebook Pricing Wars from a developer’s point of view

This guest blog originally appeared in the examiner.com on July 17th.  Nick Nebelsky and Teachers With Apps started corresponding with one another regarding the concept of educational app pricing and a whole conversation ensued. This is a topic well worth educating people about and we appreciate the share. Nick has an app being released in the next two weeks, so stay posted. Are you wondering about the price point? Please read this through to understand what goes into making an app.  Thanks, Nick!

I'm a full-time programmer/illustrator/writer/marketer/bottle washer. I make my living from creating and developing apps. There are several stages to an app:

  • conceptualization,
  • storyboarding,
  • writing, rewriting, editing, rewriting,
  • artwork creation (100-150 separate pieces of art),
  • animation and special effect thought process,
  • art direction,
  • then there's the coding, a lot of coding. Thousands and thousands of lines of code; many of which is developed specifically for our needs.
  • Then there's testing, testing, and more testing.
  • Then we have a week of beta testing where we send out our apps so that real people other than us can look at them.

If I were to itemize each of these steps into dollars, they would easily add up to $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the complexity of the app. It's a lot of work to fit into a two to three-month window. And I'm not even talking about marketing in both time and money.

Cut that amount to 4-6 weeks, and you have the makings of an ebook. Same amount of writing, maybe a third of the artwork. Cost maybe $2,500 for the cost.

Here's a big difference though. Cost vs. Price to you the customer. E-books are being sold on average for about $10 on the various sites. Same book, less interactivity on the ebook. Apps are thought to be "Expensive" if their prices are higher than $2.99. So why is it that it cost 4x more to produce an app where we as developers can only expect to receive one/tenth of what an e-book costs. The math is simple, right? So why are we creating apps and not e-books? Well I'm creating both and I'm makings apps not just for the iPad, but I'm making it for the Nook, and the Amazon Fire as well using Corona SDK. It's a lot more efficient and cost-effective, believe me!

And I'm not alone in this war. I recently emailed Jayne Clare, former app developer and currently a Special Education Teacher at Southampton Public Schools in the greater NYC area. She now runs the website: https://www.teacherswithapps.com/ She said, "It's very difficult to make money in the app store when you are practically giving away your product! Our biggest pet peeve was that your average educational app cost less than a cup of coffee." Why is there such hesitation by folks to pay $1.99 for an app, but will pay $4.00+ a day on coffee? When I figure that one out, I'll let you know. Then there's the flip side to what Jayne and I are saying, and that's from Will Terry who says he hopes that by charging less, he'll get more people interested in his work, so he's going for volume in the early phases of his business. Will Terry is already an accomplished artist who is just starting out in the app business. You can see his work at www.willterry.com.

Until the prices reverse, that's just how we have to play the market. I can't see how the small developer will be able to make it selling their apps for only $.99. I tried it and I don't see a difference in demand for a $.99 app and one that sells for $1.99. For me, there's a lot of trial and error. I play with pricing sometimes like I play with the stock market.

I'm hoping this month will be different though, as Barnes & Noble is putting together a promotion for apps that are produced this month for kids. And since that is my primary market, I have created a sweet little story that I hope will receive the promised marketing. I could sure use it! And until the price wars cease, I'll keep putting out the books I love to make that kid love to read. Until I see you again.

Nick Nebelsky is the Publisher of Intense Media, LLC based in Gilbert, AZ. He is a Corona Ambassador for Corona Labs out of Palo Alto and is a passionate developer of children's books and apps. "Sheldon's Adventures" is Nick's latest release co-written by Dr. Michael Perko, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Public Health Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Nebelsky expects the app to be published on the NOOK store in another two weeks, and on the iTunes store in three weeks. You can reach Nick at info@intensemedia.comor visit his website at www.intensemedia.com.

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1 Response

  1. Web address of that article about the blogger.
    http://mashable.com/2013/01/03/andrew-sullivan-daily-dish-third-million/

  2. […] This guest blog originally appeared in the examiner.com on July 17th. Nick Nebelsky and Teachers With Apps started corresponding with one another regarding the concept of educational app pricing and a whole conversation ensued. This is a topic well worth educating people about and we appreciate the share. Nick has an app being released in the next two weeks, so stay posted. Are you wondering about the price point? Please read this through to understand what goes into making an app.  Thanks Nick! I’m a full-time programmer/illustrator/writer/marketer/bottle washer. I make my living from creating and developing apps. There are several stages to an app: conceptualization, story boarding, writing, rewriting, editing, rewriting, artwork creation (100-150 separate pieces of art), animation and special effect thought process, art direction, then there’s the coding, a lot of coding. Thousands and thousands of lines of code; many of which is developed specifically for our needs. Then there’s testing, testing, and more testing. Then we have a week of beta testing where we send out our apps so that real people other than us can look at them. If I were to itemize each of these steps into dollars, they would easily add up to $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the complexity of the app. It’s a lot of work to fit into a two to three month window. And I’m not even talking about marketing in both time and money. Cut that amount to 4-6 weeks, and you have the makings of an ebook. Same amount of writing, maybe a third of the artwork. Cost maybe $2,500 for the cost.   Here’s the big difference though. Cost vs. Price to you the customer …  […]