The Age of Conversation – share your pricing strategy


About 8 weeks ago, Gavin Heaton and I conceived the Age of Conversation and put an ALL CALL out for chapter authors.  In less than 7 days, 106 people initially responded and 104 actually followed through and wrote a chapter.

We’re shooting for an end of June release (we’re knee-deep in editing, design and author wrangling as we speak) so we need to make some big decisions.  One of the biggest is price.

Here are the salient facts:

  • 104 authors – all writing on their take/unique view of the Age of Conversation
  • Remarkable content (you’re going to be delighted)
  • All original content (will not be released elsewhere for at least 6 months following launch)
  • All proceeds donated to Variety, the Children’s Charity (monies will be given directly to the countries that align with our authors when there’s a Variety chapter there)
  • Downloadable e-book
  • Dedicated to the life and spirit of CK’s mom, Sandra Kerley

So…help Gavin and me.  Tell us how much you think we should charge for the book and give us some rationale.  (We’ll take it all in and then make a decision.)  So, show us some pricing strategy smarts.

We’re listening and the comment box is open!

Here’s the stellar cast of authors (To help you valuate the book and to give them their due credit.)

Gavin Heaton
Drew McLellan
Valeria Maltoni
Emily Reed
Katie Chatfield
Greg Verdino
Mack Collier
Lewis Green
Ann Handley
Mike Sansone
Paul McEnany
Roger von Oech
Anna Farmery
David Armano
Bob Glaza
Mark Goren
Matt Dickman
Scott Monty
Richard Huntington
Cam Beck
David Reich
Mindblob (Luc)
Sean Howard
Tim Jackson
Patrick Schaber
Roberta Rosenberg
Uwe Hook
Tony D. Clark
Todd Andrlik
Toby Bloomberg
Steve Woodruff
Steve Bannister
Steve Roesler
Stanley Johnson
Spike Jones
Nathan Snell
Simon Payn
Ryan Rasmussen
Ron Shevlin
Roger Anderson
Bob Hruzek
Rishi Desai
Phil Gerbyshak
Peter Corbett
Pete Deutschman
Nick Rice
Nick Wright
Mitch Joel
Michael Morton
Mark Earls
Mark Blair
Mario Vellandi
Lori Magno
Kristin Gorski
Kris Hoet
Kofl Annan
Kimberly Dawn Wells
Karl Long
Julie Fleischer
Jordan Behan
John La Grou
Joe Raasch
Jim Kukral
Jessica Hagy
Janet Green
Jamey Shiels
Dr. Graham Hill
Gia Facchini
Geert Desager
Gaurav Mishra
Gary Schoeniger
Gareth Kay
Faris Yakob
Emily Clasper
Ed Cotton
Dustin Jacobsen
Tom Clifford
David Polinchock
David Koopmans
David Brazeal
David Berkowitz
Carolyn Manning
Craig Wilson
Cord Silverstein
Connie Reece
Colin McKay
Chris Newlan
Chris Corrigan
Cedric Giorgi
Brian Reich
Becky Carroll
Arun Rajagopal
Andy Nulman
Amy Jussel
AJ James
Kim Klaver
Sandy RenshawSusan Bird
Ryan Barrett
Troy Worman
S. Neil Vineberg
C.B. Whittemore

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48 comments on “The Age of Conversation – share your pricing strategy

  1. Connie Reece says:

    My suggestion: an even $10.

    1. That’s approx. 10 cents per author — an incredible bargain to get 400 words each from some of the top voices in marketing and social media. While I think the information is worth much more, a higher price will limit the number of sales.

    2. $10 represents a small contribution to charity — the kind most people would feel comfortable making even if they weren’t receiving something valuable in return.

  2. rishi says:

    I think a price of around $15 would be appropriate.

  3. Ann Handley says:

    The number that jumped in my head was $9.95. But I like the “10 cents per author” suggestion Connie has, above.

  4. CK says:

    I like keeping it at or under $10 so that people can afford it (I’m hoping that $10 US dollars is indeed an affordable price for anyone who wants to access the book’s teachings). It’s an important piece to get into as many people’s hands as possible (thanks again Drew & Gav!).

  5. I’m all for keeping it on the low end, in the $10 range. I don’t want to devalue it and I think at $100 it would be a steal (just a hunch, not having read every contribution), but I like the thought of making it affordable.

  6. Drew,
    Typically, I’m a fan of pricing things like this a bit more expensive, but given it is for a charity, I’d say let’s make it affordable. I’d vote for $15.


  7. Part of the pricing strategy is who’s doing the buying. If grads are buying, I’d go $9.95 … parents/family, then I’d pop to $14.95 and push hard on the fact that all proceeds go to benefits charity.

    Pay it now and your soon-to-be employed grad can pay it forward later.

  8. David Reich says:

    I don’t know what cost is involved to actually produce the book. If all revenues go to the charity, I’d opt for something in the $15 – $20 range. That way, we can end up with a meaningful total contribution, although any total amount will be meaningful since it’s from the heart.

  9. Nick Rice says:

    We can split the overall difference and go with $11.95. Is there a way to have an optional “Add Additional Donation” box that goes straight to the charity?

    I know that proceeds already go to charity, but people may want to go above and beyond while still getting a great deal on the book.

    Just my two cents…

  10. I agree with the 10.00 range. I assume we are talking US $ here? 10.00 has a higher percieved value than even 9.95 so stick with that.


  11. CK says:

    I guess my question is this: we want to definitely raise money for charity but what’s the intent of the piece? I think it’s to spread the message and engage more into this mindset/medium. So I think we can still raise great money for the charity by limiting any barriers (barriers being cost and time invested to read the great work). I want to be mindful of how much $10 US dollars is to other economies (thinking globally since we’re a small slice of the world). Plus, I really want this book to be in the hands of many students. I think $10 doesn’t present a large barrier, though I’m not sure. Many thanks for opening this to the crowd, guys.

  12. Joe Raasch says:

    I suggest we do what the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) does:

    “Suggested donation: $25.00”. You can get in for free if you wish, or give them $50.00, or the suggested $25.00. This is a pay-what-you-can model.

  13. Bob Glaza says:

    This will really show my knowledge of pricing strategy & smarts…$10(USD) sounds good 🙂 Excellent work everyone!

  14. mindblob says:

    Good point about the intent of the ebook. When thinking about charity, no price would ever be high enough. But when thinking about accessibility, worldwide, and to whoever might be interested inc. students, I’d say let’s keep it low. $10 US is a decent price indeed (more or less €7 Euro and a half).

    Then, hopefully the ebook will raise a lot of traffic to its home web page so I like Nick Rice’s idea (optional “Add Additional Donation” box). Would it make sense maybe, to do it also the other way around: offer the ebook to whoever donates to Variety more than $10 US dollars?

  15. I like Joe’s idea (it’s what I was thinking, too). Musician Jane Siberry does this for her music:

    Make 10 bucks the minimum (or suggested) then let folks decide if they want to pay more, since it all goes to charity.

  16. Toby says:

    I love Connie’s idea of 10 cents per author along with an opportunity for additional contributions .. especially if one of our goals is to encourage multiple purchases.

    Will there be a way to send a code to people for downloading if they “gift” the book?

  17. Mark Goren says:

    I’m liking the $10 to $12 range with the option to give more.

    I think when people see what 100 people have contributed to, they’ll get the idea and join in generously.

    Or maybe I’m just an idealist..

  18. I like the $10 tag for accessibility, and LOVE the concept of promoting the children’s charity in a ‘$10 or above’ donation category with ‘suggested check boxes’ ($15, $20, $25, Other) In the nonprofit world, we’ve found that people give more when they’re not mandated or strong-armed, and they often self-select out of ‘guilt’ not wanting to give at the lowest level!

    As for furthering the blog dialogue, it might be nice to set up a UGC ‘blog back’ area positioned as a “penny for your thoughts” commentary for folks to weigh in on any of the chapters; agree/disagree, offer their own views or get to know the authors and their sites better.

    One way we could do this is to run it through a free social networking site like where we’re all globally connected to each other, yet also have our own customizable profile and ‘personal bulletin board’ if people are interested in a particular area of expertise etc. (we do this with Andy Carvin’s pbs crew of educators at the ‘Stop Cyberbullying’ Ning site, if you want to see how it works) Fun!

    Thanks to you all for making this happen. Next step is to bind it via and sell it on Amazon!! Best, Amy

  19. Oh! One more great resource for creating hardbound “blog books” with very cool software design if we don’t want it all e-book downloads: (e.g. a ‘coffee table’ book format to keep out and about at Variety’s Children’s Charity headquarters)

  20. I like the idea of $10.00, so that makes it easy to go with the majority.

    Keeping the price low not only makes it accessible and appealing, it makes selling easier next time around. Now, that’s assuming there will be a next time, and this could (and maybe should?) very well become an annual thing.

  21. Janet Green says:

    Drew, Gavin and all, I personally am an impulse buyer and $10 US is an amount I’d spend without batting an eye. At $20, I’d think a little harder. I’d also take advantage of a “give more if you wish” option if it was a charity I wanted to support. (Which Variety certainly is.) So I’ll 2nd or 3rd or 20th that suggestion – $10 base price, with option to give more if one should wish. Thanks for all your hard work putting this together – it was a joy to participate! Also, just wondering if the site will accept PayPal as an option for payment? This would allow credit cards to be taken without having to use someone’s merchant account, and would likely increase sales, especially for my fellow impulse shoppers! 🙂
    ~ Janet

  22. David Armano says:

    I say 12.00 because anything under 10.00 feels cheap. I was originally going to say less so people would buy in large quantities—but the fact is that some folks may distribute digitally even if they aren’t supposed to.

    $12.00 seems right to me. Not too expensive and not cheap.

  23. After reading all the other comments, I vote for a perfect 10! ($10)

    I like the idea of giving people the option to donate more. This entire project is about generosity and giving — let’s see how what amazing ripple effects are created by this.

    CK made a really great point that I keep thinking about. In response to making this book more accessible worldwide, is there a way to provide an option for people who can afford it to buy a copy of the book for someone who cannot? $10USD can be a lot in some parts of the world.

    I picture this: an additional button on the site that says “Buy A Book For Someone in Need”.

    I have no idea of how to distribute these extra copies or how to determine who should get them; this might be too complicated. Perhaps some organization has already done something like this, and we could see how they do it? (Hmmm, I’ll start researching now…I’ll be reporting back soon.)

  24. Faris says:

    10 bucks feels right for an ebook – as above I feel this will allow people to make an impulse decision, which will hopefully to much higher conversion of the noise we’re all going to make about it once it launches ;-p

    Possibly do a Seth G and give a couple of chapter tasters away for free?

    But also really like the idea of higher donation thresholds – perhaps we can offer some additional benefit for higher donations. So, a blurb hard back edition might be one for a higher price point.

    And then, if people, organisations whatever were willing to donate / purchase at a higher price point still, perhaps we can again offer some additional value – like say you can ask any of the authors a question and expect a cogent, thought out reply?

    Or perhaps even a community built around the book that people could get access to, that includes all the authors.

    Or something.

    Because people are inevitably going to distribute some copies around their organisations, and perhaps that’s a good thing – the further the idea spreads, the more people it touches, the more donations Variety should eventually see.

    At least I hope that’s how it works ;-p

  25. Another question: Is this price for the e-book or the print book? Usually the e-book is cheaper than the print book version. Then if there’s a hard-cover version in addition to the paper-back version, the hard-cover is more expensive, etc.

    How much does the book have to be in order to cover the cost of printing (at Lulu or another place, etc.)? The e-book can be less expensive because those costs don’t have to be covered, but the print versions should be high enough so that printing/shipping costs are covered and so that Variety still gets a nice chunk for the donation! (For the print book, include the cost break-out of how much goes to the cost of printing/shipping and how much goes to the Variety donation on the check-out page).

    Another thought related to Faris’s comment: free = viral = good for getting the message out. I like the idea of a few free promo chapters (or some other incentive) to get this spread that Faris mentions above. It may drive traffic to purchasing the entire thing (in addition to it being for a great cause).

    Since this is also a donation, will the site provide info for how much is tax deductible? It’s an extra incentive to be able to deduct this as a charitable donation.

    Alright, I’m done now. 😉

  26. All –

    Keep the ideas, rationale and questions coming. It’s a great discussion so far.

    A couple quick answers…

    We are talking e-book only now but will be exploring a pritned version too.

    Yes…we’ll allow for paypal, I’m sure. Seems the easiest way to take credit cards.

    Okay…shutting up again and going to back into listening mode.


  27. A collection of short stories from the UK blogosphere is priced at a tad under £9 on Lulu – that’s about 18 of your USD. Considering that your prime audience for this will be readers of your blog and associates in the marketing/business world and assuming that the general rule of thumb is that we’re lucky buggers and earn more than the average Joe, how abou a round £20?? It is for charity, it’s damn good stuff too (we hope). Be brave. What’s $20? 4 lattes at starbucks, 4 pints of beer? Bargain

  28. Nathan says:

    I personally like the $10 mark. I think it’s a complete bargain, I also like the ability to donate more (although when it comes to poor college students like myself, more isn’t too much 🙁 ).

    One thing to touch on that others have mentioned is that part of the point of this book, apart from charitable cause, is to show a new age- so we want it to spread.

    What of having something where those who donate at least $5 (or any amount) more get another copy of the eBook. I think it may encourage others to donate a little more while also giving the book a greater chance to spread. $10 for yourself, $15 is /really/ for others both in the sense of a gift to a friend and because it all goes to charity.

  29. I like the .10 cents per author for 10 bucks. But I do also like Cam’s idea for a enterprise license for companies to be able to buy and share.

  30. I’m sorry, one other thought… We could look into a print on demand service like for people who would want to pay and print the book. This could add a great deal more money for the charities. Just a thought.

  31. CK says:

    Guys, as of 2005, here are some good figures on GNI per capita (gross nat’l income) on various continents all in USD for an easier comparison:

    Greece: $19,840
    Oman: $9,070
    Mexico: $7,310
    US: $43,560
    Canada: $32,590
    Brazil: $3,550

    I vote for a more tenable price for the world at: $10. See, ten dollars USD isn’t the same everywhere, even accounting for lower costs of living. I believe we can sell enough volume to make for a terrific donation to Variety (and we’ll face a lower barrier to spread the book’s important message ;-). All the above are wired countries, be it in-home or in-school or both.

  32. Lori Magno says:

    I agree with the $10 pricetage for the many reasons above – but if we want to go further, I’m in love with $12.95. I have no idea why. Cheers all!

  33. OK. I’m reporting back on an idea I said I’d research in a comment I left above.

    RE: figuring out a way to buy a book for someone in need.

    After some Internet research, I can’t find any other organization that has set up something like this. After reading Connie’s and Roberta’s emails about how complicated donation rules can get, that probably explains why.

    A solution: if someone wants to buy a book for someone “in need”, they can do so on their own. Or if some generous souls want to buy some copies for organizations who could get these into the hands of people who can’t afford it, they can also do this on their own.

    If individuals authors/book purchasers buy books to donate on their own, it also keeps things much more simple for EVERYONE involved. — Drew and Gavin, I bet the emails alone for this are taking up a ton of your time. 😉

    OK, that’s a wrap.

  34. $10 sounds appropriate. Amazing discussion.

  35. $10 feels right for an ebook, with the option to donate more being a nice touch.

    $20 for a hard copy would be a nice touch too, and perhaps finding a nice POD place that could do hard covers for $35 or so.

    I like round numbers. Just seems more honest to me than .99

    Thanks for your hard work on this Gavin and Drew, and all the authors! Now the fun part begins!

  36. Graham Hill says:

    Here is my two-penneth for the record.

    Seth Godin wrote a brilliant post entitled ‘You Should Write an eBook’ – – on his eponymous blog. He describes some of the factors behind the success of his ‘Unleashing the IdeaVirus’ book – – a few years ago. The Ideavirus started out as an eBook which Seth wanted to give away for free. His publishers initially balked at the idea. But he did it anyway. After one day, 3,000 copies had been downloaded and with each passing day this number grew by topsy. Eventually, over 2,000,000 copies were downloaded. The viral buzz surrounding the book drove the hardcopy to No5 on (at US$14.00 today) and numerous translations.

    Assuming that first, we want the book to spread like an Ideavirus (so that it gets read as much as possible) and that second, we want to make money for charity (through it being sold), I would vote for giving the eBook away for free via the Age of Conversation website, but pricing the hardcopy at US$9.95 (price points do work) through the usual on-line channels like Amazon. Few people are going to buy from a hard-to-find, unknown, unsecure website in these security-conscious times. I wouldn’t! Not even for charity.

    Another interesting ploy is to embark on a 40 cities in 40 days tour to publicise the book like Ben O’Connell and Jackie Huba did with their ‘Citizen Marketers’ book. They describe the background and findings to their book tour in a post ‘Lessons From a 40 Date Book Tour’ entitled – on their Church of The Customer blog. This was a great way to get in front of thousands of people, to get them to buy thousands of books and to drive up their blog readership significantly.

    As Duncan Watts reports in a recent article on ‘Viral Marketing for the Real World’ – – it is not enough to rely upon viral buzz to get an idea moving (and to make those sales for charity). Unless you are Seth Godin that is. Mere mortals like the rest of us need a combination of old-fashioned promotional push, combined with viral pull and recommendation tools to achieve the desired effects.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

  37. RyanB says:

    Wow – ask 100 bloggers a question, and you’re likely to get 100 lengthy answers right back atcha! LOL.

    Here’s my response: $10.

  38. Charge $5 for the eBook.

    Authors should get a free copy.

  39. Whatever you do Drew, DO NOT ask us to help you screw in a light bulb! 🙂

  40. I think the $10 price range seems reasonable.

    Personally, I’m not concerned about getting a free copy. My justification? I’ve already received significantly more publicity through links and discussions than $10, and I don’t mind investing $10 in the project myself.

    I think buying copies for clients or colleagues is a good opportunity for sales from the authors. Pricing starts to get complicated with pricing tiers or enterprise use, etc, so my thoughts are too keep it simple at a fixed rate.

    The reality is that once someone purchases the ebook, and depending on what if any security is incorporated (I would say no security, just a simple PDF), readers can forward the book to their friends. Some people will donate to the cause, and some people won’t, but I think that providing a “donate to cause” option would also be nice.

    The difference I see between this and the Godin book is that he was also using it as a promotions vehicle in addition to a revenue generator. Therefore, he has probably received a significant amount of indirect returns on the ebook he gave away, in several forms such as the amount of press it got. I think this is different because this is for charity vs. any of the authors receiving direct payment. Don’t get me wrong, I think Seth is brilliant, it was just a different situation.

  41. Great discussion everyone — thank you. Keep the ideas coming, if you have them.

    A couple things to remember:

    ~ With 104 authors and no one making a single penny off this effort, tactics like a book tour are probably a time and logistical challenge that seems almost undoable.

    ~ While seeding the marketplace with free books was brilliant for Seth — he used the e-book as a free sample to sell other things. We don’t have other things. This book is it. So factor that in as you discuss the freemium model.

    Keep talking…


  42. Jamey Shiels says:

    From an email I sent…

    As a point of comparison, Here is a link to an e-book, thought leadership by design, that is priced at $12.

    It’s a collection of writing from various individuals. With the content we’re presenting along with the cause that is motivating the activity, we would be well within the “tipping point” to charge $10 – $15 and make this a very desirable item for purchase. I have a feeling the content and imagery in the piece Drew and Gavin are compiling is equally compelling if not more so.

    Also, the book tour is an interesting idea. With a 100 authors, we should look to create opportunities to “promote” the book in our local markets and catalog the events or activities on the books site.

  43. Graham Hill says:


    I think we DO have other things to sell: We have blogs that we want people to read, some of us have books that we want people to read and many of us have consultancies that we want people to use.

    At the risk of sounding like a meanie, I did not write a chapter in the book to generate money for charity; that was a secondary benefit. I wrote a chapter to get my ideas in print, to raise my awareness and hopefully, to sell other things through the magic of social marketing. I suspect that many of the other authors did the same.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t take the charitable side of the bargain seriously, in fact I will happily buy five copies at between US$10-12.50 each to give to clients, should the book be available as a bound hard copy.

    If we think about the outcome that we want to achieve, whether more social marketing for ourselves or more charitable giving, both are inextricably bound up in getting the book as widely seen, bought and recommended as possible. Seth Godin’s Ideavirus book IS a great example of how we could do this.

    Graham Hill

  44. All,

    Isn’t it interesting how a collaborative project takes on different faces and how everyone prescribes their own goals/vision as an overlay to the original description and intent.

    I think the fact that there are dollars involved — even though we aren’t going to get any ourselves also created a new dynamic.

    All fascinating stuff and good input/feedback for Gavin and me. Thanks for speaking up — keep them coming if you’ve got more thoughts.

    Gavin is away on a short holiday so I’ll need to give him time to catch up on all of this before he and I can get together to make a decision.



  45. Sacrum says:

    I miss all the chatting! Is late? Can I still talk the talk and walk it too? I is saying that 10 of your bucks is good. It has warmness.


  46. A few people (hey Tony) suggested a minimum price – $10 along with making sure there’s a donation option nearby so that people can give more. Making it clear to everyone that all proceeds go to charity, I would think you’d have many folks wanting to give more. Yet you don’t handcuff people.

  47. Your feedback and take on all of this is very helpful. Please keep teh conversation going, if you are so inclined!


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