Leanpub pricing analysis

I am nearly at the point of publishing my eBook on Leanpub which has raised the question about how much I will price it at (it will be available free online in HTML form). There are two price points on Leanpub (minimum and suggested) and since I don’t go into these decisions lightly I thought I would do some analysis around existing titles to see what they set the price-points at.

One caveat is that I completely understand that it’s just as important to have a good product as worrying about its pricing as pricing alone doesn’t make a book good.

I wrote a quick watir-webdriver script (at the end of this post and online) to scrape the top 100 all time grossing and best-selling (volume) books off Leanpub and some data about each. One data point I would have loved to have seen on each book page was page count so I could correlate page count to price, but sadly it’s missing.

I put this into a google spreadsheet and did some analysis

Leanpub pricing analysis

What I can read about Leanpub pricing is:

  • Obviously, higher selling books are more likely to be available for free
  • The number of books with the same minimum and suggested prices are the roughly the same across the lists at about one quarter
  • The average non-free minimum price is slightly less for higher selling books, but roughly $12-$14
  • The average non-free suggested price is much higher for higher grossing books at roughly $19-$22, compared to $12-$14 for higher selling books

I did some further analysis of the raw data and a particular title stood out to me: ‘How to Do What You Love & Earn What You’re Worth as a Programmer‘. What made this stand out was it’s ranking at number 2 on number of copies sold (8191 copies), but just number 28 on gross revenue. Based upon the minimum price of $9.99, this translates into minimum revenue of $81,828.09. But this book is at number 28 on the earnings list, meaning that possibly 27 other books each earned more than $81,828.09. But there’s no a single book that has earned more than this book that has a minimum price times copies (or suggested price times copies for that matter), that is higher than this book. Which is very odd.

I know of two possible explanations, but I don’t know if either is true.

One is that this book once was free, or a lot cheaper than it’s current minimum price, which explains why it has sold many copies but (comparatively) grossed so little.

The second is that people who buy books on Leanpub pay a lot more than minimum or even suggested prices.

I think the first explanation is true but hope that it’s the second.

Here’s my script:

$: << File.dirname(__FILE__)+'/lib'

require 'book_list'
require 'watir-webdriver'

profile = Selenium::WebDriver::Firefox::Profile.new
profile['permissions.default.image'] = 2 #no images
browser = Watir::Browser.new :firefox, :profile => profile

book_list = BookList.new 'bestsellers', 'https://leanpub.com/most_copies_lifetime'

browser.goto book_list.url
browser.links(:class => 'book-link').each_with_index do |link, index|
  book_list.add_book link.text, link.href, index + 1

book_list.books.each do |book|
  browser.goto book.url
  book.min_price = browser.element(:css => 'span[itemprop="lowPrice"]').text
  book.suggested_price =  browser.element(:css => 'span[itemprop="highPrice"]').text
  if browser.strong(:text => /^This book has (\d+) readers!$/).exists?
    book.copies_sold = browser.strong(:text => /^This book has (\d+) readers!$/).text.match(/^This book has (\d+) readers!$/).captures.first

book_list.to_csv 'copies.csv'

require 'book'

class BookList

  attr_reader :name, :books, :url

  def initialize name, url
    @name = name
    @url = url
    @books = []

  def add_book name, url, rank
    @books << Book.new(name, url, rank)

  def to_csv filename
    File.open(filename, 'w') do |file|
      @books.each do |book|
        file.puts book.to_csv_string
class Book

  attr_reader :name, :url, :rank
  attr_accessor :min_price, :suggested_price, :copies_sold

  def initialize name, url, rank
    @name = name
    @url = url
    @rank = rank

  def to_csv_string

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.

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