Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Some e-Books Priced Higher Than Hardcovers

Monday had a couple of interesting items in the news.

Publishers Weekly's "Morning Report" pointed me to a New York Times article highlighting two cases where best-selling hardcover novels have been priced cheaper by Amazon than the corresponding e-book edition:
... "Fall of Giants" by Ken Follett ... was published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, last week. On, the price for the e-book was $19.99; the hardcover edition was $19.39 ... Or “Don’t Blink,” by James Patterson and Howard Roughan, whose publisher, Little, Brown & Company, charged $14.99 for the e-book. Amazon priced the hardcover at $14.
Understandably those consumers who purchased a Kindle electronic reading device under the impression that they would be buying best-selling e-books for $9.99 were a mite testy. However, Amazon seems to be doing a good job of directing customers' hostility away from the company.

Remember Amazon is free to set the price of the hardcovers, which they've acquired via the traditional bookselling model. However, when it comes to e-books, Amazon was forced to sign agency model contracts with the publishers, which give the publishers the right to set the e-book prices.

I was actually a bit surprised to see how well readers seemed to grasp the nuances of the traditional model versus the agency model. I sort of expected generalized anger directed toward both the bookseller and the publisher. The New York Times' article probably had something to do with the more targeted reaction. And, of course, Amazon was right there, offering a helpful finger, pointing readers toward the ones whom the company believes are the true villains of the piece.

If you go here on Amazon to review the listing for Don't Blink, you'll find Amazon has added a disclaimer below the publisher's name:
Print List Price: $27.99
Kindle Price: $14.99 & includes wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: $13.00 (46%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group
This price was set by the publisher
The Amazon manuever seems to be effective. If you scroll down that page to the comments, you'll find many potential readers directing their ire to the author and the publisher rather than to Amazon.
From Frank: I would love to read this book, but I have no intention of paying more for an e-book than a hard copy. There is no business model, rational, debate, fact, etc. that can prove to me it costs more to publish an e-book than it does to layout, print, bind, box-up, ship, handle, receive, unload, un-box, store, shelve, ring-up, and bag a hard copy book. Until the publisher figures this out, I'll wait for the used version.


From Jen: I refuse to purchase this book IN ANY FORMAT until the publisher lowers the e-book price.

It's time for them to come to terms with the technology.


From: MBR: Today it is ebooks, tomorrow, the world, do not buy this e book until the greed is stopped (not on the part of Amazon who is a victim as they single handedly built the e book market; if you don't believe me look at the state of e books pre-Kindle).

Who are the publishers kidding. An e book cost them ZERO in materials; zero for transport, zero in taking it back if it does not sale. Yet they want to fleece us.

AMERICA show some self control and let it stay there until the price is fare.
It's even worse over at Ken Follett's Fall of Giants' comment stream. While 54 readers have rated the e-book five stars, 184 people have given it one star--mostly because of the pricing issue.

To paraphrase Dr. Phil, "Hey, New York, how's that agency model pricing deal working for you guys?"

Read the New York Times article here.

We'll talk about the other article relating to Amazon tomorrow.


Liane Spicer said...

I've been trying to figure out the rationale behind the lunatic pricing and I finally think I've found it. Few if any readers will pay inflated prices for the e-books so maybe the houses think they're protecting paper book sales this way.

Maya Reynolds said...

Liane: The thing they're missing is that a reader will move along to another book altogether and not buy either edition.