Book pricing datapoints of the day

By Felix Salmon
November 18, 2010

When a big new book comes out, the publisher has two choices. It can allow Amazon to sell the Kindle edition at a much lower price than the hardback, increasing the number of copies sold but possibly cannibalizing hardback sales. Alternatively, it can force Amazon to charge a high price for the Kindle edition, garnering a passive-aggressive note on the website saying “This price was set by the publisher.”

The result looks something like this. All the Devils are Here, published by Penguin Portfolio, is $16.99 on the Kindle; Decision Points, published by Crown, is $9.99. And in return for allowing Amazon to subsidize the Kindle price, it seems that Crown has agreed not to sell the book in Apple’s iBook store:

All the Devils are Here Decision Points
List price $32.95 $35.00
Amazon price $17.50 $18.77
Amazon sales rank 7 1
Kindle price $16.99 $9.99
Kindle sales rank 16 1
iBook price $16.99 N/A
Audiobook price $20.98 $26.25

And here’s the tag cloud for the Kindle edition of All the Devils are Here:

tags.tiff

It’s easy to overstate how representative the vocal protestors are, but it’s certainly clear that e-book buyers are price-sensitive. Has an e-book priced at more than $10 ever made it to the top of the Kindle bestseller list?

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