Amazon

The Price Difference Between Book and Kindle Prices on Amazon

Price Difference Between Book and Kindle Prices on Amazon

Since my last post about Amazon, where I found a price disparity between two versions of the same Kindle book, my interest in e-book pricing and publishing has been rekindled (no pun intended) and I spent a bit of time putting together a few numbers to illustrate the instability of pricing models in the world of e-books.

My method was simple: take a look at the top 10 books in specific genres, curated by Amazon, and record the book price and the e-book price of each book on the list.

Here are a few notes I should mention:

  • Price selection: I decided to grab the cheapest Amazon price I could find for the physical copy of the book, as well as the cheapest Kindle price I could find for the e-books. This ensured that the prices were fair, making sure they were being sold by Amazon, and it would be consistent throughout.
  • Book selection: I went with the Amazon list because they were the most convenient to find, I will be spending time later on for the other e-reader platforms to ensure that I have a complete look of the landscape throughout ALL providers. Amazon is just the largest and most influential, so it was the best place to start.
  • Price difference: The “Price Difference” column is the Kindle Price minus the Book Price. This number gives us an idea of how much more expensive the Kindle prices are compared to the physical book prices, with red signifying the Kindle version is more expensive than the physical version.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s dive into the lists by genre as provided by Amazon.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Title Author Book Price Kindle Price Difference
Ready Player One Ernest Cline $10.99 $12.02 $1.03
The Magician King: A Novel Lev Grossman $10.88 $12.28 $1.40
Inheritance (Inheritance Cycle, Book 4) Christopher Paolini $18.47 $16.39 -$2.08
A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) George R.R. Martin $9.99 $17.48 $7.49
Embassytown China MiƩville $10.88 $15.30 $4.42
Among Others Jo Walton $10.19 $12.62 $2.43
Akata Witch Nnedi Okorafor $12.23 $17.99 $5.76
Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse) James S. A. Corey $10.87 $9.99 -$0.88
The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2) Patrick Rothfuss $11.49 $12.37 $0.88
Vortex Robert Charles Wilson $10.40 $7.39 -$3.01
Quick Stats: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Average Book Price: $11.64
Average Kindle Price: $13.38
Average Price Difference: $1.74
Largest Price Difference: $7.49

Literature & Fiction

Title Author Book Price Kindle Price Difference
The Art of Fielding: A Novel Chad Harbach $10.99 $9.99 -$0.20
1Q84 Haruki Murakami $16.62 $18.58 $1.96
The Marriage Plot: A Novel Jeffrey Eugenides $10.88 $10.92 $0.04
The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel Tea Obreht $10.20 $14.20 $4.00
The Night Circus Erin Morgenstern $9.00 $13.11 $4.11
The Lover’s Dictionary: A Novel David Levithan $10.40 $12.62 $2.22
Lost Memory of Skin Russell Banks $10.19 $9.99 -$0.20
The Sisters Brothers Patrick deWitt $10.19 $9.68 -$0.51
The Cat’s Table Michael Ondaatje $10.20 $11.99 $1.79
Please Look After Mom Kyung-Sook Shin $10.17 $15.30 $5.13
Quick Stats: Literature & Fiction
Average Book Price: $10.80
Average Kindle Price: $12.64
Average Price Difference: $1.83
Largest Price Difference: $5.13

Mystery & Thrillers

Title Author Book Price Kindle Price Difference
Before I Go To Sleep: A Novel S. J. Watson $10.19 $13.47 $3.28
Reamde: A Novel Neal Stephenson $12.91 $14.96 $2.05
Feast Day of Fools (Hackberry Holland) James Lee Burke $9.99 $13.64 $3.65
11/22/1963 Stephen King $13.59 $16.99 $3.40
Sister: A Novel Rosamund Lupton $10.99 $12.02 $1.03
A Trick of the Light: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel Louise Penny $13.70 $12.68 -$1.02
The Most Dangerous Thing (P.S.) Laura Lippman $10.19 $11.97 $1.78
The Night Strangers Chris Bohjalian $10.20 $15.30 $5.10
Turn of Mind Alice LaPlante $10.20 $17.48 $7.28
The Affair: A Jack Reacher Novel Lee Child $9.99 $12.02 $2.03
Quick Stats: Mystery & Thrillers
Average Book Price: $11.20
Average Kindle Price: $14.05
Average Price Difference: $2.86
Largest Price Difference: $7.28

Given my small sample of data, it’s hard to draw any real conclusions. What was apparent from this small sample is that Kindle e-books are priced significantly higher than physical books on Amazon, but the reason for that is difficult to figure out. I am sure publishers could blame piracy, or immaturity of the e-book market, or antiquated supply chains that haven’t become accustomed to publishing and promoting digital content.

Regardless, I hope that prices for digital books come down to reasonable levels. While “reasonable” can be subjective, I personally think that it’s reasonable for e-books to be priced below the price of the mass market paperback.

For my next research project, I’m going to run the same books through the Nook and Kobo stores and compare their prices, so we can get an idea if this problem is just for Amazon or accross the board.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to give feedback or ask questions in the comments!

WTF, Amazon. What The (Price) Fix?

Hi Amazon,

I love to read, and so it should come as no surprise that I am a huge fan of your Kindle. It’s wonderful: it’s portable, I can load it with thousands of books, and the battery life is amazing. It’s the device that every reader should seriously consider.

However, here’s what I am not in love with: the ridiculousness of e-books in your store.

I understand that e-books may or may not be cheaper than the paper versions, for whatever reason, but people have to feed their families. I understand.

What I don’t understand is, what the heck are you trying to pull with us loyal customers?

Background: I am in the middle of reading this amazing series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, and I just finished book seven: Reaper’s Gale. Despite being the longest series I have ever read, the books have managed to keep me captivated thus far and I was very excited to start the next in the series, Toll the Hounds.

There was a link, at the end of the Kindle version of Reaper’s Gale, to go buy Toll the Hounds in the store, so I clicked on it and noted the price for the book was $12.65. Wanting to make sure that the price was correct, I go to my computer and look at the listing, and I can confirm that it is the same price.

Oh okay, everything checked out.

However, I am a rather cautious fellow. I opened up Incognito mode in Chrome and Googled ‘amazon toll the hounds kindle’ and… what’s this?

Hold on, why was there an option that I was never shown? Why was it significantly cheaper than the one shown to me, someone who has bought 48 e-books in the past year and a half that I have owned my Kindle?

Here are the key differences between the two listings:

  • Cover Image
  • Publication Date

They are virtually the same otherwise. Just to prove it, I sent myself a sample of the more expensive version after I bought the cheaper, older version. Older version on the left, newer version on the right.

Can you spot the actual difference? Yup, the font.

So Amazon, please answer me this: as a loyal customer, why would you want to sour my experience with this practice?

UPDATE: It was pointed out on Reddit that, in the area that shows all of the different types of mediums that the book is purchasable on (Kindle, Hardcover, Mass Market, etc), you can click on the plus sign next to the medium type to get an expanded list for that particular medium.

As I responded on Reddit, I consider myself rather technically capable and observant, and I still had no idea that existed. Now you know!

I Came for the Post-Apocalyptic Setting, I Stayed for the Nerdiness

I finished reading The Oblivion Society by Marcus Alexander Hart on Friday. I enjoyed reading it, especially when you have gems like this:

“I’m with you,” Bobby agreed. “Let’s eat already. I feel like somebody did an ‘rm star’ on my stomach.”

It makes me sad that I read that, understood it, and laughed so hard that my fellow subway riders probably thought I was crazy.

Of course, there was this as well:

“We should all find souvenirs,” she said. “Look around. There’s probably some stuff we can use in here. At the very least we should all find something to wear to keep warm.” “Hell yeah,” Sherri said, loosening the belt on her coat. “I call dibs on the first thing anyone finds that’s black and encrusted in metal studs!” “Fine,” Bobby said. “I’ll let you know if I find Dennis Rodman.”

And don’t even get me started on all of the Canada-related puns on the billboards they kept running into. Oh boy.

Great read.