In my experience, it’s very unusual to find a Kindle book that is more expensive than a p-book (paperbook) of the same version of the same title.
It does happen, though. This is my sense of it:
1. It happens when the Kindle book price is based on the hardback, and the paperback is released. This is usually a short term situation, because the digitial list price will be lowered in short order
2. It happens when the paperback and the Kindle book are both available for pre-order. This normally straightens out when the paperback is actually available for purchase, or shortly thereafter
3. It happens with Kindle books and hardbacks when the hardback is a bargain book. The paperback may not have been released yet, but they are reducing the hardback stock. Those are what we would have called remainders in the bookstore. Amazon marks them as bargain books. When the book is no longer a bargain book (either because it is out of print, or it returns to normal pricing because the excess stock issue has been resolved), this settles
4. The p-book is on a special promotional sale for another reason
5. It’s an error, and it gets corrected. It can help to point it out to Amazon.
Bottom line: a bicycle is not always cheaper than a car, but that’s the probability.
That reminds me of an old line attributed to Damon Runyon:
“The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that is the way to bet.”
Whenever this topic arises, people inevitably say that they didn’t get a Kindle to save money. Others may suggest that buying a Kindle was financially imprudent (did you like the tactful way I put that? They don’t always).
For me, I’ve saved tremendous amounts of money. It’s going to depend very much on what your buying habits were like before the Kindle, of course.
Bestsellers tend to be cheaper on the Kindle. The price wars this holiday season, at least on some big name titles, may make that not true or at least, not as true. If all you bought were New York Times bestsellers when they were first released in hardback, you’ll save money with the Kindle…at least, on the initial purchase.
I say on “the initial purchase”, because if you regularly sold the p-book afterwards, that makes a difference. Do it in a timely fashion, and you could get 25% on a new, popular hardback. If you donated the book, that doesn’t count, unless you took a tax write-off.
If you regularly bought new books from pretty much anywhere, e-books will probably save you money…unless you waited for remainders (those bargain books).
Now, if you regularly bought used books, that’s different…especially if you were a library sale/garage sale kind of a shopper. E-books will only beat p-books there if you bought public domain books you can find for free in electronic versions. After all, zero is lower than ten cents.
The other way you’ll save money buying Kindle books is if you have eclectic tastes. The broader you range, the more opportunities you have to get free or low costs titles. Like romances? Amazon has a bunch of free ones (Harlequin and its imprints have embraced e-books…I assume passionately). Science fiction? Try the Baen Free Library. Download them in Mobi format.
So, can you ever find p-books cheaper than the e-book? Sure. Is that going to be typical. Nope.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.