Who costs what? A publisher price comparison
This was fun and difficult…I find those two often go together.
What I wanted to do was look at the pricing of different major publishers. One question I had was whether or not the Agency Model publishers were charging more than the prices Amazon is setting.
Right now, Amazon has agency agreements with four publishers: Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon and Schuster. On the product pages for those four, it will say, “This price was set by the publisher.”
Amazon has not reached an agreement with Penguin…which will eventually go to the agency model, from all indications (they have it with Apple). The current situation there is that no e-books from Penguin published since March 31, 2010 are in the Kindle store. However, I assume that the books that are there are still under the old wholesale model, since we don’t get the “price set by publisher” disclaimer.
Random House also is not an agency model publisher…at Amazon or Apple.
I also ran Harlequin, which is not an agency model publisher anywhere, to my knowledge.
I used Jungle-Search.com to run these numbers…it’s just easier than Amazon itself. That may introduce some additional result issues. For example, I limited some searches to, say, under $5 and got a result or two above that. I think what may happen there is that the price may have changed recently…I think all searches take a bit of time to index at Amazon.
The next important point is that I eliminated any imprints that did not have at least 100 books in the Kindle store right now. It would simply have been unwieldy to have included all of the imprints, and I think this gives you a pretty good indication of what is happening.
Also, I ran these numbers starting yesterday through today. It’s possible prices and numbers changed while I ran it, but probably not too much, I’d say.
First, let’s get a summary:
Publishers’ Percentages of Titles in Different Price Ranges
|Simon and Schuster||6||74||15||4||1|
What you are seeing here is a percentage of titles, not a number of titles. For example, 7% of Hachette’s titles are priced from zero to $4.99.
If we look at that popular breakpoint of ten dollars, Macmillan clearly has the most over $9.99: 35%. The lowest percentage is Hachette, with only one percent over $9.99 (some rounding errors may occur).
If you are looking for books under $5, though, the first choice is clearly Harlequin…with a whopping 83%.
Looking for expensive books? That’s Macmillan with 16 percent over $20. I took a look at those books: some are arguably textbooks for business courses, but quite a few I would say are trade titles.
When I look at the average percentage under ten dollars, I get this:
So, 8% more of the wholesale model books are under ten dollars…that’s significant, but might not be as big as you thought.
By the way, when I was running this, I saw quite a few great, well-known books from these major publishers under five dollars. I bring that up because a couple of people suggested that I start my prime range at $5, because there were a lot of bad books under that level. I beg to differ…as Snagglepuss, would say, “I’m a differ-begger!”. Some of these were definitely under copyright still as well.
In this post, I’m going to basically give you the numbers. This is a rich pot of data, though, so I definitely may return to this soon.
When we are looking at individual publishers and imprints below, those are the number of titles, with the percentages at the bottom.
|Back Bay Books||4||123||1||0||0||128|
|Farrar, Straus and Giroux||1||261||39||6||0||307|
|St. Martin’s Press||54||1856||245||7||10||2172|
|Thomas Dunne Books||1||239||137||2||0||379|
|Prentice Hall Press||1||98||25||39||164||327|
|The Dial Press||3||118||7||2||0||130|
|Alfred A. Knopf||8||582||124||86||15||815|
|The Modern Library||94||185||23||3||1||306|
|Three Rivers Press||3||624||5||1||1||634|
Simon and Schuster
For me, there is some really interesting stuff here, and I’ll do some comparisons.
A few interesting points:
Some of the books over $20 are compilations, so they are actually good buys on a per book basis. That tends to be the case at the Harlequin brands, for example.
Random House, a non-agency publisher, has eleven percent over ten dollars. That’s more than Hachette (1%) and HarperCollins (4%), who are agency publishers. However, it is less than Simon and Schuster (20%) and much less than Macmillan, which are also agency publishers.
Some imprints are clearly intended to be more expensive than other imprints from the same publisher. For example, compare Berkley, which I think of as a paperback imprint from Penguin, with Prentice Hall Press. 98% of the Berkely books are under ten dollars, but only 30% of the Prentice Hall books.
Only 56% of the Harlequin books are under the Harlequin imprint. 9% of them are from Steeple Hill, their faith-based line.
HarperCollins’ faith-based line, Zondervan, is also a huge part of their inventory, at least based on my numbers.
I was surprised that HarperCollins had so few books in my count…yes, I eliminated some imprints for being under 100, but I did that with other publishers as well.
It was nice to see that the Aladdin books from Simon and Schuster, which are kids’ books, are relatively inexpensive. That’s true with kids’ paperbacks in paper, so that’s presumably driving them down in e-book as well.
Bottom line: I wouldn’t use these numbers to say, “I’m not buying any books from that company.” Yes, I might use this to say, “Hey, I’ll take a look at Harlequin books.” For me, I do tend to look at the price of each purchase. I’m influenced by free, certainly.
So, what strikes you about these numbers? Any surprises? Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know.
Tip of the day: an “imprint” is a particular line of books from a publisher typically designed to appeal to a specific market. Noticing the imprints (they’ll be listed as the publisher on the book’s Amazon product page) can help you find similar books in the future.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.