After the Agency Model, is there price competition again?

After the Agency Model, is there price competition again?

When the Agency Model came into being in the USA in April of 2010, publishers using it set the prices on e-books (rather than the retailers selling you the books). That basically meant that there was no price competition: the price would be the same wherever you bought it.

The US DoJ (Department of Justice) then went after those publishers…and they all settled, eventually ending the Agency Model.

A comment by reader Jamie Bothen got me wondering…are the prices different now at Barnes & Noble and Amazon?

I first checked some New York Times bestsellers:

  • Amazon $5.99: B&N $5.49
  • Amazon $5.49: B&N $6.15
  • Amazon $5.99: B&N $5.99
  • Amazon $8.52: B&N $10.99
  • Amazon $11.47: B&N $11.47
  • Amazon $10.65: B&N $10.99
  • Amazon $11.89: B&N $16.99
  • Amazon $5.99: B&N $7.99
  • Amazon $6.83: B&N $7.99
  • Amazon $10.65: B&N $10.99

Well, that answers the question in the affirmative!

Out of these ten books, only two were at the same price at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Only one of them was cheaper at B&N, and that was by fifty cents. Amazon does do price matching, so if people report the difference (there’s a link to do that on the book’s Amazon product page), the price would be likely to go down.

Interestingly, you could save up to $5.10 on a single book at Amazon!

Looking at the difference if you bought all ten (I went by the default order at Amazon…which happened to be by publication date), you would save $11.57…which could certainly get you another book.

I would actually expect the prices to be more similar on bestsellers than on “long tail” (older) titles…I would think competition would tend to keep them similar, since people are more likely to be comparing prices and shopping around.

So, I thought I’d try the

Science Fiction Classics (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

  • Amazon $3.99: B&N $3.99
  • Amazon $5.74: B&N $9.49
  • Amazon $4.95: B&N $5.99
  • Amazon $7.50: B&N $10.19
  • Amazon $8.04: B&N $9.99
  • Amazon $5.74: B&N $7.99
  • Amazon $10.74: B&N $12.99
  • Amazon $5.99: B&N $7.99
  • Amazon $5.99: B&N $7.99
  • Amazon $7.69: B&N $9.99

As I guessed: prices were significantly lower at Amazon on the backlist: the savings was $20.23, close to twice as much.

There’s the answer: prices are different at this point, and Amazon tends to be cheaper (but they are sometimes the same, and rarely, B&N is cheaper…but not by as much as Amazon tends to be cheaper on the average).

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

2 Responses to “After the Agency Model, is there price competition again?”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I was surprised that you did not mention that Apple was officially appealing the decision:

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Thanks for the link! I will write about it. 🙂 Probably in the next round up. I want to read the filing first, and I didn’t feel like there was a lot of urgency to this one. They’d already said they were going to do it, and it will likely be some time before it impacts anything.

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