Percentage of books priced $14.99 in USA Kindle store leaps up

Percentage of books priced $14.99 in USA Kindle store leaps up

I was looking at the

USA Kindle eBooks storefront (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

By default, Amazon now sorts them by “featured” books…presumably, one they have chosen to promote on the site. That doesn’t mean the list itself is manually stacked…it could be that the list is based on something which is manually stacked.

It was interesting to me how many of the books were priced at $14.99. They were popular books from tradpubs (traditional publishers).

If I look at the

USA Kindle store paid bestsellers (at AmazonSmile*)

the story is very different: only two of the top twenty sellers are priced at $14.99.

The number in the featured titles felt intuitively like a big jump to me…but I don’t like to just go with my intuition. 😉

Fortunately, on the first of the month, I do my


and that let me go back and compare the percentages of $14.99 book in the USA Kindle store.

I started with looking at the percentages for the months of this year…and it was dramatic!


That’s right…even though they aren’t yet 1% of the books in the store, the percentage doubled from October to November.

My next thought was that maybe it is seasonal. Maybe the prices go up every November.

So, I ran Novembers for the past five years:


2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
0.11 0.17 0.23 0.22 0.8

I also checked the trend for $9.99 over the past five years, to see if there might be a direct correlation:


It’s a very interesting chart, although it doesn’t show a direct correlation.

The Agency Model, where the publishers set the consumer prices, came into effect for e-books in 2010. That situation ended in 2013.

Now, I think most people who follow this would have expected the percentages of books priced at $9.99 to go up with the Agency Model ending…and the opposite happened (at least based on these November 1st numbers).

It’s worth noting that a modified version of the Agency Model is back…but it certainly doesn’t appear that Amazon lowered a bunch of prices to $9.99 when the Agency Model was over.

It’s intriguing…and not out of line with one of the possible scenarios I’ve suggested.

Tradpub frontlist titles may become more expensive…with hardback brand name author new novels getting, at least in some cases, to a $50 list price. Many are close to $30 now.

That doesn’t mean that everybody will pay that much for books to read. There are many inexpensive Kindle store books…even free ones.

While they aren’t the tradpub frontlist, there are former New York Times bestsellers available as part of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

We may be moving back towards a much more tiered system of readers. Top tier people paying a premium for the latest books by the best known authors.

Something like that is how it was for a very long time…essentially, until paperbacks in the 1930s.

Then, we would have  a tier that pays for books, including through subsers (subscription services) like  KU.

Third, we would have people who read books for free. They would be much better off than lower tier readers were even ten years ago. There are so many legal free e-books! If a lower tier reader wants to read the latest Stephen King, for example, one possibility is that they’ll be on a waiting list at the public library…a list which might be months long.

How do tradpubs survive with brand name authors in a situation like that?

They charge more for books…and they lower their costs and risks. They stop taking chances on unproven authors…they let someone prove themselves by self-publishing first and showing an audience.

I wonder if that might actually flatten the prices for prestige books. Right now, a publisher will put out a small market book that gets them awards…and charge a lot more for it than for a popular novel. If everything is an expensive micromarket (even popular novels when first released), though, they might not need the price disparity. In other words, a 500 page book on an obscure historical topic might be much closer in price than a 200 page novel is currently.

I’ll keep my eyes on the pricing…

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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.



12 Responses to “Percentage of books priced $14.99 in USA Kindle store leaps up”

  1. Helen Says:

    Bufo, this isn’t about your post. I have a problem and today I can’t find where to get Amazon chat. My account now lists a bunch of android devices and I can’t tell what phone goes with them. Some should be deleted. Can you tell me what to do? Thanks!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Helen!

      You can reach Amazon chat at

      Click or tap on

      Contact Us

      My understanding is that sometimes those additional installations are created when the app is updated. I’m not sure that it is necessary to delete them (there is no limit to the number of device which can be registered to an account), but it does feel nice to clean up the list. 🙂 You could try sending a document to one of them to see if it shows up on your phone and if it doesn’t, delete it…that might take some time, though.

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I’ve been putting more and more new release books on my wish list and adding them to eReaderIQ for notification of lower price. So far, only one of them has actually gone to the price I will pay. Goodreads is asking folks to vote on best books of the year, and I haven’t ready any of them. Maybe I need to readjust to the fact that the price point of Kindle books is not going to come down, but I really don’t want to pay $14.99 for an e-book.

    FYI, I hadn’t tried my sunsetting version of Kindle for Mac for awhile. I needed it today to check a reference, so I fired it up and was sad to learn that though I can still read books I have downloaded, I can no longer access the archive. Oh well, I did download the books I had previously purchased that don’t read well on a non Fire Kindle. And thanks to an update of Firefox, I can still access the Cloud Reader for now.

    Am I the only one who doesn’t like the changes Amazon has made to it’s “Recommendations” pages on the website? Too many pictures, not enough words! Before, they would show you thousands of recommendations in a nice list format. Now they only show a hundred in a slide to the right photo display. I realize they are making it more tablet and smart phone friendly, but does that mean they have to make it more desktop and laptop unfriendly?

    OK, I’m stepping off my whiny soapbox now!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      That might be another interesting analysis, although a bit tricky for me to do: is there less price volatility from the tradpubs? I might try to do that one.

      As to the best books: yes, that’s going to be one of the issues if we have tiering. The top tier people will tend to read the same books, and the middle and lower tiers won’t read those books much. That will create a feedback loop, narrowing what the top tier reads and exalts.

      Haven’t noticed the recommendations change…I’ll to look at it.

      Interesting on your Kindle for Mac. I appreciate you keeping me informed!

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        Got a notice from Goodreads today that two of the books I have read had advanced to the second round for best book of the year in their categories, so I don’t know if these books were added by readers during the first round or what. Anyway, the books were “Born with Teeth,” (the book that went down to an acceptable price point) and “Go Set a Watchmen.” I don’t know if either book will win, but I’m glad to know I’m not totally out of the loop for what you categorize as “top tier” books. I can afford to pay $14.99 for a book. Maybe it’s time to take another look at my wish list and treat myself to some higher priced if not necessarily higher class reading.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        Interesting about Born with Teeth! I’m seeing it at $14.99 for the Kindle edition. It has 4.5 stars out of 5 with 251 customer reviews.

        Oh, and it was $11.99 and $12.99 for a while.

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I picked up “Born With Teeth” when it was one of the other of those prices. I can’t remember which now. I checked my wish list. I had 85 books on it. I didn’t have all of them on eReaderIQ, so that’s why I didn’t get notice. Most of them had been on my wish list for awhile. Three of them must have been part of the big holiday deals because I got all three for a total of $8.37! All in all, I’m glad I checked my wish list.

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        Rereading my last post, I realize I left out my main point. Out of those 85 books, 15 had been reduced in price, some of them significantly. I really need to do a better job of proofreading. Sorry!

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        I understand the proofreading issue. 😉

  3. Tom Semple Says:

    Interesting about the spike in November. When did Amazon change the list to ‘Featured’, and was it previously by sales rank or something? I assume the comparisons were relative to ‘paid bestsellers’?

    I rarely browse best seller or ‘featured’ lists, but have noticed higher prices for months now on the new books I’m interested in. I certainly have favorite authors and subjects, but I have no dearth of great reading with what I’ve already bought, what is available from KU and library borrowing, etc., so I don’t feel I’m missing much by not buying books over about $8. eReaderIQ alerts are helpful, and I will buy most things on my wish list that drop below $5 even if I have no idea when I’ll actually be able to read them.

    If the big publishers were targeting their sales efforts at people like me, everything that I’m interested in would be less than $5 at some point during the launch, and it would be an impulse buy that would be difficult for me to hold back on if I thought it would jump back up to >$12. I’d have another book I don’t have time to read, they would have a sale right out of the blocks, and then I’d be ready buy the next great new book on the same basis. I don’t see how they could lose on this. Of course not everyone is like me, so I have to assume their strategy is aimed at a different, larger demographic, people who still choose between print and digital, etc., and that it is a ‘rational’ approach at some level. And I do see experimentation with pricing even with the big publishers.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      It was previously by “popular”, which was pretty much by sales, but I think there might have been other factors, like clicks.

      I thought I wrote about it when I noticed it, but I’m not seeing it right away. I’d say…within the past six weeks or so, but I’m terrible with time.

      Definitely the price of physical books is very important to the publishers…that’s why we got the Agency Model, from what I understand.

  4. Amazon’s The Best Books of 2015 | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Percentage of books priced $14.99 in USA Kindle store leaps up […]

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