Is $14.99 the new $9.99?
“More than 90,000 books are now available in the Kindle Store, including 101 of 112 current New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases, which are $9.99, unless marked otherwise.”
–Amazon press release introducing the Kindle, November 19, 2007
Things have obviously changed a lot in the past nine years. There are now close to five million titles in the USA Kindle store, and we’ve been through the whole Agency Model thing, where the Department of Justice ended up bringing action against publishers and Apple.
As you can see from above, Amazon didn’t promise that every Kindle e-book would be $9.99 or lower, as some people sometimes assert.
Still, for quite some time, the New York Times bestseller hardback equivalents were almost always under $10.
I track these pricing trends every month in my Snapshots , and I’ve noted there a rise in those prices (while prices in the store overall haven’t been going up appreciably…that’s due in part to so many more very low price books being published to the Kindle store).
This was my most report on New York Times bestseller hardback fiction equivalents:
December 1, 2016:
14.99 14.99 14.99 14.99 14.99 13.99 14.99 10.99 14.99 14.99
12.99 14.99 14.99 13.99 13.99 14.99 14.99 13.99 14.99 12.99
Average: $14.39 (+$0.50) 0 titles under $10
Yep…up fifty cents in one month.
Two years ago, that same category of books cost almost $5 less…and the price had dropped more than fifty cents from the preceding month.
December 1, 2014
10.99 12.74 3.25 9.78 4.99 10.99 12.99 6.99 11.84 10.99
10.99 5.00 9.99 9.78 9.09 10.99 10.99 10.99 6.99 10.99
Average: $9.57 (-$0.65) 9 titles under $10
When I looked at
page this morning, I was struck by how the first books I saw were all $14.99.
It’s important to note that the default sort is not bestselling, and that bestselling isn’t even a sort choice any more. The default is “featured”, which I would guess has some human curation.
As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I would equate “featured” with what is in the window. Certainly, at this time of year, you’d have some of the brand name authors that would get somebody to walk into the store who maybe wasn’t even planning to buy a book as a gift. “Oh, there’s that John Grisham…so-and-so reads those (or likes the movies).” You would also though, for sure, feature some books on sale, for people who don’t just buy books as gifts once a year.
Here are the first (I don’t want to say “top”) ten featured titles:
- Night School: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child
- The Whistler by John Grisham
- No Man’s Land (John Puller Series Book 4) by David Baldacci
- The Wrong Side of Goodbye (A Harry Bosch Novel) by Michael Connelly
- Turbo Twenty-Three: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich
- Cross the Line by James Patterson
- Small Great Things: by Jodi Picoult
- Sisters One, Two, Three by Nancy Star
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance
- The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis
All of those are $14.99 each, except for Sisters One, Two, Three…which is $4.99.
That’s an interesting “anomaly” in this group…published by Amazon, and actually not even published until January 1st. It’s one of the Kindle First picks.
can have one e-book (out of a group of six this month) to own for free.
“Featured” also clearly doesn’t match “bestselling”. Amazon does have a listing of bestselling items in many categories…they just don’t give you that as a sort within the Kindle store.
Here are the
You have to get down to the tenth title there to find a book listed at over $10, and to the 12th before one of the $14.99 featured titles is there (that Grisham book).
The Sisters book in the first ten featured titles is the number one seller…which may be why it is the one of the Kindle First books to be featured.
Also interesting: the bestselling book at #10, and listed at over $10, is What If? by Randall Munroe. That has been a New York Times bestseller…but you can read it no additional cost as part of either
That strongly suggests to me that those borrows do count in bestseller calculations. The paperback is hardly top ten at this point…it’s ranked 5,879 at time of writing.
Giving the gift of Prime or Kindle Unlimited can be a good way to go (the latter is still 25% off at time of writing for the one-year subscription).
This does seem to relate to me to the different markets of book customers I’ve mentioned before. People who only buy a few books a year, often as gifts (“piece buyers”), may be willing to pay $14.99. I think people who buy (or download, to include freebies) a lot of books find that to be a high price to pay, and they are predominantly affecting the Kindle bestseller rankings.
What do you think? Will you pay a lot more for a book as a gift for someone else than for yourself? Do you prefer to give physical books as gifts? How high will bestseller e-book prices go, and how quickly? How do indie (independent) publishers fit into this picture? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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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.