Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Amazon eBook Prices: What Do You See?

Image source
*Skip to the end of the post to see the answer that has since been found.*

It has come to my attention that the prices of self-published ebooks on Amazon are not the same outside the US as they are inside the US.

I used to look at authors' ebooks on Smashwords and Amazon and I'd think to myself, why are they pricing their books higher on Amazon than they are on Smashwords? Is it because more work goes into formatting for Amazon? Surely anyone with half a brain cell will choose to buy from the cheaper site then?

BUT after a conversation with a friend recently, and having looked at a few more author websites and then at their books on Amazon, I suddenly twigged: the authors are NOT pricing their books differently on different platforms, it's Amazon that keeps showing me a price that's $2 higher than the price the author set.

What??

I contacted Amazon to ask them why this happens and they couldn't answer my question. They told me that they're unable to offer a price match with a different online retailer. Okay, I get that, but that isn't what I asked! I asked ONLY about Amazon: if I click on the exact same link that my friend in the US does, why do I (in South Africa) see a price that is $2 higher than the price she sees?

No response.

So, if you're not currently in the US (or even if you are, just so we can make sure about this), I'd like to ask you a question. When you click on the following Amazon links, what price do you see?


Book
The author says
I see
$3.99
$5.99
$2.99
$4.99
$3.99
$5.99
$2.99
$4.99

And another important question for authors: if you've priced your book at $0.99, but I pay $2.99, do you still only get 35% royalites (and not 70%, as you should on a $2.99 book)? Does Amazon take the rest even though someone has paid more for your book?

~ ~ ~

UPDATE (22 Nov 2011)
The answer can be found on the KDP Sales and Royalites FAQ page:

1-6. Why is the price of my book higher in other countries than in my own?
There are a number of reasons why prices for Kindle titles may vary from region to region, including taxes, delivery costs, and other operating costs. We understand your concern about prices and we share that concern - we will continue our efforts to reduce costs and offer the best possible prices to customers in every region.


I guess I should have searched harder for the answer before posting about this, but I'm still glad I posted, as it seems that many people are unaware of the price difference.


20 comments:

Carole Anne Carr said...

Very true, my ebooks are far cheaper in the UK than on Amazon.com!

Christine Murray said...

That is really, really strange. I can't believe they wouldn't give you a straight answer!

Sarah Pearson said...

I clicked on your links but it won't show me any prices as I'm in England.

Michelle Roberts said...

I'm in the US and the prices when I clicked on the links are the same as in the first column: Author says. Don't know why this might be unless it's because you're in a different country. :(

Cherie Reich said...

Wow, that's really odd. The prices for me in the US are the ones the author listed.

Maybe Amazon adjusted it to fit a different currency. I notice UK books look cheaper on Amazon just because the pound is worth more than the US dollar. *shrugs*

KarenG said...

I went to Amazon direct publishing site (DTP) to see what their policies are on royalties. There it states that due to increased taxes and delivery costs, they must charge more outside the US.

Rachel Morgan said...

I've noticed that the $2 addition is only for ebooks. When I check the paperbacks the price is the same as the author quotes on their website.

Rachel Morgan said...

KarenG - thanks for checking out the policy on KDP. I think Amazon is kind of nuts though, considering the delivery of ebooks is, ya know, WIRELESS!

Sher A. Hart said...

That's exactly what I thought. Last I heard, wireless internet shipping isn't any more costly. Which only leaves taxes. Does S. Africa have tariffs?

Kittie Howard said...

I e-mailed a friend in Kenya and asked her to see what price she sees. So, Amazon's explanation is taxes! Really? There's an export tax Amazon must pay? If there were a tax, wouldn't it be an import tax on the other end, added by the receiving country and collected by that country in a form of tax? And a $2.00 tax/delivery charge on $3.99 - when delivery is FREE? Something's screwy here.

I've e-mailed Amazon as well. No response.

Talli Roland said...

Very strange! Perhaps it's down to exchange rate? Weird...

Ciara said...

Amazon issues go even deeper than this. My two publishers have to charge more, or make less, with Amazon than any other online competitor. My royalty % is almost nothing on Amazon with my one publisher. :( I'm with two different press houses and know this is an issue with both. I'd be interested to see what other published authors have to say. Is this all small press? Big Six? etc...

Carol Riggs said...

That is just so strange! And wrong, if the author is not aware of what's going on, and if Amazon is pocketing the extra. Taxes? Hmph.

Rachel Morgan said...

I am curious to know whether an author (self-published, who can see their sales) knows whether a particular sale is "local" or "international"...

I was curious to see if it's ALL ebooks (and not just the self-published ones I've been looking at). So I looked up THE HUNGER GAMES ebook and saw a price of $6.69. Sent my US friend to the same link and she saw $4.69!

And this is only Amazon, as far as I can tell. When I look up the same book on Smashwords or iTunes I see it at the lower price. The price the author quotes it being at.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

It could be something like the VAT tax that UK, Fr, De Amazon prices are subjected to. Amazon makes you "register" with a physical address when you make your account, and as far as I can tell, that is how they determine what you can see. For example, with my US acct, I can't see the UK price for my own book! (I made a temp UK address acct just to check that the price was accurate.)

Jessica Therrien said...

So crazy! And, yes, I believe Amazon gets the extra money. The author only gets the royalty amount specified in their contract with their publisher (unless you're self published I guess...in that case. I have no idea).

Madeleine said...

Now I didn't know that. I did hear that Amazon traded at a loss for a while when it first started before it began making profits. Maybe they are trying to recoup those lossed now!

Gerhi Janse van Vuuren said...

In some countries it is a tax that Amazon adds. It is in place for most countries that do not have a dedicated Amazon site. I don't think South Africa has a similar tax and as far I know it is an arbitrary surcharge added by Amazon. Possibly they use it to subsidize Vodacom for the free 3G SA Kindle users has (which goes legs up for the free download promise).

As far as I know authors receive no money on this and is it just another way a big American company fleeces the rest of the world. David Gaughran wrote about this from a European perspective and he could give you much more details.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

This is interesting. I never noticed it before.

Cally Jackson said...

Bah! Blogger just ate my comment! Let's try that again!

You will probably be very interested to hear that in Australia, I get the same prices as the US. Couldn't tell you why, but when I look up those books, the prices are the same as your first column.

I'm relieved about that from a personal perspective, but it's so not fair for South Africa and other countries in the same boat!