It’s Thursday and it’s time for my weekly Kindle rant! Last Tuesday, I ordered the four-book box set of A Song of Ice and Fire. I used The Game of Thrones as an example of poor pricing a couple of weeks ago but I still wanted that book – and I got it. But there’s still a strange discrepancy.
Are you ready for this? Okay – one book from that set, in paperback, from Amazon, would have costed about $10.50. That would be The Game of Thrones. So that’s the retail price of a mass market paperback book that’s been around since 2003. Fine, whatever. That same book though is $8.99 in the Kindle bookstore. That’s not cheap, but admittedly, the book is nearly 900 pages. So again, fine, whatever.
Imagine that same absurd pricing system used for the three remaining books in the box set. That’ll bring us to the insane pricing system for the box set.
Ready? Okay – the list price for the set makes sense if each book is $10 or so, it comes in at $35.95. That’s the price I’d expect of a box set and that’s great. The Amazon price is $19.77 which means we’re getting a 45% discount. That’s spectacular. That’s for the physical books. Why wouldn’t the Kindle versions be priced as aggressively? Because. That’s why.
No, not at all. The Kindle version of the box set makes its own sense. It is precisely $29.99. Why does that make sense? If the box set were at retail list price, it would be a groundbreaking 25% discount. That’s pretty good, but since we’re not at the list price anymore in the real world, there is price discrepancy between that and this Kindle-world version. I realize a 45% discount on real book is indeed, a deal. That’s great and all, but the point of Kindle books was to eliminate part of the price and charging more for for copies of books that are not redistributable doesn’t make much sense.
One of my friends recently bought a Kindle. I tweeted to him that he’ll have to watch out for the absurd pricing. I think he was under the impression, like me and many others initially, that Kindle books would be universally cheaper than their printed counterparts. The printed book has its own value, yes, but then they have their own internal content value. That would make sense, for instance, if there was only a 10% discount on the prices, but often, there is an price premium on those Kindle book versions. Is having the ability to get books instantly a reason to make the Kindle books 10%-30% more than their paperback counterparts? Something just doesn’t add up.
This is yet again another instance of some strange conspiracy going on in the land of publishing and Amazon. There is no choice but to sell at the price the publisher wants, but at the same time, there should be some pressure.