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Ebook Pricing Going All Out Of Whack

by Sean P. Aune | October 10, 2010October 10, 2010 8:00 am PST

It would seem that some people have lost their minds when it comes to e-book pricing. Because it makes total sense that a digital book should cost more than a hardcover edition of a new title.

It was spotted late last week that at least two new books on Amazon had their Kindle editions selling for more than their hardcover counterparts. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett and Don’t Blink by James Patterson are the two that have left every one scratching their heads as to what is going on.

Fall of Giants

Don't Blink

While the Kindle editions are still cheaper than the list price of the hardcovers, you would be hard pressed to find any retailer that sells books at their full list price.  And it isn’t just Amazon that is seeing this pricing oddness as Borders has followed suit on the e-books, but went even cheaper on Patterson’s hardcover edition.

These prices are generally suggested by the publishers, so you can’t fully blame the retailers for them.  No matter who is setting the pricing, charging more for a digital edition that obviously costs less to produce is not going over well with consumers.  The lowered costs of production have led many to believe that the digitally formatted books should sell for less, but when publishers took over setting the prices, that was definitely no longer the case.  Pushing the price past that of the hardcovers is certainly within their rights, but it just doesn’t make any sense.

About the only reason I can think of for such a pricing structure is that the publishers are trying to recoup some of the 30 percent that e-book publishers take off of the price.  Even that is a bit of a stretch in my mind as publishers are used to dealing with returns and selling retailers books at deep discounts.

With this only being spotted on two titles thus far, it may just be a test to see how consumers react to it, or it may just be the first volley in a totally new pricing structure.  If this is to become the norm, the growth of the e-reader market may hit a rapid deceleration in speed.

What say you?  Do you think this is a test or a new norm?

Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...