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Amazon and Barnes and Noble Online Pricing: What’s Up With That?

If you haven’t heard by now, there was much outrage in Romanceland in the days before and during the Thanksgiving Day weekend. The issue? The Kindle price for Eloisa James’ When the Duke Returns was reported by AAR Alert Readers to be an incredibly inflated $14.99.  

Much sputtering later (and, okay, so I was one of the sputterers), it turns out that the price was a mistake (I have no idea whose) and a correct price was later posted. Only there’s a problem: It’s $7.99. The exact same price as the paperback edition. And, gee, isn’t the cost to produce an ebook a mere fraction of the cost to produce an actual paper book? Well, good luck with that, Avon.

Being the sleuth that I am, however, I noticed something equally outrageous: The paperback price is listed on Amazon as $7.99. Not the $6.49 or the like to which we’ve all grown accustomed. What the heck happened to the Amazon discount?

But it’s not just Avon. To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt is priced at $6.99 (Forever), Catherine Mulvany’s Wicked is the Night (Pocket) is $6.99, Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts (Jove) is $7.99, and Robin Kaye’s Romeo, Romeo (Sourcebooks) is also $6.99. Berkley Sensation seems to be pretty much alone in holding the discount line with Erin McCarthy’s trade paperback Flat Out Sexy priced at $10.78, down from $14.00.

As for the prices at Barnes and Noble online: Ditto. On all of the above.

And guess what? Of the books that I checked, the prices on the backlists of the authors above are list prices, too. So, in effect, any discounts seem to have been retroactively removed.

The good news is that Avon seems to be standing alone in that Kindle pricing thing. All of the books above – except Avon new releases – have discounted Kindle prices. Which is as it should be.

Since I’m a fan of vast conspiracies, I wonder if there was some sort of meeting in a smoke-filled room amongst various publishers to abandon online discounts? As Amazon repeats over and over, publishers set prices for books.

So, what do you think? In a time when almost everybody is feeling the squeeze, will the price increase affect the number of books you buy? Are you outraged? Or, on the other hand, do you accept the higher prices as a manifestation of the grim reality that many publishers (as discussed here last week) are facing the same economic pressures as consumers? Are higher prices…well, just the price we have to pay?

-Sandy AAR

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