Amazon have found themselves at the centre of a price war in the US after a promo for Overstock.com promised savings of at least 10% on books that were also being sold by the online retail giant. This has led to Amazon responding by offering discounts of between 50% and 65% on some of the books that it sells – including hardbacks. This means that in some cases it is now currently cheaper to buy the hardback copy of a book than to fork out for its digital equivalent. For instance, the Dan Brown book Inferno, which comes with an RRP of $30 is now available in hardback form for just $11.65 – more than a dollar cheaper than the Kindle e-book.
Amazon’s new pricing strategy appears to have arrived with little acknowledgement or promotion from the retailer itself and was first reported on Saturday by the news service Shelf Awareness. Many commentators however have come to the conclusion that this is a direct reaction to the prices being offered by its competitor, which involve “hundreds of thousands” of titles being sold for cheaper than they were selling for on Amazon. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the many of the prices now being offered by Amazon are extremely similar to those being touted by Overtstock.com.
Good or Bad For the Industry?
Amazon has also launched a new “Fall Books” promotion which includes vast discounts being offered on a number of eagerly-awaited titles, including Stephen King’s forthcoming Doctor Sleep. The news has been met with mixed reactions from the industry, with fear that subsequent price cuts may lead to consumers expecting these rates to become the norm, to the detriment of various emerging publishing houses and authors. Random House, the publisher of Inferno has said little apart from “prices are set by the retail marketplace”.