Are ebook prices creeping upwards?

  • Share on Tumblr

I’ve been buying and reading a lot of ebooks lately. And I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend – ebook prices appear to be rising. When I first started buying ebooks after I purchased my 1st generation Sony Reader, prices were steady at $9.99 or less. It stayed that way for a while.

A few weeks ago, however, I was browsing for something to read and I realized that a lot of ebooks are now priced at $12.99. For example, Jonathan Franzen’s new book, Freedom: A Novel (aff link), is $12.99 on the Sony ebookstore, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. This is only one example. If you look at the bestseller lists at the various ebookstores, the average price appears to be above $9.99.

Publishers have made it clear they are unhappy with the $9.99 price point. They say it devalues their books and creates an expectation with consumers that books should be priced below $10.

To combat these lower prices, publishers are moving towards the agency model. The idea is that the publishers are the ones selling the book to the reader, not the ebookseller like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Thus, when Amazon (for example) does sell an ebook, they get a commission on that sale (30% I think). In short, the agency model gives publishers more control over ebook prices.

Unfortunately I think publishers have been successful in their efforts to charge more for ebooks. I know the average price I’ve been paying has gone up. The only question remains: How high can ebook prices go before consumers start to revolt? And they won’t revolt by giving up on ebooks altogether, rather, they’ll revolt by downloading pirated ebooks.

Comments are closed.