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Who has the best ebook prices?

Dear Jane:

Where is the best price for ebooks these days?

Ellie

****

Dear Ellie:

I don’t do a lot of price comparison these days because at least five of the biggest publishers around set their own prices which means that the price for these books will be the same everywhere.   This is called “Agency Pricing”.

According to this article, Amazon’s prices on books that can be discounted are generally less expensive.   A sampling of pricing between Kindle and iBooks for NYT Bestsellers reveal:

  • Of that, 80% of the books are the same price on each platform.
  • The 20% that are cheaper on Kindle are cheaper by an average of 11%.

If you want to shop around, though, a tool like inkmesh can save you a lot of time.    But inkmesh isn’t infallible (and doesn’t include links or comparison to iBooks).

MoneyFor example, searching for Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (an agency priced book) pulls up prices from Diesel EBooks listed from $4.71 to $6.13.   The real price at Diesel, however, is $5.99 plus tax.    The inkmesh listing also brings forth a listing from HarperCollins ebookstore but while the 20% off price is attractive, the HarperCollins eBookstore is closed down.   Powell’s is no longer carrying the digital version of the book.   Having said that, Diesel eBooks and eBooks.com is the lowest price of Lord of Scoundrels.   Every other site has it for $6.99

Another example of inkmesh’s problems can be seen with Jess Granger’s Beyond the Rain (agency pricing).    Inkmesh lists ebooks.com as pricing the book at $15.00 but a visit to the site reveals the price at $12.99, same as everyone else.

Looking at a Harlequin book, a book that can be discounted, shows a variety of pricing from the low at Diesel eBooks at $2.21 to the high at ebooks.com at $3.15.

The great thing about inkmesh is that even if the prices listed may be different from time to time, it compiles all the links in one place, making it easy for a reader to check out the prices before buying.

The good thing is that prices are pretty similar from retailer to retailer but not all retailers have the content.   For example, Diesel eBooks doesn’t carry Macmillan (Lisa Kleypas, Jennifer Crusie); Grand Central (Larissa Ione, Elizabeth Hoyt); and Simon & Schuster (Kresley Cole, Sabrina Jeffries).   BooksonBoard doesn’t carry Grand Central books.

Generally speaking (and to the dismay of indie booksellers who are purportedly supposed to be helped by Agency pricing), BN and Kindle have the biggest offering of digital books with Kindle maintaining the most robust catalog.

Happy shopping.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

21 Comments

  1. Tweets that mention Who has the best ebook prices? | Dear Author -- Topsy.com
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 04:15:36

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vassiliki Veros, dearauthor. dearauthor said: New post: Who has the best ebook prices? http://bit.ly/dpMc6e [...]

  2. Estara
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 06:49:57

    For the sake of full freedom of choice – I also use these two ebook (to buy) search engines:

    Addallebooks – Meta search 30+ ebook sites with one click
    http://www.addall.com/AddBooks/Stores.html

    http://www.ebookprice.info/
    Find the ebook you want – in the format you need – at the price you’ll like

    Which Book Stores Do We Search for ebooks?
    Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Borders, Barnes and Noble, BooksOnBoard, CyberRead,
    Diesel eBooks, eBooks.com, eCampus.com, eHarlequin.com, ereadable.com,
    Feedbooks, Fictionwise, InformIT, Kobo, Peachpit, Powells, Random House, Sony, Waterstones

    ReplyReply

  3. Terri
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 07:40:19

    Aside from agency pricing and/or the absurdity of an e-book costing the same or more than a hardcover, my biggest frustration is having to use Kindle software at Amazon and B&N software at B&N. I have a Sony. I don’t want to read at my computer with Kindle for PC or the B&N Desktop reader. That’s why I got a device in the first place! So I’m now precluded from buying books at two of the biggest vendors. Much as I love Borders, it just doesn’t have the same kind of e-book selection and availability at this point. No other vendors seem to either. Hoping that will change before I have to crack and get a Kindle. But for now it’s very frustrating.

    ReplyReply

  4. Helen
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 08:05:23

    Actually you can download books from pretty much anywhere for the Nook, you just sideload that’s all. I’ve bought books from the sony bookstore, fiction wise, smashwords…etc.

    ReplyReply

  5. TKF
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 09:50:05

    I miss FictionWise. *sniff* It’s just a shadow of its former self. It was so nice to have a one-stop shop with all the formats. Now, even if they have the book I want (and they almost never do) they don’t have it in a format I can use.

    ReplyReply

  6. Maryann Miller
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 09:58:47

    While this surge in e-book popularity is good for authors like me, the proprietary platforms for the various readers still poses a problem. I have an older E-Bookwise and loading a book there is a bit time-consuming. I have to buy the book in RTF format or HTML and convert to RTF, then use the Fictionwise site to upload the book and then download to my device. I plan to get a Kindle because the selection in the Kindle store is becoming so good, but if I buy a book outside of the Kindle Store, I don’t know if I can read it on a Kindle.

    I really think the book sellers should make it easier for the reader to have one device and be able to buy and quickly load a book from any seller, but that is not happening soon enough for me. Not sure if it ever will.

    ReplyReply

  7. TKF
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 10:25:31

    @Maryann Miller:

    I really think the book sellers should make it easier for the reader to have one device and be able to buy and quickly load a book from any seller,

    As far as I can tell, the main culprits here are the makers of the devices, not the publishers. They want their device and their files to be linked and proprietary, which is not in the best interests of readers (but we’re pretty far down the list of who they’re trying to make happy).

    I have a CyBook, and it can be switched back and forth from Mobi to Adobe (though it ticks me off that Adobe won’t let it run both types of files; again this is not the publishers’ fault).

    ReplyReply

  8. Joanne
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 10:33:55

    @Maryann Miller: Jane gave a link to (cheap)reverbished Kindles and I got one. I love the ease of buying Kindle ebooks(way too much) and many of it’s features.

    Still- I wish someone had taken everything I love about my old and well-used Ebookwise and added to it. No light on the Kindle, blah. And holding the Ebookwise in my hands felt like a paper book. Kindle is much thinner, much lighter, sleeker, easier, faster —but the Ebookwise “felt” more like a book.

    On topic: The pricing is crazy and to make it easy on myself I’m buying my fav authors and trying less and less new authors.

    ReplyReply

  9. Moriah Jovan
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 12:38:53

    @Maryann Miller:

    I have an older E-Bookwise and loading a book there is a bit time-consuming. I have to buy the book in RTF format or HTML and convert to RTF, then use the Fictionwise site to upload the book and then download to my device.

    I have an eBookWise. I buy LIT format (if RTF or HTML aren’t available) and break it with LIT Converter (I’m sure Calibre could do it, too), then convert it with eBookWise Librarian

    It’s still work to get it on the device, but this will save you the step of going to the Fictionwise site to get it transferred to your device.

    I bought one of the refurb Kindles. I’m a convert. BUT (and this is a BIG but), between my three (eBookWise, Kindle, BlackBerry) NONE of them overlap in venue or features (other than reading text). In other words, they’re each perfect for where and how I use them and I wouldn’t give any one of them up.

    @Joanne:

    Still- I wish someone had taken everything I love about my old and well-used Ebookwise and added to it. No light on the Kindle, blah. And holding the Ebookwise in my hands felt like a paper book. Kindle is much thinner, much lighter, sleeker, easier, faster -’but the Ebookwise “felt” more like a book.

    Yes, exactly! That! The Kindle (although far lighter than the eBookWise) wears my hands out after a while. The eBookWise never has because it’s so ergonomically perfect.

    Actually, it’s just damn near the most perfect e-reader ever. If only it read EPUB and its format wasn’t proprietary.

    ReplyReply

  10. Lindsey
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 13:47:06

    Somewhat off-topic, but for the sites that do carry Macmillan books (such as Amazon, where I bought a Crusie recently), I would highly recommend downloading the first chapter, even if you’ve already read the book you’re buying and have the plot memorized. I bought Crusie’s Bet Me on there, and it was not edited. At all. It’s like someone converted it to ebook format, and then just uploaded it immediately, without actually looking at it first. It was made even more of a sore point because it was publisher-set at the price of a MMPB ($7.99), which means I expect the quality of a MMPB.

    ReplyReply

  11. Maryann Miller
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 15:29:57

    TKF — I did mean the device makers. Typed my response in too much of a hurry.

    ReplyReply

  12. Mike Cane
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 15:38:28

    Interesting that bad formatting comes up in the discussion. I just did a post about that, relating to Kindle. Those of you using Sony and B&N, do either give refunds for badly-formatted books?

    ReplyReply

  13. Tweets that mention Who has the best ebook prices? | Dear Author -- Topsy.com
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 15:56:55

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jane L, Suzanne Best. Suzanne Best said: RT @jane_l: hey trad publishers w. ur expensive ebooks: step up the quality: http://bit.ly/9IWIOt [...]

  14. Lindsey
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 16:16:40

    @Mike Cane: Unfortunately, despite scouring Amazon, there is nowhere I can find to report a badly formatted ebook, or even to “return” an ebook at all. The only way I could find to inform Amazon of how badly formatted the Bet Me is was to write a review detailing what happened (which I did), but I don’t even know if that will help me get my money back.

    Edited to add: I did find the link to return the book.

    ReplyReply

  15. Carin
    Jul 25, 2010 @ 18:11:00

    On the formatting issue. I bought a book which was editted (word wise) fine, but had horrible line issues.

    It’s on my Sony, and in the smallest font setting it’s too small to read, with a huge margin all around, but it looks just like I imagine the paperback edition would, except smaller all around.

    On the middle and large setting, it’s clear that there’s a paragraph/return at the end of every line. I’d guess they used a scanner. EVERY line.

    So this is what the text looked
    like. It

    was still readable, but it
    felt like

    I should be reading a poem.
    Very frust-

    -rating. And NOT what I
    expect when

    I pay full price for a
    book.

    Grrrrr. I ended up reading it in a smaller font size to minimize the issue.

    ReplyReply

  16. TKF
    Jul 26, 2010 @ 09:57:13

    @Lindsey:

    Unfortunately, despite scouring Amazon, there is nowhere I can find to report a badly formatted ebook, or even to “return” an ebook at all.

    When I got a book like this I just emailed customer service about it. By the next day I had my refund and the book had been deleated from my “shelf”.

    ReplyReply

  17. Annette Gisby
    Jul 27, 2010 @ 08:07:24

    I bought The Lost Symbol in epub for my Sony last year. It was terribly formatted, there were about five lines to a page, every time there was a paragraph break there were lots of blank spaces. My husband got the hardback given to him as a gift and I just happened to catch sight of a diagram on one of the pages. “It has pictures?” I have no idea why the pics didn’t show up in the epub version, they were black and white.

    ReplyReply

  18. Elizabeth
    Jul 27, 2010 @ 20:41:07

    I read on my Palm Pre and BN nook. I have not had problems with formatting on the nook, though there are the glaring input errors every so often. I am buying eReader format from places like BooksOnBoard because I can read it on either device. I can do Adobe Digital Editions on the nook (sideloaded via cable), but not on my webOS phone, so I buy those only if the price is best.

    ReplyReply

  19. Cindy
    Dec 04, 2010 @ 11:24:02

    What aggrevates me is how much money the publisher saves on the book, both hard cover and paperback, yet they want to charge the same price. I don’t pay full price for paperbacks. I get them at Sam’s or Kroger where they are discounted. Yet they expect me to pay about $2 more for a digital version that cost them at least $2 less to product. This is the reason I haven’t gone digital yet.

    ReplyReply

  20. How Do I Use My New Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, or iPad? | Dear Author
    Dec 26, 2010 @ 04:02:04

    [...] Here is an article about who has the best ebook prices. [...]

  21. Kelley
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 11:53:30

    Hello! This is Kelley from Diesel-eBooks.

    Just wanted to correct some old info in this post and state that we do now carry all the eBooks from the Agency Five. So, all th eBooks from the following publishers are now back on the Diesel eBook Store:
    Macmillan, Hachette (Grand Central), Simon & Schuster, Penguin and HarperCollins.

    Just wanted to mention it and ask if there is a way to update your post accordingly? Thank you.

    ReplyReply

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