Amazon Best Books All Big Six, All Agency Priced, Some Print Now Cheaper Than Digital

amazonBy Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

Amazon announced its ten best books of 2012 so far as chosen by its book editors and all ten on the list were from big-six publishers who set their own prices for the e-books. None were self-published.

Most of the books on the list were published by Random House (see chart below) and all were priced at $10.99 or above for the Kindle edition, a price underscored on the Amazon sell page that was “set by the publisher.”

Amazon Books Editors Best Books of the Year So Far 2012
Rank Title Author Publisher Kindle Price Print Price Difference
1 Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity Katherine Boo Random House $13.99 $16.20 $2.21
2 Gone Girl Gillian Flynn Random House $12.99 $13.98 $0.99
3 The Fault in Our Stars John Green Penguin $10.99 $10.79 ($0.20)
4 Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Ben Fountain HarperCollins $12.99 $14.36 $1.37
5 The Passage of Power Robert A. Caro Random House $14.99 $21.00 $6.01
6 The Orphan Master’s Son Adam Johnson Random House $12.99 $13.98 $0.99
7 Tell the Wolves I’m Home Carol Rifka Brunt Random House $12.99 $14.43 $1.44
8 Wild (From Lost to Found no the Pacific Crest Trail) Cheryl Strayed Random House $12.99 $14.81 $1.82
9 The Age of Miracles Karen Thompson Walker Random House $12.99 $15.60 $2.61
10 Private Empuire: ExxonMobil and American Power Steve Coll Penguin $19.99 $21.60 $1.61


The prices on the list range from $10.99 to $19.99. The average price on the list is $13.79. The most common price is $12.99.

The complete list from Amazon goes deeper than ten books. There are 20 editors’ picks as well as books a dozen categories, like Business & Leadership and Literature & Fiction.

As part of the promotion of the books, Amazon is running a 40% off sale, but the discount only applies to the hardcover version of the book, creating the situation of having the hardcover version of the book cost less than the Kindle edition. For instance, the hardcover version of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Penguin), the editors’ third pick, is currently only $10.79, versus the Kindle Price of $10.99.

There are several other examples of where the Kindle edition is more or as expensive than the print edition, including Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan (Macmillan, $9.99 vs. $9.00 for the paperback, all that is available on Amazon) and several books in the romance category.

For many of the books on the list, the Kindle price is now just a few dollars cheaper than the print price, which could anger consumers, many of whom already believe that e-book prices are too high.

Amazon has not yet returned request for comment.

Some of the other lists are similarly dominated by agency-priced books. A quick glance at the mystery, thriller & suspense list as well as the business & leadership lists show that none of the Kindle editions are priced below $10. The romance list, however, has several titles where the Kindle edition is priced below $10.

Write to Jeremy Greenfield


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