How Discounting Impacts Ebook Sales

Ebook discounting of HarperCollins titles by Amazon and others may not have had much of an impact sales, new data suggest.

On Sept. 11 and 12, new contracts went into place between HarperCollins and ebook retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The new contracts, instigated by a settlement between HarperCollins and the Department of Justice over the issue of ebook price-fixing, allowed Amazon and others to set the prices on ebooks.

The moment it was possible, discounting began on HarperCollins ebooks. Now that a few months have passed, we’ve taken a look at the data to see what, if any, effect the price changes had.

In several examples, we found that price decreases didn’t have much effect on sales ranking. If an ebook’s price is lowered from $10 to $8, for example, it needs to sell about 25% more copies than it would have without a price decrease to maintain the same level of revenue. We didn’t observe any sales rank bumps that would indicate that kind of increase in sales. Ideally, when the price is changed, it results in an overall increase in revenue than what would have happened had the price not been changed.

Read our five case-studies, including charts.

We will be presenting this data and more in a webcast tomorrow in partnership with the Book Industry Study Group. Register here.

We will be presenting a deeper dive on the data at Digital Book World 2013.


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Image credit: fire sale image via Shutterstock

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