Retailers Sink Ebook Best-Seller Prices to Lowest Levels Ever With Holiday Discounting

takedown twentyReaders who waited until December to load up on the year’s hottest books were wise to do so.

Buy the new John Grisham (Penguin Random House) for $3.29 or Donna Tartt’s sensation The Goldfinch (Hachette) for $1.79. Buy Gone Girl (Penguin Random House) for $3.29 or all five Game of Thrones (Penguin Random House) books for $9.99 (a lot of pages for just ten dollars).

Many of these titles have been deeply discounted, even from last week. The Goldfinch, for instance, was $7.99 on the last Digital Book World Ebook Best-Seller List.

As a result, the average price of a best-selling ebook this week is $5.27, a new all-time low. The previous low was in early September: $5.41.

Related: Tracking the Downward Trend in Ebook Prices

Authors, publishers and agents are still being paid the same amount for each copy of the book by the retailers, meaning that many of these books are being sold at a loss, the aim likely to accrue market share.

While publishers with discounted books are likely moving many copies and shoveling in revenue, they may also be disconcerted with the new perceived value of their wares. Consider, a decade ago, for readers to acquire the latest hits from big-name authors within months of their release, they would likely have had to pay $20 to $40 for a hardcover copy.

Ebook best-sellers from the week ending 12/9:

Top Selling Ebooks: $10 and above
Top Selling Ebooks: $8.00 – $9.99
Top Selling Ebooks: $3.00 – $7.99
Top Selling Ebooks: $0.00 – $2.99

Top 25 Ebook Best-Sellers
Week Ending 12/8/13
Rank* Title Author Publisher  Price**  Change
1 (3) The Book Thief Markus Zusak Penguin Random House  $    2.49 +2
2 (1) Sycamore Row John Grisham Penguin Random House  $    3.29 -1
3 (16) The Goldfinch Donna Tartt Hachette  $    1.79 +13
4 (2) Divergent (Divergent Series) Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    3.99 -2
5 (4) Allegiant Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    3.49 -1
6 (5) Takedown Twenty: A Stephanie Plum Novel Janet Evanovich Penguin Random House  $    6.49 -1
7 (7) Insurgent (Divergent Series) Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    6.99
8 (n/a) The Gods of Guilt (Lincoln Lawyer) Michael Connelly Hachette  $    7.50 New
9 (8) Mockingjay (The Hunger Games Book: #3) : Suzanne Collins Scholastic  $    6.99 -1
10 (6) Cross My Heart (Alex Cross) James Patterson Hachette  $    7.49 -4
11 (n/a) The Widow File S.G. Redling Amazon  $    4.99 New
12 (n/a) Command Authority (A Jack Ryan Novel) Tom Clancy; Mark Greaney Penguin Random House  $    7.50 New
13 (9) King and Maxwell (King & Maxwell) David Baldacci Hachette  $    7.50 -4
14 (12) The Longest Ride Nicholas Sparks Hachette  $    3.29 -2
15 (11) The Husband’s Secret Liane Moriarty Penguin Random House  $    5.99 -4
16 (20) Gone Girl: A Novel Gillian Flynn Penguin Random House  $    3.29 +4
17 (n/a) Timebound Rysa Walker Amazon  $    4.99 New
18 (19) Killing Jesus: A History Bill O’Reilly; Martin Dugard Macmillan  $    3.29 +1
19 (13) The Fault in Our Stars John Green Penguin Random House  $    2.99 -6
20 (18) Doctor Sleep: A Novel (The Shining) Stephen King Simon & Schuster  $    7.49 -2
21 (10) Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) Suzanne Collins Scholastic  $    6.34 -11
22 (21) Dust (A Scarpetta Novel) Patricia Cornwell Penguin Random House  $    7.49 -1
23 (14) Ender’s Game: 1 (The Ender Quintet) Orson Scott Card Macmillan  $    1.99 -9
24 (n/a) George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones 5-Book Boxed Set (Song of Ice and Fire Series): A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons George R.R. Martin Penguin Random House  $    9.99 New
25 (n/a) Inferno: A Novel (Robert Langdon) Dan Brown Penguin Random House  $    3.99 New

* Previous week’s list rank in parentheses.

** Price reflects minimum price across all retailers throughout the week. Price may vary between retailers and may change throughout the week. Contact Iobyte Solutions for more information on ebook pricing. Methodology available here.

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11 thoughts on “Retailers Sink Ebook Best-Seller Prices to Lowest Levels Ever With Holiday Discounting

  1. Pingback: Retailers Sink Ebook Best-Seller Prices to Lowest Levels Ever With Holiday … – Digital Book World » red book

  2. Michael W. Perry

    I tried a John Grisham novel once and gave up after about three chapters. It was so awful, if I saw it marketed for $3.29 (as above) my first thought would be, \No, they’re going to have to pay me a lot more than that to read it.\ About $30 an hour in fact, maybe $40.

    I did learn something from enduring Grisham that long. In concluded that there are two ways to write thrillers.

    1. In one approach, you write to the prejudices of your audience. If they think spy satellites can buzz around over a country like bees, then that’s what you write. That’s Grisham.

    2. In the other, you write for people who, however much they know, insist that an author take the time to get facts right. In a Tom Clancy novel, you’ll find spy satellites confined to fix orbits that can only be changed with great bother.

    Those who like one approach typically dislike the other.

    These price drops are hardly surprising. The absurdity of DOJ lawyers and a court dictating what the ‘right’ price for an ebook is obvious, as is the hypocrisy of lawyers pulling in $500/hour claiming greed of a publisher who sells a popular bestselling ebook for $14.99 rather than $12.99.

    Ebooks have a fixed cost of production and a virtually zero cost of reproduction. That inevitably drives the cost down as publishers compete for a limited resource–the number of people who want to read a particular kind of book on a digital device. Given that limitation, the best way to compete is by lowering prices, particularly over the holidays or during summer vacations.

    Ebooks are, quite likely, the freest market in human history. Having the government meddle in their pricing makes about as much sense as having it dictate the price that lake water can be sold for on the shores of a freely accessible lake.

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  7. Sharon Miller

    I have not found these prices at any online retailer’s site. Amazon/Kindle and Barnes & Noble/Nook, Kobo store–even Google Play–do not offer these low prices–all of them retain their original full prices. I visited publisher’s sites, did google searches, and NOWHERE were these prices offered. I did this over the course of several days so where ever Jeremy Greenfield is getting his statistics is a huge mystery. I should think if you were going to publish such an article, the least you could do is link to the source where the price is available. Otherwise, the information is questionable at best or outright untrue at worst.

        1. Jeremy Greenfield Post author

          As you can see from the article, these are the best-sellers from the week of Dec 8. Prices change daily and sometimes minute to minute. I bought my copy of The Goldfinch about a week and a half ago for $2.99 from Amazon. Throughout the rest of the week I saw it multiple times for $1.79. We spell out our methodology very clearly here:

          Let me know if you have any other questions about how the data is gathered and when it’s gathered.



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