Do Aussie Publishers Charge too much for ebooks?
I recently looked at a small Australian independent publisher’s website and noticed the high prices they were charging for ebooks: many were $17.99 as compared to the average price of a new bestseller on Amazon of $9.99. I was willing to give a small independent publisher a break: their books would not have the high sales of a bestseller so they would have to charge more to recoup their costs. But then I thought what are the bigger Australian publishers charging?
First I checked Scribe. Scribe had links on their website to various sellers of their ebooks. An ebook of Machine Man, by Max Barry, cost from $17-$19 on Booki.sh, depending on which independent Australian bookstore you purchased it form. An ibook version cost $18.99, a Google version $12.55, a Kobo version $12.49, it was a whopping $21.00 on ebooks.com, and $9.99 on Amazon.
I found most Scribe ebooks cost between $9.99 and $14.99 on Amazon. Their ebooks were nearly always much dearer on the other sites, although some were heavily discounted on Google. Ibook ebooks were usually $6-$7 dearer. Overall, only Amazon’s pricing enabled Scribe’s ebooks to be competitively priced on the world stage.
Next I checked UQP (University of Queensland Press). A statement on their website’s ebook page says they are in the process of displaying prices on their ebooks. That page also had links to three ebooks. Unfortunately, one link lead to an error message on Amazon, another link lead to a paperback version of a book, and the third link lead to a title and author but no pricing information.
UQP’s ebook page does have a link to Booku.com, where $14.06 was a common price for an ebook. The majority of ebooks on Booku were well over $14.00. The UQP pages says their ebooks are on sale on Amazon and ibooks, but I had a hard time finding any.
Next I checked Freemantle Press. Nearly all their ebooks are available on Amazon, with some on ibooks, ebooks.com and Readings. On Amazon Freemantle Press’ ebooks were priced at around $9.99, on ibooks they were usually $6 more than Amazon. Many of their ebooks were priced at $17.46 on ebooks.com. I would suggest the only thing ebooks.com has going for it is its address.
The last Australian Publisher I checked was Random House. They should also do something about their website. For each ebook on their website a high RRP is quoted, but their listed ebook sellers usually sell it for much less. For example, Elliot Pearlmans’s The Street Sweeper was priced at $21.95 on Random House’s website, but if you clicked on the Amazon link it was $12.80. On Google The Street Sweeper was $10.99.
The Random House links to ibooks consistently went just to the store and not the actual ebook. Random House’s ebooks were usually around $9.99 on Amazon. On Google they were usually a few dollars more. All of the prices on the Random House website seem to be the same as the price of that ebook on ebook.com, generally around $20.
I started my quick survey fearing Australian publishers might be charging too much for their ebooks to compete with overseas publishers. Freemantle Press and Random House seemed to be price competitive on Amazon. But if the ebooks were purchased from any site other than Amazon, the price of Australian Published ebooks seemed too high to compete with overseas publishers.
I was also left wondering how Apple’s ibooks could possibly compete with Amazon’s much cheaper ebooks.