Waterstones and Ebook Pricing

Waterstones have launched the Sony Reader in the UK!

Quick look at the pricing using two random books:

John Scalzi’s “The Ghost Brigades” (SF) is priced at £4.76 for the ebook version and £6.99 for paper.  However, Amazon has it for £4.28 (paper). 

Laura Lee Guhrke’s “The Wicked Ways of a Duke” (historical romance) is £4.79 at both Waterstones (ebook) and Amazon (paper). Waterstones is selling the paper version for £5.99.

Doing a price comparison against US sites – hmm… Fictionwise doesn’t have “The Ghost Brigades”, so obviously not a good example  😀

TWWoaD is being sold at Fictionwise for $6.29 if you’re not a Buywise Club member – roughly £3.55 (*sigh* it would have been around £3.20 several months ago – sign of the ever-weakening pound).  Or $5.35 (~£3) if you’re a Buywise member (Fictionwise prices also include rebates).

So based on my very unscientific survey and sample of one, my conclusions are:

  • UK ebooks are cheaper than their paper counterparts instore (good)
  • UK ebooks are about the same price as paper books from Amazon (bad, but I would argue that instant gratification makes the difference)
  • UK ebooks are more expensive than US ebooks (bad, but not wholly unexpected)
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8 thoughts on “Waterstones and Ebook Pricing

  1. I’m not sure I understand how UK ebooksellers can charge more than their US counterparts – surely, if people are buying online, they’ll just use the US stores? Or am I missing something really obvious?

  2. Completely agree with you! I would expect UK prices to fall over the next year or so as they figure out the “right” level (though that could just be wishful thinking). I think they are partly relying on people going for the easy and obvious choice, and not searching around for alternative sources online.

    On the other hand, I’ve never quite figured out how Waterstones makes money from their online book store, when other retailers such as Amazon and the Book Depository sell books at significantly lower prices…

  3. In my experiance ebook (especially from Waterstones) are much more expensive than paperbooks . Look at the prices for the Richard and Judy bookclub books £3.99 for the paperback, but closer to £10 for the ebook . I think this is disgraceful and is not encouraging the use of the technology.

  4. Jordie – I really don’t understand why pricing of ebooks is similar (or more!) to paper ones, surely paper books are more expensive to produce, whereas for ebooks, you just polish one single file and that’s it?

    Maybe we just need more entrants into the UK ebook market to bring prices down.

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