Price War Over Books Worries Industry

A tit-for-tat price war between Wal-Mart and Amazon accelerated late on Friday afternoon when Wal-Mart shaved another cent off its already rock-bottom prices for hardcover editions of some of the coming holiday season’s biggest potential best sellers, offering them online for $8.99 apiece.

“If readers come to believe that the value of a new book is $10, publishing as we know it is over,” said David Gernert, Mr. Grisham’s literary agent. “If you can buy Stephen King’s new novel or John Grisham’s ‘Ford County’ for $10, why would you buy a brilliant first novel for $25? I think we underestimate the effect to which extremely discounted best sellers take the consumer’s attention away from emerging writers.”

Article in the NYT

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Who pays full price for hardcovers today?

I don't know anyone who pays full price now, and I know a lot of readers who will run to the bookstore to get the latest by a favorite author. Big chain bookstores offer bestsellers at a discount (30-40% by my memory), and a lot are in retailers like Costco for less than that. Or you wait for the first used copies to show up, which they do in my area pretty rapidly. I wonder what the figures are for how many consumers actually pay list price for a new hardcover. Nevermind what Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Borders paid to get the book to sell, what do they sell for? That would be the more telling statistic, I think.

There is an assumption by the publishers

that books HAVE to be at a certain price. Who says any book is worth $25. I don't think that any fiction book is worth that much. I'd never buy a new fiction book for anything approaching that price.
We know that most of the cost is profit margin (which is even more evident now approaching Christmas where in the UK WH Smiths is selling various new books at half price) so why should we pay an arbitrary reccomended price?
So say a book is $25 and it's on offer for $10 for 1 month. Then it goes up to $20. Why would anyone buy this book? It's already been devalued down to $10, the extra $10 is obviously all profit (not always the case but you know what I mean, it's what people perceive). By having special offers to sell more they are damaging their own brands.

Maybe the price SHOULD be $10 for all fiction books?

indie booksellers

Newsday reports on how the price war impacts local booksellers.

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