Today, my latest piece on eBook prices has been published on RegHardware, and it’s generating quite a lot of comments. A few of those have suggested using public libraries as an alternative source of borrowing books – it’s worth reading this to see why that may not be such a simple option.
For those who want to recap, I’ve been tracking the prices of some eBooks here since Amazon launched Kindle, and comparing with how much I paid originally for some that I bought from Waterstones.
The first comparison is from August of this year. A collection of eBooks that originally cost £203.39 from Waterstones (some bought when VAT was lower) would now cost £239.59, or just £158.97 from Amazon, or £205.61 from WH Smith. Adjusting the original prices for the current 17.5% VAT rate would give £205.56.
In late August, I looked at just four books that I bought to take on holiday. Amazon: £17.12. WH Smith: £17.18. Waterstones: £33.86.
Around the end of October I checked prices again. At this stage, some of the titles in my comparison weren’t available from WH Smith and Waterstones – it turns out this was a prelude to the introduction of agency pricing. I was able to compare 21 that were available then and in August. Amazon: August £87.16, October £84.30. WH Smith: August £110.95, October £108.26. Waterstones: August £113.10, October £130.43.
Finally, for the November comparison I as published in RegHardware, most of the books are now available, so I can give a price again for the full 36 title selection. (Where some are not available on certain stores, I’ve used the publisher-set price quoted on Amazon, which it’s likely all will have to sell for eventually).
That gives the November prices: Amazon £184.62. WH Smith: £205.95. Waterstones: £227.95.
Here is a graph for the 21 book set. Note that three books were shown as not available from WH Smith but were priced identically at the other two stores, and I have used that price to compile the graph.