- More than a third of bestselling books cost more as an e-book than as a hardback, a survey has found.
In a survey of bestselling fiction and non-fiction on Amazon, e-books were priced higher than the same title in hardback in more than a third of cases, despite the cost savings of digital distribution.
JK Rowling’s new novel, The Casual Vacancy, costs £11.99 as an e-book, while the hardcover version is available for £9 due to an Amazon discount of £11 on the original list price.
The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, a book which accompanies the ITV series, is sold for £12.99 for Kindle but the hardback version costs £2 less after an Amazon discount of £10.
Tom Tivnan, from industry expert The Bookseller, said: “A price of £2-£3 off the average selling price, including discounts, would be a fair price that the public would be more willing to pay for e-books,” said . “If you can get The Casual Vacancy for £10 in hardback, publishers should try to price the e-book around £7-£8.”
Amazon revealed in August that it was selling 114 e-books to every 100 printed books in the UK. Although e-book sales figures have surpassed those for printed books for several years in the US, digital books have only recently begun to outsell the traditional variety in the UK.
Since its launch in 2010, the Kindle, Amazon’s e-reader, has proved popular among all age groups and has been hit with both men and women.
However, questions remain over the high price of e-books given that digital books have none of the production costs of printed books.
The European commission is currently carrying out an investigation into the e-book market following a recent European ruling declaring that publishers may have fallen foul of competition law by colluding to raise prices.
But some analysts say it does not make sense for e-books to be cheaper than hardbacks.
“The cost structure of a publisher is largely fixed so there’s no particular reason why the e-book should be cheaper than a print book, ” Benedict Evans at research company Enders Analysis said. The author’s mortgage doesn’t go down if you’re selling their work as an e-book.”
E-book sales make up 15 per cent of the books market, which is expected to be worth £260m in the UK this year.