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Do book prices tend to change with seasonality? I'm especially interested in:

  • Do prices tend to increase, decrease, or stay the same during the holiday season (i.e. Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.)?
  • Is there a most expensive season for book prices?
  • Do eBook prices have different trends than paperback book prices?

For geographical context, this question is about books sales in the northeastern areas of the United States. I mostly shop for books at Barnes & Noble, so I'd be most interested to know how their prices fluctuate.

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Do prices tend to increase, decrease, or stay the same during the holiday season (i.e. Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.)?

From my experience, book prices tend to be reduced around the holiday season, September-January, to drive sales when some people buy tablets or mobile devices as gifts or even on Black Friday. Depending on the e-retailer there are some programs you can sign-up for that will help drive a sell, such as package deals. I've seen some publishers drive prices lower than usual when they have a feature series they are trying to push.

Is there a most expensive season for book prices?

I wouldn't consider it a "most expensive" I would look at it as less discounts or specials in the transition from spring to summer but that's my experience.

Do eBook prices have different trends than paperback book prices?

The only trend I would consider is the pricing model with printed books VS ebooks. Some people think that it's OK to price retail for print when some people refuse to pay the same price for a physical item compared to a digital copy. One of my dislikes with ebooks compared to print is the design around them. Some people think that as long as I take my well designed print book and copy all the text and drop it into a .doc file I can generate an .epub or .mobi file out of it then charge a bloated fee when you don't get the same quality as a printed or even own the rights to it.

For geographical context, this question is about books sales in the northeastern areas of the United States. I mostly shop for books at Barnes & Noble, so I'd be most interested to know how their prices fluctuate.

In regards to pricing e-retailer VS e-retailer you actually sign away your pricing rights, such as: Amazon mentions in their contract that if they find a cheaper price for your title they are allowed up to a 10% option for less and I believe Apple does it, too. The downfall with many stores is the gouge to sell your title and that will play a factor on where you buy your book and the price.

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As for ebook prices, they are more variable than paper books ones. I am the editor of a (small) book series published only as ebooks: the published settled for an official price of 1.99€ and often slashes the price to 0.99€ for a week. This is really easy to do: it suffices to tell the e-stores about the promotion.

(at least in Italy we face another problem. There is a law regulating offers for paper books, so you cannot have a discount of more than 15% in general, or 25% for a month a year. Ebooks are however considered a piece of software, so they have a far higher VAT but there is no limitation for discounts)

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Every publishing company and author have ideas about how to price well.

I don't have anything to add except:

with print books, initial prices are high and then they fall -- and are eventually remaindered. (I realize that print on demand is another story though).

With ebooks, initial prices are low and then they gradually settle on a fixed price -- at which they stay. To the early bird comes the worm.

Finally, I should mention that old print books more than 5 years old are often sold used for less than a dollar plus shipping. The Dirty little secret of pricing ebook versions of these books is that used print books are often cheaper than their ebook price.

I track a lot of prices on ereaderiq and I plan prices on my company's own ebooks. And I should say that there's less discounting than you'd expect, with the exception of maybe the first two months and KDP Select books going free once every 2 months.

  • Have you ant data on " initial prices are low and then they gradually settle on a fixed price " virtually all the ebooks I have purchased have become cheaper over time – Mark Mar 17 '14 at 20:26
  • Not really, but maybe I should give examples. I see a lot of books starting for 99 cents (for a few weeks) and then reside permanently at 2.99 or 3.99. I suspect the titles you are referring to have higher price points because they are better known or by major publishers. Those titles start out very high. – idiotprogrammer Mar 19 '14 at 7:44
  • One other thing. Titles published simultaneously in print and ebook tend to have higher ebook prices because they don't want ebook sales to cannibalize print sales. I'm talking about titles exclusively available as ebooks. – idiotprogrammer Mar 19 '14 at 7:47
  • I accept that my view is seeing from mainly traditional publishing I would also note I am in the UK and prices here seem to behave differently from the US. – Mark Mar 19 '14 at 11:32

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