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Summary:

Following the success of its “Sunshine Deals” promotion, Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) is running an even bigger sale on Kindle books: The Big Deal, w…

Book shelf, book store
photo: Getty Images / Ralph Orlowski

Following the success of its “Sunshine Deals” promotion, Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) is running an even bigger sale on Kindle books: The Big Deal, with over 900 titles on sale for $0.99, $1.99, $2.99 and $3.99 through July 27. And here’s the kicker: For the first time ever, Big 6 publishers like Random House are participating in the sale.

The “big six” publishers–Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster (NYSE: CBS), Penguin and Macmillan–use the agency model for e-book pricing: They set prices for their e-books, and retailers like Amazon sell them at that price and receive a 30 percent commission. Under the wholesale model, which most other publishers are using, publishers set the list price for their e-books and retailers can then sell them at whatever price they want.

Amazon worked in collaboration with publishers on its Sunshine Deals promotion, but since all of the titles included were sold under the wholesale model it could have just put those books on sale anyway. This time–for the first time–some big 6 publishers are participating in the sale and bringing down the prices of their e-books.

Which big 6 pubs are included? I haven’t gone through every title on the list (though that’s the type of task that could actually be pretty enlightening in an instance like this) but so far I see titles from Random House, HarperCollins and Macmillan. Literary fiction wasn’t a big part of Sunshine Deals, but this time Random House has included a few literary fiction titles in the promotion, like Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Both those books are set at $3.99–a price category that wasn’t included last time in Sunshine Deals, which discounted books at $0.99, $1.99 and $2.99.

Interestingly, the titles from agency model publishers that are on sale at Amazon are not on sale for the same prices at other e-tailers, like the Nook Store. Commencement is $7.99 at the Nook Store, for instance. I’d thought that the agency model required publishers to set the same e-book prices at retailers across the board, but I guess not. Update: When the promotion started yesterday prices were still different at various stores (i.e., higher at the Nook store) but now it looks as though the prices have standardized across retailers, so an e-book that’s $3.99 on Kindle is $3.99 on Nook.

Anyway, this is the first time that any big 6 pubs have participated in a widescale e-book sale and I can’t wait to see what comes out of this. If you have thoughts, please put them in the comments.

  1. HighHeeledTraders Thursday, July 21, 2011

    thank you for this article  – I am just starting to learn about publishing business and can’t help thinking that the prices in eBook category are low, hopefully they are “old” stock whose costs have already been recovered and sales are just being reinvirogated. 

  2. Richard Crasta Friday, July 22, 2011

    Hi, I think it is not very considerate to independent authors like me who are struggling to make a living. I was formerly published by big publishers, but now publish on Amazon independently. An author who is selling 100,000 book can afford to have books Kindle priced at $2.99, but not one who is selling 50-200 books.

    The model hurts the independents, and I thought the very idea of e-book publishing was to empower the independents.
    Richard Crasta, author of I WILL NOT GO THE F**K TO SLEEP  & THE REVISED KAMA SUTRA

  3. Richard Crasta Friday, July 22, 2011

    To expand on my above comment, there is no need for mega-authors and mega-publishers, who have such a big slice of the pie already, to take a bit of the small pie shared by thousands of tiny authors. Sale pricing at $5.99 would have been fair; at $2.99, how is an independent author supposed to get noticed and to get buy?
    Richard Crastahttp://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001ICH6H4 http://bit.ly/jazP3W
    http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/richardcrasta

  4. Candace Smith Friday, July 22, 2011

    I am published traditionally.  As an author, I get such a small amount at regular prices, that when the Indies publish at 99 cents and 2.99, it has always affected me.  The sale makes no difference to me (I’m not in one of the big houses).  I rely on my writing and following, which has held up.  The price, author, or house should not matter if your works uphold a standard and readership following,  You want to see something upsetting?  Go to Limewire or D4All and watch the thousands of copies of your books that are downloaded for free via torrent, etc.  Like most beginning authors, I just want to make a decent amount off my writing.  Be confident that if you’ve produced a good work, readers will run through the ‘fluff’, even from these promotions.  I know it’s frustrating, but hang in there…

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