Shopping for NYT Bestsellers in e-Book Form

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The opening of the Borders e-book store completes the collection of big booksellers now selling e-books. Amazon has been selling them since launching the Kindle reader, Apple opened the iBookstore with the launch of the iPad and Barnes & Noble has been selling digital books for a while. Consumers now have a pretty good choice for purchasing e-books, and since these stores have apps on various device platforms — meaning content is not tied to a single device — it is prudent to do a little comparison shopping to see which store has the best book availability.

Many e-book readers are buying fiction, so the logical place to start our digital window shopping is the New York Times Bestseller list. We took the top ten books on today’s hardcover list and checked availability and pricing with the four booksellers.

Sadly, price checking shows that publisher’s agency pricing is firmly in place, with all four retailers selling all books on the list for the same price. Books falling under the agency pricing, which covers new releases, have the prices fixed by the publisher. Every book on the NYT bestsellers list is either $9.99 or $12.99 as a result. The only variable was that some stores did not have every book on the list available. The two newest stores, Borders and iBookstore, were each missing four of the ten books on the list, although each was missing different titles. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble had all ten of the books on the list.

This exercise demonstrates that if you read mostly recently released novels then you can shop at any of these stores as far as pricing goes. While each of the stores has its own electronic reader, all of them have reader apps for smartphones that enable the use of this content. For example — Amazon’s content can be used on many different devices, as in addition to reading books on the Kindle, there is a Kindle app for the iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, PC and Macs. If you have one of these devices you can likely use readers from multiple stores.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Irrational Exuberance Over E-Books?

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