Are publishers taking the plunge into experimenting with e-book pricing? Today Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) quietly launched Kindle Sunshine Deals, a two-week promotion pricing about 650 Kindle books “from numerous bestselling and award-winning authors” at $0.99, $1.99, and $2.99. While individual authors have seen success putting their e-books on sale, this promotion is unique because of its scale and because it is being run by Amazon
and appears to be in collaboration with book publishers.
As far as we can tell, no e-books published by the “big six” U.S. publishers (which use the agency model, setting their own prices for e-books on Amazon and paying Amazon a commission) are included in the sale. The books included in Sunshine Deals are all from small- to mid-sized publishers like Candlewick, Bloomsbury, Sourcebooks, and Tyndale House. Also included is Open Road Integrated Media’s edition of William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice. Chelsea Handler’s My Horizontal Life, published by Bloomsbury in 2008, is currently the bestselling Sunshine title.
Most of the titles are at least a year old. However, Amazon is offering Sunshine Deals for pre-order on two romance books published by Sourcebooks: Soldier by Grace Burrowes, which will be released June 7, and Wish You Were Here by Philippa Ashley, which will be released June 14.
Most book publishers have little experience experimenting with e-book pricing or marketing books directly to customers. We’re guessing that this promotion is serving as a test case for them to try out a range of low prices, particularly on older e-books (or, as in the case of the two books above, on books approaching their publication dates). Update: This is correct. Sunshine Deals is “an opportunity for publishers to test compelling pricing coupled with on-site merchandising,” Sarah Gelman, PR Manager at Amazon, told us. “We’re excited about the number of publishers who are participating.”
Little data about the effect of pricing on e-book sales is currently available, and most of it is anecdotal or preliminary. (Thriller author JA Konrath, for instance, who has written extensively about e-book pricing models, believes $2.99 should be the e-book price standard. If the books in the Sunshine Deals promotion do well, we may see more publishers offering sales on their e-books–or working with Amazon to run more promotions. (It’s unlikely that we’ll see any data from Amazon or the publishers themselves on how well the books sold. But we’ll be watching the Amazon Kindle bestseller list to see how many Sunshine Deals titles cross over onto it.)