Home » Amazon, Bestsellers, Nook, Pricing » Average Ebook Prices – Comparing Kindle vs. Nook

Average Ebook Prices – Comparing Kindle vs. Nook

24 January 2012

From Booklr:

With the Kindle Fire, Nook, and e-readers constantly in the news, Booklr took a look at the prices in the Amazon Top 100 Kindle List and the Barnes & Noble Top 100 Nook List over the past week. The results might surprise you.  The price of ebooks from each retailer is not always uniform. Consumers should consider this important factor since once you choose a device, you’re locked in to that retailer.

Link to the rest at Booklr and thanks to Elizabeth for the tip.

UPDATE: There are lots of terrific comments to this post. Highlighting just two of many: Anthea and others talk about Barnes & Noble cooking the books for its bestsellers in order to favor books from Big Publishing. Jared spend his lunch hour going back and forth with  Booklr trying to figure out how they got their bestseller info for Barnes & Noble.

Amazon, Bestsellers, Nook, Pricing

32 Comments to “Average Ebook Prices – Comparing Kindle vs. Nook”

  1. This is very interesting, but since it’s only graphing the “Top 100″ lists it may say more about the populations that use the sites than the products offered through them. This is pure speculation on my part, but Kindle users may be more open to cheap self-published or older backlisted titles, whereas Nook users may be more likely to associate price with quality. The Nook users are probably also brick-and-mortar B&N customers more susceptible to the marketing efforts of big publishers, whereas the hordes in the anarchy of Amazon tend to follow the trends of other buyers.

    • Good points, T.K. I think there are also more low-priced indie books on Kindle than on Nook.

    • Before I had comparison data, I would have also guessed, as T.K. suggests, that Nook users are more likely to equate price with quality than Kindle users, and to assess the .99 price point as possibly being lower quality than another title priced higher. However, if that was true last year, it might be shifting a bit with the influx of new users who received Nook’s as gifts?

      For most of the holiday buying and post-buying season this month, my second title did much better on B&N Nook than my first title had during November. There are a lot of reasons why this could be the case, but here’s the strange thing… seldom do B&N sales pull even, or exceed, the Kindle sales, and title 2 did so. It even exceeded Kindle for a short period and then pulled even with Kindle sales for a subsequent 2 weeks. Since both titles are erotic romance short stories priced at .99, and sales of my first title jumped only subsequently to the spike in the purchases for title 2, I wonder if it’s at least partly due to changes in user price perception through increased Nook numbers, rather than just a case of users reading title 2, liking it, and then going back to buy title 1. That’s a nice thought, but being pragmatic, would it really be responsible for the whole spike in sales? Probably not.

      And just to make this more complicated, there’s a kink in my ability to accurately compare sales data for that period because Amazon took almost a month to fix a cover image display problem with title 2, which appears to have been a server update or population problem among their mirrored server banks (I had to request an escalation). In summary, depending on which server was “serving” the cover image to the requesting user, they might see the cover properly, as intended, or they might see the error message “no image available”) … this would explain why sales at Nook pulled even with Amazon for a couple weeks. However, it doesn’t explain why sales are still doing so since the problem has been fixed for over a week now. It also doesn’t explain the increased sales on Nook for title 1, since its cover was fine and had not issues during the holiday season.

      It might be that there are enough new Nook users who don’t have a fixed opinion of pricing in the same way the early users of the device did? I’ll be interested to see a year’s worth of data to compare, and also to see how my upcoming full length will do in both markets.

  2. There are definitely more low priced books on Kindle than nook. I got a Kindle for Christmas and my husband got a Nook. We made those decisions purely on the basis of features (e-ink Kindle vs. e-ink Nook, Nook Color vs. Kindle Fire.)

    Even as much as I know about ebooks it did not occur to me to look at prices of books available. After we got the readers, we did find it easier to find books on the Kindle. Even though I’m a writer, when I just plunked down $100 or more for a reader, I can’t bring myself to pay the same for an e-book as a hardback! What baffles me is according the publishers are going from “all to nothing” without having tried the in-between. They would have gotten us as readers at the in-between

    • I just realized that my comments also take into account the “E-book prices get slashed” post.

  3. People have observed right here on this blog (http://www.thepassivevoice.com/02/2011/cooking-the-books-the-new-york-times-and-nook-ebook-bestsellers/) that B&N seems to tweak their lists in favor of big publishing. That fact that there are NO Top 100 Nook titles under $2, and 35 at Amazon? Something’s stinky.

    • I like the conspiracy theory, Anthea.

      • It’s more than just a conspiracy theory. There is considerable anecdotal evidence from indie authors who were doing well on B&N (usually Romance), that B&N changed things up some time last year (around summer), to specifically exclude lower priced books from the Top 100. Some authors were selling at a level where they should have been in the chart and weren’t. Others dropped out from really high positions (Top 20) overnight, with no drop off in sales. Others again regained their position as soon as they raised their price to $3.99 or $4.99 with no real change in sales numbers.

        It’s not cast-iron proof, but it seems pretty clear to me what happened: B&N made a business decision to only include higher priced books in the Top 100, because they earn more per sale from higher priced books, and wanted to give the extra exposure to those exclusively.

        It’s a typically short-sighted move from B&N, not realizing that by taking the hit on those cheap books now (i.e. by giving exposure to those titles which earn them less), they will shift more devices over the long term.

        Now Amazon have a great marketing angle: Buy A Kindle, Our E-Books Are Always Cheaper.

        Of course, the horrible search and the terrible categorization of books makes discovery of indie titles next-to-impossible, but the Top 100 is cooked – I’m sure of it.

        • The lists were flooded with Erotic fiction – I couldn’t even find a Harlequin, let alone any of the ‘vanilla’ romances.

          The algorythms weren’t right – so they did it the easy way, added 1000 to the pubit books and dropped them all out.

          It was a stupid way to handle it.

    • Anthea already brought up what I was going to comment on. The B&N search engine and algorithms are not Indie friendly. B&N has in the past changed things so Indies dropped off bestselling lists. Yes, B&N has a different demographic of buyers, but let’s face it, most Indies posting to B&N use the same price as on Amazon. It’s not because the books aren’t there, it’s because they don’t come up in simple searching and browsing.

      Combine B&N playing with the stats to show what they want, and a demographic that zero in on only what they’ve wanted in the past and most likely couldn’t find what they wanted if they tried to branch out anyway… Well, the results are obvious.

      I shrugged when I saw the comparison. Nothing new there.

  4. For me, the audiences of the 2 sites are very different. Nook readers leave lots of reviews or stars. I have 58 reviews on Dream Horse at BN and 4 at Amazon even though it’s sold over 700 copies this month there. 93 on Summer Horse at BN, 2 at Amazon. There are more drunk trolls at Amazon than BN; you’re more likely, or I am, to be savaged in a 1 star review at Amazon. There is a stronger audience for children’s material at BN than Amazon although that is shifting somewhat.

    I agree with Erin. I can barely find my own books at BN the site is so difficult to navigate and Amazon has all those neat drill-down rankings where it’s possible for almost everyone to win a plastic trophy.

    • Interesting contrast of reviewing behavior, Barbara.

      I wonder if part of this is because most book buyers also use Amazon to purchase lots of other items as well. It would take me a long time to write a review of everything I buy on Amazon.

      • I got a heat gun to thaw the pipes! I got some special muesli that’s been discontinued at the local supermarket and it’s cheaper with Amazon Prime scheduled delivery. I got a great lantern for when the power goes out and a crank/solar radio. Tip of the iceberg.

        Yeah, start reviewing all the stuff from Amazon, ain’t gonna happen.

    • Barbara – I am wondering what you mean by a stronger audience for kids material at BN over Amazon. Do you just mean picture books because of the Nook? Or do you mean all kids books (including kids novels in middle grade.)

      I ask because I am about to independently publish a middle grade, and I was considering putting it on Amazon Prime. I don’t plan to do a huge amount of marketing until I put out my second book and Prime seems to get you put higher on the lists somewhere (As far as I can tell: I’ve been watching some numbers of different books trying to read the tea leaves.)

      • I do middle reader aka “Tween” so I don’t know about picture books and how they do. Although I have illustrated my books with photos.

        Really? You think Kindle Select helps? I haven’t seen it help my YAs in the least. Nothing. Epic Fail. Sorry I put Bad Apple 1 in the program/can’t wait for the 90 days to be over. But they’re not paranormals, not a vampire in sight.

        I would never take my horse books off BN because last Christmas, Summer Horse got to #442 overall, no drill down ranking, cutting the slices real thin. In the top 1000.

        I would try everything first and Kindle Select as a last recourse. YMMV.

        • Barbara – Thanks! I find this interesting. I have just been following three YA/MG indie books that I know in particular, and so far the two not in Prime but with a big push from their authors to market at blogs etc. are not doing as well in ranking as the one *in* prime with no web presence from the author. In my opinion, they are similar in writing level. But given your data I am going to do some more thinking before I enroll in Prime!

  5. Just adding my own data point:

    I price my romantic comedies (a popular genre on Barnes & Noble, especially if “romantic comedy” is in the parenthesis of the title) at $3.99 and sell better on BN than anywhere else. When I had a 99c novella, it went nowhere.

    I know I’m an outlier; few writers do better on BN than on Amazon. But I do wonder if pricing higher has something to do with it (in addition to the large number of romance-reading Nook owners.)

    • I should add that I’m very small potatoes. What I call “selling well” on BN was still considered “nothing” by many KBers who dumped BN to go exclusive on Amazon. (But it was still more than $100/month, which I’m cheap enough to cherish.)

  6. Google shows me nothing called the “Barnes & Noble Top 100 Nook List”. But I just went through the Top 100 NOOKbooks webpage and counted 35 books priced under $2. That instantaneous percentage is the same as Amazon’s (although may be different when you integrate over a two-week period).

    I do not understand how they came up with 0%.

  7. I’m calling bullsh!t.

    Last time I did a search for ‘free’ books on my Nook I had 20 pages. “Impressive Bravado” is mine and it’s free. I also pick up a free book every Friday if I look for it.

    Same with $2.99 – there were PAGES of titles.

  8. Hey…did anyone else notice that the percentages for Amazon add up to more than 123%?

    This infographic is all sorts of messed up.

    • Thanks for pointing that out.

      • I looked at it — it’s because they count the ‘under $2′ titles in the ‘under $6′ titles twice. At least, that’s how I read it. And the reason the Nook % is only 79 is because there’s nothing being counted *between* 6 and 10 dollars, which would presumably be the other 21%. Wacky.

  9. Okay. I spent my lunch hour messing with this. I went around the B&N website and called their customer support (my ticket’s being escalated to webpage design).

    I also got an email by from Booklr.

    — My email to Booklr —

    Hello,

    I saw your infographic on the Amazon vs. BN Top 100 prices.

    I was unable to find anything called the “Barnes & Noble Top 100 Nook List” that your post refers to. I did find the “Top 100 NOOKbooks” (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks/category.asp?PID=35951&start=1), however. In that list, I counted 35 that were priced under $1. That is the same instantaneous percentage as Amazon’s one-week percentage.

    Could you please send me the link to the page where you got the “Top 100 Nook List” from, please? I would like to see how it compares to the NOOKbooks list.

    Thank you,
    Jared

    — Booklr’s response to me —

    Hi Jared, thanks for your email. The list we’re referring to when it comes to B&N is this list: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks/bestsellers.asp

    There are obviously different types of Top 100 lists but our report is referencing this one.

    If you have any other questions please let me know.

    Best,

    Jesse

    — My response to Booklr —

    Hi Jesse,

    Thanks for the response.

    Okay, the thrust of my concern is that I’m not sure you’re comparing apples to apples here.

    Look at the the Amazon Top 100 Paid Kindle List page: http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store/zgbs/digital-text

    Click on the ‘Learn more’ on the top and it explicitly says that the list is constructed from Kindle purchases.

    Now look at your list: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks/bestsellers.asp

    No such comment. (Also, the list you use is not called the ‘Barnes & Noble Top 100 Nook List’ like your infographic said, no so-named list exists. The infographic is kind of lying there.)

    Now look at the link I sent you: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooks/category.asp?pid=35951

    No such comment, either, but it’s name is ‘Top 100 NOOKbooks’ (which suggests it is measuring only ebook purchases) and it lets us compare the two.

    Your list has Waking Hours, Hunger Games #1, HG #2, HG #3, War Horse, and Heaven Is For Real.

    The list I sent has Waking Hours, HG #1, Practical Magic (not on your list), HG #2, HG #3, An Impossible Attraction (not on your list), Twelfth Grade Kills (not on your list), The Mill River (ebook only), War Horse, Burn (not on your list), and Heaven Is For Real.

    I suspect that your list is a list of Bestselling books that can be purchased on the Nook while my list is a list of Nook bestsellers. If so, they are totally different things. By analogy, one would be ‘bestselling novels translated into Czech’ and mine would be ‘bestselling Czech translations of novels’. Very different.

    Amazon’s list measures what people are reading on their Kindles and the B&N list you are using (I suspect) gives the subset of what ALL B&N bestsellers (meaning it includes physical books sold off of the website and maybe brick-and-mortar stores) that are available on the Nook. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. And what the infographic says may be, at best, misrepresenting what is shown or, at worst, factually incorrect.

    I’m not sure if I’m getting my fears across. If you have time today, I’d be happy call and talk to you about it.

    Jared

    We shall see if they respond.

    TL;DR. The infographic may be misrepresenting what they say they’re measuring. Don’t trust it.

    • Thanks for sharing this, Jared.

    • And I did get a response.

      — From Booklr —

      Thanks for your note Jared. We’ve written to B&N about how they calculate their various lists. We do understand your concerns and want to ensure we are comparing similar criteria. Also going forward we will make sure to note the data sources more explicitly.

    • Wow, great work there, Jared. I think your description of the two B&N lists is dead-on, and that Booklr was NOT comparing the same subsets of data. Keep us posted. :)

  10. I suspect Jared is right about what is skewing the lists. I can only add my small datapoint:

    I tried to run a “high price” experiment where I raised the price of my novels to 6.99. Sony raised the price… then discounted instantly, so Amazon never raised the price on my main commercial book, and I never got to test the price. Smashwords was so backlogged on their user service that I never did get the price raised up on Sony, and so I gave up on the experiment.

    However, at B&N went up as scheduled, and sales of that book doubled. Can’t say this means anything other than that a lot of Nooks sold over the holiday, though.

    I also like to offer free books on B&N. It doesn’t seem to help other books as well as freebies on Amazon, however, when a free book goes back to priced, it sells better on B&N.

    When I look at long term figures, though, I can only shrug and say every vendor is different. C’est la guerre.

  11. Jared is absolutely right. The Nook data is very different from what I have been measuring. The average price of a Nook bestseller hasn’t been above $8 since last summer. As of today, the average price of a Nook bestseller is $6.17 (compared to $7.09 for Kindle) with 51 titles below $3. Since August, the Nook bestseller average has fluctuated between $5.00 and $7.80.

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