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Friday, 16th October 2009

Price War Breaks Out Between Amazon and Wal-Mart over 10 New Books

In this time of eBook, eBooks and more eBooks we think it's worth noting that a price war has broken out over 10 pre-order hard cover titles. We wonder if it more books will be added to the list, the price keeps getting reduced, and if other online book providers will join in.

It began yesterday when Wal-Mart announced that they were reducing the price of ten titles to $10 for books purchased on Walmart.com. Then, Amazon.com came back by lowering the price for those same titles to $9. This morning (Friday), Wal-Mart returned the volley and is now selling the books for $9. Is it Amazon.com's move again? Will have to keep checking the Amazon.com site.

The list of the 10 titles via the WalMart.com site.

Here are five $9 titles from the list with comparison prices from Powells and BN.com (Barnes & Noble). We did this check on Friday, October 16, 2009. 10am EDST and at 7pm EDST.

+ Going Rogue by Sarah Palin
$28.99 at Powells and $17.39 ($15.65 for members)
at Barnes & Noble

+ Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
$27.99 at Powells and $16.79 ($15.11 for members)
at Barnes & Noble

+ Under the Dome by Stephen King
$35 at Powells and $21.00 ($18.90 for members) at Barnes & Noble

+ Ford County by John Grisham
$24 at Powells and $14.40 ($12.96 for members) at Barnes & Noble

+ Breathless by Dean Koontz
$28 at Powells and $16.80 ($15.12 for members) at Barnes and Noble

From the Wall Street Journal

Wal-Mart's $10 promotion applies to the top 10 books coming out in November but the company is also selling 200 best-sellers for 50% of their list price.

The price war sent shivers through the publishing world. Wal-Mart's move, and similarly low prices for electronic books, may ultimately condition consumers to expect new titles to cost $10, a price that would force the publishing industry to re-scale its entire business, including the advances paid to writers.

[Snip]

James Patterson, whose coming novel, "I, Alex Cross," is being discounted from $27.99 to $10, said he was happy to be in Wal-Mart's top 10. However, he warned any industry that sets low price points may later have a difficult time re-establishing those prices. "Obviously e-books have gotten this thing going," said Mr. Patterson. "E-books are terrific and here to stay. But I think that people need to think through the repercussions....But I'm not taking sides....I'm not the endangered species here."

Wal-Mart said it wasn't trying to match the price of electronic books. Still, the $10 price tag coincides with the $9.99 that Amazon.com charges for its Kindle e-reader best-sellers

[Snip]

Wal-Mart declined to discuss whether it was losing money on the $10 book promotion, which includes free shipping. But the answer is almost certainly yes.

[Snip]

Diana Abbott, manager of the Bookworm, an independent bookstore in Omaha, Neb. said that some independents will likely lose some business on the titles involved. "We've been fighting deep discounting for a long time, although $10 is obviously an extreme," said Ms. Abbott. "But there is a strong element of loyalty to independents....We'll survive this."

Author Dean Koontz is also quoted in the article.

Access the Complete Article

Source: WSJ


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