On the ALLi Member Facebook forum, we’re often asked: “Why has the Amazon print price changed from what I chose, how will it affect my royalties, and what should I do about it?”
In this post, ALLi’s Author Advice Center Manager Debbie Young answers these questions, reassure you that you will not be out of pocket, and suggests constructive ways to make the most of this potential promotional opportunity should it happen to your self-published books.
As indie authors, it’s down to us to set the prices for our books.
We generally take great care to set what we think is right for our books, so that it:
- matches market standards for the genre and page count
- offers the readers value for money
- earns us a reasonable margin
It’s harder to make a substantial margin on print books than on ebooks, because there is a much higher production cost – print, paper and shipping, compared to the simple transmission of a digital file.
So if you know your margin per print book is, say $1, at a retail price of $9.99, and you are startled to find one day when casually checking over your Amazon author page one day that your retail price has been reduced to $8.99 without you having changed the price yourself, it’s natural to wonder whose pocket will that $1 come from? Amazon’s or your own? And if it’s slashed by even more than your profit margin, will you make a loss?
Good news! Your royalty is based on the list price you set on your KDP Print page, not on the price at which Amazon chooses to sell it.
Why Amazon Reduces Print Book Prices
Usually, Amazon will change a book’s price because:
- its knowledge base indicates that you will sell more books at that price than the one you chose
- the book is already doing well and it thinks it will sell even better with a discount
Of course, this is not an altruistic decision on Amazon’s part: the more books you sell, the more money Amazon makes, and that it is priority.
Occasionally another reason might kick in:
- Amazon has a small number of a book in stock which isn’t selling, and it wants to free up warehouse space
I’ve seen radical cuts with my Christmas-theme short stories once the festive season’s over. By midsummer, a postcard-sized single short-story paperback usually priced £2.99 has been on sale at less than £1. My reaction? To order as many copies as they’ll let me (the maximum last summer was 8 – maybe their entire stock), to handsell the following Christmas.
In this case, my royalty was greater than the price I paid for each book – so Amazon was literally paying me to have copies of my own book!
Case Study of Series Pricing
Just as we might choose ourselves to offer the first in a series at a lower price, Amazon may do this for you – or reduce it further than you’ve done..
My first in series, for example, which I launched at £6.99 nearly two years ago, has never been listed at my chosen price. I put the price up this year to £7.99, and it’s now selling for £6.75. I’m slightly embarrassed that this undercuts the lowest price I can sell it to bookstores via IngramSpark, as I don’t want bricks-and-mortar stores to think that’s my policy, but I’m stuck with it – although I can change my prices on my KDP Print dashboard, I can’t override Amazon’s reduction. And I would probably unwise to try – I accept they know better than I do what price structure will work best for my series.
Interestingly, Amazon is also currently tweaking the prices of the rest of the books in the series. I set the list price for £8.99 for each, and it’s currently charging £7.41 for books 2 and 4, and full price for books 3 and 5. There will presumably be some precise mathematics that made them arrive at this odd price point and specific combination, but mine is not to reason why, mine is just to collect the royalties.
How to Capitalise on Amazon Print Book Price Cuts
If you spot a price cut, it’s worth shouting about it, because:
(a) it gives you a valid reason to talk about your book on social media – you’re being helpful to readers by flagging up a discount, not just saying “Oi, buy my book!”
(b) the price cut might sway a waverer to make a purchase
But act fast, because while some price cuts seem to be almost permanent, others revert within days or even hours.
And you’ll need to keep an eye on your author page to spot price cuts, because Amazon doesn’t give advance notice of temporary price cuts.
Print price cuts are not the same as when it signs you up to a Kindle Monthly Deal or Kindle Daily Deal, for which you are asked to agree set dates and terms in advance – and which you may, if you wish, turn down.
Three popular ways to capitalize on an Amazon print price discount are to:
- announce the price cut on your FB Facebook page
- tweet a link to the book’s Amazon page
- alert your mailing list
To avoid upsetting readers, it’s worth including a comment to say “short-term offer” or “offer ends soon”, so they won’t be disappointed if they click your link and find only the full price.
A price cut in your home territory, or the Amazon retail site in which you make the most sales, (which may or may not be the same), will not necessarily be replicated on all its stores.
Therefore when you alert your readers to special offers, specify which store sites are running it. I generally add a friendly comment such as “This is Amazon’s decision to make it UK only, not mine – so apologies to my non-UK friends”, or whatever is appropriate to the circumstances.
Your Reduced Book is in Good Company
If after reading the above you still feel uncomfortable about Amazon reducing your price, and wondering whether it makes you look like you’re book’s been reduced because nobody wants it, take heart: Amazon does this to its very bestselling books, such as a certain former First Lady’s memoir currently retailing at around half price in my local Amazon store at least.
Bottom line: Amazon reduced your print book price? It’s a compliment! Now, get on and tell the world!
PS I’ve never heard of Amazon increasing a book’s price compared to the author’s list price – but if that ever happens to you, we’d love to hear about it!
OVER TO YOU Have you been able to capitalise on Amazon price reductions? We’d love to hear how you made the most of them.#Indieauthors - worried about Amazon reducing the prices of your print books? We've got good news for you! @DebbieYoungBN explains what it means and how to make the most of it. Click To Tweet
OTHER POSTS ABOUT PRICING
From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive