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When Amazon Reduces Your Print Book Prices Unexpectedly

When Amazon Reduces Your Print Book Prices Unexpectedly

screen shot of Amazon print price cut

Amazon print price cuts, what they mean, and how to make the most of them

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! 

screenshot of Amazon book listing showing print price cut

Amazon usually starts to reduce the print price of my December-themed book from January onward

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.

screenshort of discounted first in series

Some views only show the final selling price rather than the discounted price

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

 

 

 

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. OH dear, not sure about this anymore. Amazon has reduced my paperback FIVE times in one week. It is now priced at £2.49, whereas my royalty payment for each sale is set at £2.57. How’s that going to work. Will Amazon really pay 8p every time someone purchases a copy? No idea.

    If only I had a credit card and still lived in the UK, I could buy my own books, become a best seller, then get all what I paid back in royalties. Grrr.

  2. My paperback Playing Out: Swings and Roundabouts has been reduced, after reading this I feel like SHOUTING about it. Actually forget, feel like, I’ll post LOUDLY on Twitter and Facebook.

  3. Thank you for this information, even though I’m not self-published this was useful. At first, I thought they reduced it, because it wasn’t selling well. Some other websites said, if it reached a certain ranking you were not selling any books. I was disappointed, because my marketing “tools” are limited and I was not sure how to promote it more. I am expecting my first, royalty statement, next month.

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Debbie Young

Debbie Young writes warm, funny feel-good fiction, including the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series, which begins with the bestselling "Best Murder in Show". As ALLi's Author Advice Center Manager, she also writes guidebooks for authors. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, she is a frequent speaker at other literary events. Find out more about Debbie's writing life on her author website www.authordebbieyoung.com.

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