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Thread: Amazon's price matching policy

  1. #1
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    Amazon's price matching policy

    Hi everyone

    Does anyone know what Amazon's current price matching policy is?
    Some third-party sellers like Kobo seem to discount books lower than Amazon, and I'm wondering if KDP would get upset. Would they ever have cause to remove an author's books from their website? Or would they simply price match?

    Tod

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    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    I don't know about their price matching policy, but I don't think they'd remove your book just because it's lower-priced elsewhere.

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by EMaree View Post
    I don't know about their price matching policy, but I don't think they'd remove your book just because it's lower-priced elsewhere.
    There are cases of books being removed from sale because the author explicitly set lower prices elsewhere. I believe mmeguillotine discussed it accidentally happening to her in her self-pub diary here.

    The author is responsible for setting the list price no higher at Amazon than at other retailers. If the retailer chooses to discount it from list price, that is not a violation and Amazon may price-match. In this case, there should be no repercussions for the author.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todsplace View Post
    Hi everyone

    Does anyone know what Amazon's current price matching policy is?
    Some third-party sellers like Kobo seem to discount books lower than Amazon, and I'm wondering if KDP would get upset. Would they ever have cause to remove an author's books from their website? Or would they simply price match?

    Tod
    Depends on if the author/publisher has deliberately lowered the price at one sales channel while keeping it higher at another. I know both Amazon KDP and Smashwords state that a title should be priced the same across all sales channels. Since Amazon KDP will not allow a book to be priced under $.99 cents, that is the minimum price if you want your titles on all sales channels possible.
    Last edited by merrihiatt; 01-25-2013 at 10:04 AM.
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  5. #5
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    Thank you for the responses everyone :-)

    That makes sense, but I was curious as to how Amazon can tell the difference between a deliberately lowered price and a third-party's internal decision to discount books.

    For example, some sellers might display: "99c discounted to 80c"

    Whereas other sights simply show the lowered price, giving Amazon now way to tell if this price was set by the author or set as a result of a rival store's discount decisions. For example, Kobo does not mention its discount percent, whereas Amazon always shows how much its discounting if there is one.

    In the latter case, an author would not be at fault.

  6. #6
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    You bring up an interesting question. I'm not sure of the answer, but here are a few of my thoughts.

    I don't know if you're uploading directly to Kobo or through Smashwords, but I find this bit of info on Smashwords comforting, "Smashwords retailers are not allowed to discount your books, unless they're price matching a lower-priced competitor (Best practice: keep your prices consistent). Kobo may still discount titles for sales transacted outside the US and Canada for currencies other than US or Canadian dollars." This text is included in the Smashwords Sales and Payment Report screen. So this indicates that unless you lower your price at a vendor or upload to a vendor that lowers your price, the price-matching problem with Amazon shouldn't occur.

    I think Amazon will only get upset if you set your price at Amazon at or above $2.99 to get the seventy-percent royalty and then set the price elsewhere to $.99. They would then price match to $.99, but you'd keep getting the seventy percent royalty. This became a pretty big problem on Amazon, and they were not happy. This is why some authors were booted. If you set your royalty at thirty-five percent no matter your price, I don't think Amazon will care how low the price goes. I currently have a perma-free on Amazon going on 2 years and have had no issues, but the Amazon default price has always been $.99 with 35% royalty possible (no royalties on free naturally).
    Last edited by Windvein; 01-26-2013 at 09:10 AM.

  7. #7
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    @Windvein: Okay, that's weird because I'm uploading to Kobo via Smashwords, and Kobo has discounted my books on their own accord. Am I the only one?

    One title I have is listed as $2.99 on KDP, while Kobo has knocked it to $2.85.

    Should I just remove it from Kobo for the time being until its sorted out? I would not like to get booted. Eek!

  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin DRMarvello's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todsplace View Post
    @Windvein: Okay, that's weird Should I just remove it from Kobo for the time being until its sorted out? I would not like to get booted. Eek!
    I don't think Amazon will kick you out of KDP just because Kobo is discounting your book. They expect things like that to happen. You set your list price at $2.99 in good faith, so you were in compliance with the KDP T&C.

    That said, Amazon may price match against Kobo so your price at Amazon.com drops to $2.85 as well.

    Amazon does make mistakes on these things occasionally. I read a story last year about an author whose book was price matched to free because Amazon found a free excerpt somewhere and assumed it was the entire story. The author lost out on all of his royalties (which were substantial because the book was fairly popular) until the situation got straightened out. When Amazon makes a mistake, they do not usually "make up for it."
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    Quote Originally Posted by DRMarvello View Post
    I don't think Amazon will kick you out of KDP just because Kobo is discounting your book. They expect things like that to happen. You set your list price at $2.99 in good faith, so you were in compliance with the KDP T&C.

    That said, Amazon may price match against Kobo so your price at Amazon.com drops to $2.85 as well.

    Yep. This is the kind of situation that price matching is for. It's a little odd, but I wouldn't be worried enough to make any changes.

    Amazon does make mistakes on these things occasionally. I read a story last year about an author whose book was price matched to free because Amazon found a free excerpt somewhere and assumed it was the entire story. The author lost out on all of his royalties (which were substantial because the book was fairly popular) until the situation got straightened out. When Amazon makes a mistake, they do not usually "make up for it."
    Possible we're thinking of different anecdotes but the story I recall the author was actually basing his "popularity" and "losses" on the number of free downloads. When he revealed the actual paid sales numbers before and after the free period they were quite low in both cases, but actually much better percentage wise after the free period. ie. He likely benefitted from the free promotion that he was complaining "lost" him money.
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  10. #10
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    Thank you for the additional responses DRMarvello and J.Tanner :-)

    I emailed Smashwords and they say that everyone is priced correctly on their end, so I think I know what's happened. Most stores show US prices, but I think Kobo converted the prices to Australian dollars for me (since I'm AUD based) and that's why 2.99 becomes 2.85. It doesn't state what currency, but I guess this means Kobo for me is AUD instead of USD? The fact that they do not list the currency type threw me off.

    Although it doesn't explain why some books went from 0.99USD to a higher amount.

    If I'm right and the prices are just a matter of currency conversion. I feel so embarrassed for not picking this up earlier (if what I believe is correct).

    I'm going to check to see if I'm right.

  11. #11
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    @Todsplace Sorry for not replying sooner. I thought I subscribed to this but maybe clicked something wrong.

    It sounds like you may have figured out the problem. From my limited experience, AUD seems to run a little higher than USD these days so they would most likely lower the price a bit to reflect that. Though if the $.99 are running higher, I'm not sure what's going on. Could it be some form of tax? Sorry, can't be any better help.

    Don't feel bad about the Kobo confusion, I got dinged by them for a while because they were offering a book for sale on the US side but free to their UK customers. I couldn't see that to save me, but Amazon could and kept the book free for their UK customers. Amazon thankfully told me what was going on. I emailed Kobo directly to ask them to fix their price and they were very responsive.

    I think J.Tanner has it figured out. If your list price is set at 2.99, Amazon should respect that and not ding you. They may lower your price, but you should receive the same percentage of royalty (if not same royalty? I'm never sure on this.). Just don't set a list price as lower elsewhere. That's the big no-no.

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin DRMarvello's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Windvein View Post
    @Todsplace Sorry for not I think J.Tanner has it figured out. If your list price is set at 2.99, Amazon should respect that and not ding you. They may lower your price, but you should receive the same percentage of royalty (if not same royalty? I'm never sure on this.). Just don't set a list price as lower elsewhere. That's the big no-no.
    The royalty you get with price matching depends upon which royalty program you selected. If you go with the 70% program, your royalty is 70% of the actual SALE price, regardless of your list price. If you go with the 35% program, you get 35% of your LIST price, regardless of the actual sales price. However, if Amazon price matches to free, you get nothing even if you go with the 35% royalty program.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DRMarvello View Post
    The royalty you get with price matching depends upon which royalty program you selected. If you go with the 70% program, your royalty is 70% of the actual SALE price, regardless of your list price. If you go with the 35% program, you get 35% of your LIST price, regardless of the actual sales price. However, if Amazon price matches to free, you get nothing even if you go with the 35% royalty program.
    Thanks for the info. That makes sense and why the whole 2.99/.99 thing would've been so egregious. If people were making $1.04 for their books that were marked down from 2.99 to .99, I can see why Amazon would want to shut that down quick.

  14. #14
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    Thanks everyone :-)

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