Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Shopping Around: Price comparing Nook vs. Kindle storefronts

Some discussion has been had on more than one occasion about the issue of pricing in the Nook and Kindle stores. The general consensus is that the Barnes & Noble storefront for Nook is more expensive on average, and the Kindle usually has slightly better prices across the board. I thought I'd put this to the test with a comparison of books in both storefronts.

To make this work I'm going to compare three sets of titles: popular current titles, new titles, and obscure titles. I tend to buy heavily from option #3 (obscure) and as a result may see more savings on average with Kindle than Nook....or so my buying experience suggests. So lets get on with this!

1st Comparison: Popular Current Titles

For this entry I'll look at the "top listings" for each store and pick a sampling based on subject mater: sci fi/fantasy for our purposes will be the control measure, using the top seller listings on each site as of 1/3/14. To qualify each book below must be on one of the two top seller lists:

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card: Both Kindle and Nook list it for $3.99.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin: $4.99 on Nook, $3.99 on Kindle.

A Song of Ice & Fire Five Book Set: $19.99 on Kindle, but $28.47 on the Nook. Interestingly, the Nook has the four-book Nook set for $34.99.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss $6.74 on Kindle and $6.74 on Nook.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. Kindle has this listed for $7.69 but the one-volume Lord of the Rings set for $10 (bwuh?) while Nook has the same exact prices, including a $10 one-volume set.

Result One: the prices match, with a couple exceptions. Kindle comes out ahead a bit due to Martin's books.

2nd Comparison: New Titles

For this entry I look at "newly listed" to see how the prices on these shiny new tomes appear. The source is this and this list as of 1/3/14. To be on this list it must appear on at least one of the two new lists, and be available now or preorder in both stores. Bias of Note: I am excluding any book that looks like a "urban fantasy vampire chick" novel from the test set:

The High Druid's Blade: The Defenders of Shannara by Terry Brooks. $13.99 on the Nook and $11.84 on the Kindle.

Words of Radiance by Brian Sanderson. $12.74 Kindle edition and $14.99 Nook edition.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (fyi this book sounds very cool). $13.99 Nook and $10.99 Kindle edition.

Halo: Mortal Dictata by Karen Traviss. $9.99 Nook edition vs. $8.89 Kindle edition.

The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor Part I by Robert Kirkman. $11.99 Nook edition vs. $9.83 Kindle edition.

Result Two: It's like this across the terms of new, Kindle really wants your dollars, and B&N hasn't quite figured this out apparently.

3rd Comparison: Obscure Titles

I am a master of the obscure, as I expect many tabletop gamers are. What follows are a sample of my library, taken from both the Nook and the Kindle, for comparison:

Heavy Metal Pulp: Pleasure Model by Robert Vardeman. $7.59 on Kindle and $7.99 on Nook.

Revelation Space by Alistair Reynolds. $7.59 on Kindle and $8.99 on Nook.

Resident Evil: City of the Dead by S.D. Perry. $6.59 Kindle vs. $7.49 Nook.

Weird Space I: The Devil's Nebula by Eric Brown. $4.61 on Kindle and $5.49 on Nook.

Punktown by Jeffery Thomas. $5.99 on Nook vs. $3.99 on Kindle.

I tried comparing recent favorites of mine such as Zombie Pulp and The Hive both by Tim Curran but they aren't even on the Nook store it turns out.

Result Three: the Nook isn't as interested in discounting these mostly obscure titles. The selection I picked was random, but I could unfortunately just keep listing and listing and listing...and it would still be the same; virtually all these obscure titles are a bit cheaper on the Kindle.

The question I might pose to those who self-publish and release books through both storefronts is: why is this? What policy is in place that ends up with a higher mark-up on the ebook at B&N than at Kindle? Do authors and publishers have much control of their pricing, and does Nook have a more difficult "discounting structure" than the Kindle, assuming that's a tool available to publishers? Is it just a market share issue? According to a recent article Amazon holds a 67% market share....could this be the reason?

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