The Wall Street Journal reports that Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster have all reported declining online book sales after inking deals with Amazon that gave the publishers more say in the prices for their titles.
A look at the Kindle store found that each of the five big publishers – which also includes Penguin Random House and Macmillian – have an average cost of $10.81 per e-book, while online books from others had an average price of $4.95, research group Codex Group LLC found.
“Since book buyers expect the price of a Kindle e-book to be well under $9, once you get to over $10 consumers start to say, ‘Let me think about that,’” Codex CEO Peter Hildick-Smith tells the WSJ.
The group found that in some cases the cost of an e-book was actually on par with the cost of a new hardcover version. For example, a new novel — published by Macmillian — by Jonathan Franzen costs $15.10 for hardcover, just $0.11 more than the e-book price.
In another case, this time for Hachette, the company priced an e-book new release from James Patterson at $9.99 last year, his latest book, though, is listed at $14.99.
The company reported a 24% decline in e-book sales in the first half of 2015, the WSJ reports.
Hachette says the decline in e-book sales is a result of fewer hot titles and the implementation of its Amazon deal.
According to the Association of American Publishers, the first five months of 2015, publisher e-book revenue for adult, children’s and young adult titles fell 10.4% to $583 million compared with the same time in 2014.
“The new business model for e-books is having a significant impact on what [the big] publishers report,” one publishing executive tells the WSJ. “There’s no question that publishers’ net receipts have gone down.”
Still, other publishers tell the WSJ that e-book sales aren’t a result of the Amazon deals.
In fact, he says the industry is a “title driven business. If you have a good book, price isn’t an issue.”