Book Prices and Book Value

Where should the different book formats be priced? What are consumers willing to pay for an e-book? What are they paying now? Do they think they are getting good value for what they paid? Let’s look at some data to see where things stand.

The table below shows the percentage of sales/purchases by price range and format for the second quarter (April-June) of 2012. The ‘SalesData Print’ column shows the percentage of sales reported at each print point from our participating retailers. The ‘Consumer Print’ column shows the prices paid, and reported, by respondents to our Canadian Book Buyer study for all books purchased in print form. The ‘Consumer E-Book’ column does the same, but is for digital books that were ‘purchased’ by our respondents.


As expected book buyers are acquiring e-books at much lower prices then print books. Over 75% of all e-books being acquired by book buyers are being acquired for less than $10, and a huge portion of these are free.  The sweet spot for e-book pricing appears to be around $10 - which is what the e-book retailers have been saying for some time. E-books at the higher prices either don’t exist, or are not selling.

The ‘Consumer Print’ and ‘SalesData Print’ percentages line up fairly well except at the low end, where the consumer data shows a much higher percentage of sales/purchases. This likely has to do with respondents reporting used and remaindered books sales, which are usually not reported from our SalesData retailers. It will be interesting to monitor the print book pricing over time to determine what impact the e-book prices have on print book pricing.

In addition to the data gathered above we also ask our respondents how they would rate the value for money for the books they purchased:

Q: And, at the price you paid, how would you rate the value for your money?

Generally consumers seem to think that books are good value for money, with almost 90% of purchases being indicated as either good or excellent value. However, it looks like some work needs to be done to increase the value associated with e-books.

Interested in more of this data? Stay tuned for the release of  our consumer research and sign up for our newsletter.

Some things to note about the pricing table above:

- SalesData is very unlikely to get any sales reported for books that sell for $0. For that matter it is unlikely that any bookstore is giving books away for free.

- The price used above is the price paid by the consumer (Actual Sales Price) not the list, or recommended retail, price.

- The high percentage of print books reported by our respondents in our Consumer Book Buying study as being purchased for $0 are likely a combination of respondents not filling out the data and/or acquiring books via some promotion.

-  SalesData n= 11407803; Consumer Print n= 2150; Consumer E-Book n= 458