E-Book Prices Increase, Sales Slump After Amazon & Publishers Finalize Contracts

Just three months after Amazon tied up its bevy of contracts with top publishing houses, it looks like those deals might not be working out well for several companies, as they’ve reported declining e-book revenues in recent months.

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.”

E-Book Sales Fall After New Amazon Contracts [The Wall Street Journal]