(image courtesy Inkmesh)
eBook pricing has been in a huge state of flux since the “agency model” went into effect this past spring. With many top titles pricing being set by the publisher it becomes a case of what store you prefer, and not necessarily what store offers the best price. However, there are still many publishers (Random House being the biggest) who don’t follow agency pricing, and the fine folks at Inkmesh did some number crunching to determine which store offers the best bang for your buck.
Amazon was the winner, but by a lower margin than the pre-agency world. Not too shocking, since Amazon competes on pricing whenever they possibly can. Next up was B&N, followed by Kobo, then Sony, then Borders. Essentially, the data backs up what seems most plausible; B&N and Amazon have deeper pockets and are more aggressive about promoting their stores, while Kobo leverages price and coupons to stand out. Sony is competing on “quality”, so apparently, that gives them the right to overcharge. Borders is a bit of a surprise, as their poor showing indicates either they are not sharing the same pricing as Kobo OR that they aren’t carrying the same depth of backlist as Kobo. The Borders ebook store is “powered by Kobo”, so the discrepancy is odd.
Inkmesh thinks this means the ebook market is still wide open and that Amazon hasn’t had a definitive victory yet. I don’t disagree, but I think this says far more about the lower end of the ebook wars than the front-runners. Sony really needs to up their game or just walk away from the market. If Sony wants to compete on hardware, ok. I don’t think it’s a valid strategy, but that’s their forte. Charging more for ebooks than their competitors (including Kobo, whose books are compatible with Sony Readers) is a bad sign for Sony’s marketshare in the future. As I said above, Borders store is powered by Kobo, so it’s very odd that there’s such a marked discrepancy. Borders is a newbie on the ebook block, and they’re not exactly lighting the world on fire. Lackluster ebook readers and poor pricing aren’t going to win Borders any new customers.
What’s your take on Inkmesh’s numbers? Do you shop based on prices, convenience, hardware compatibility or some combination of the above?