When I was in the process of publishing Ravens Gathering in paperback, I wrote about Amazon’s pricing and discounting. If you’re not sure what discounting means, read the post. The bottom line for me, though, was that, to sell a paperback through Amazon, I have to take a loss. For strategic reasons, I still decided to make it available that way.

As it happens, since launch, there haven’t been many sold through that channel, so the damage has been minor, and I’m sure I’ve picked up e-book sales off the back of it being there. On balance, then, I can’t complain. (Well, not about that anyway!)

I noticed lately that Amazon have been dropping the price of the paperback. The cover price is £8.99, which seems more than fair for a book of such great literary merit…  Okay, I may be stretching things with the literary reference there. But I’m told it’s entertaining. And when you consider that a trip to the cinema recently cost me around £25 for two ordinary tickets (no 3D, no 4DX, no IMAX, and no popcorn!), £8.99 to immerse yourself in 496 pages of entertainment seems like a bargain. 

Anyway, Amazon dropping the price tells me one thing. They’re fed up of having a copy of the book sitting on their shelves. It’s also interesting to note that this started about 6 weeks ago and, at the same time, they brag that there’s “Only 1 left in stock”, suggesting they’re selling like hot cakes. (They’re not, though that could be down to me not pushing it enough in recent months.) They also follow up this claim with the note: “more on the way”. If they’re right, they must be being transported on the back of a particularly weary sloth, because that note has been there for at least a couple of months.

Can I draw any conclusions from this?  

Well, Amazon lie to us as consumers, but that shouldn’t be a surprise, should it? They’re trying to sell their stock, and why not? Most consumers realise they’re being lied to by major corporations, so will decide whether to purchase after taking that into account. And if you don’t realise you’re being lied to…  well, wake up!

The paperback of Ravens Gathering isn’t selling well on Amazon, which is why it’s currently priced at £5.32. That means they’re selling it at a 40% discount, so they’re making a small loss on it. To me, that seems fair. I’m making a loss on it, so why shouldn’t they?

Although they started reducing the price weeks ago, it seems to have stalled at £5.32 for over a week now, so I think it’s bottomed out. It’s an opportunity to get a copy for less than half the price of a cinema ticket, so someone might as well get the benefit of it. And, if it sells, Amazon might even kick-start the sloth and get some more stock in. But, if they don’t, I won’t worry about it. I don’t make much money on each individual book sale, but being paid something instead of having to pay someone to read it is still a better option in my eyes.