The Kindle pricing problem

When you publish on the Kindle, you set your own price. But some customers will end up paying much more.

All self-publishing platforms allow you to set your own price, and this is important because control over pricing is key to your whole marketing strategy.

Alas, when it comes to the Kindle, there’s a problem.

At WebVivant Press, we’re about to publish a book that we’ve priced at €2.99 in Europe and $4.50 in the US. And so, via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform, that’s the price we set. And, indeed, if you’re based in the US, that’s the price you see.

Amazon does warn you that, if you make the book available to customers outside the US, local taxes will apply. For European (but non-UK) customers, this means adding the standard rate of Value Added Tax (VAT). That’s 15%, so I expected to see the price as $5.18. Instead, it comes up as $7.48!

I contacted Amazon and got fobbed off with a boilerplate reply explaining that, “There are a number of reasons why prices for Kindle titles may vary from region to region, including taxes and other operating costs.”

That’s a wholly inadequate response (and we’re not letting it rest there). Amazon needs to come up with a more transparent pricing structure that allows publishers to set actual retail prices.

With this book, we opted for the 70% royalty scheme, but on a retail price of $7.48, we’ll actually see only 42%. It means the book is far more expensive than we’d like, and our only method of fixing that is to take a smaller royalty. By my (rough) reckoning, we’d have to drop the royalty per sale from $3.15 to $1.30 to get a decent retail price for the book in Europe.

Amazon is making it difficult for Kindle self-publishers to employ a professional and commercial approach to marketing their books. And I’d like to know into whose pockets that extra $2.30 is disappearing.

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