Amazon beaten on price for books outside top 20 bestsellersAlison Flood, guardian.co.ukGuardian
Book lovers keen to enjoy an Amazon-free Christmas but unable to tear themselves away from the online retailer's cut-throat pricing can breathe a sigh of relief: a new study has found that Amazon is only the cheapest option on its top 20 bestsellers, with books further down the chart costing 14% more than competitors.
The survey, by global marketing consultancy Simon-Kucher and Partners, analysed the prices of the top 100 print books in the UK between 30 October and 9 November, at Amazon and seven other online booksellers: WH Smith, Blackwell's, Alibris, Kennys, BookFellas, the Amazon-owned AbeBooks and the Book Depository. While Amazon, which some consumers are considering boycotting over its (legal) tax avoidance, was the cheapest option for its top 20 bestsellers 6% cheaper than competitors for books ranked 21-50, Amazon charged a premium of 13% compared with the lowest-priced alternative, and for books in its top 51-100, that increased to 15%.
"Ask someone where to find the lowest price on a book and they'll tell you to go to Amazon," said managing partner Mark Billige. "But you would be surprised how often this advice in incorrect."
Expecting to find that Amazon operated like a high-street retailer, selling new books at a premium and slower-moving books at a discount, to save warehouse space instead "we found that Amazon was much more like a Tesco: supermarkets offer the staples, like eggs, milk and nappies, at a very competitive price, and make more of their money on the slower-moving products," said pricing expert Kyle Poyar, a consultant at Simon-Kucher.
"Many booksellers think of Amazon as this mythical competitor, just incredibly low on price an insurmountable adversary, impossible for them to overcome," Poyar continued. "But our research has revealed that much of that is just outdated myth. The reality is that Amazon needs to make money like everyone else, but they understand consumer buying behaviour, and use those insights to be able to give off a low-price image, while still not necessarily being the lowest price."
A spokesperson for Amazon said: "That is not the case and we aim to offer competitive prices on every book that we list."