I’ve been following the book price wars that erupted last Thursday, and am curious to see what will happen next. On Thursday, Wal-Mart announced that it will be selling 10 hardcover pre-releases for $10 each on its website. Books are offered with free shipping, and a list can be found here. Some of the titles include Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue and Stephen King’s Under the Dome. Wal-Mart also introduced its America’s Reading List, slashing prices by 50% or more on top 200 books. When I checked today, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help was available for $12.00 and Jeannette Walls’ Half Broke Horses was a mere $13.00 (both books are in hardcover).
Late on Thursday, Amazon responded to Wal-Mart’s challenge by matching the $10 price tag on the same list of books. Wal-Mart then lowered the price to $9, which Amazon matched on Friday. Wal-Mart lowered its price again to $8.99.
I’ve been a loyal customer of Amazon for some time now, but I have to admit, Wal-Mart prices are appealing. However, these book prices wars bring up many issues that have been mentioned by various media outlets. How long will the special pricing last and since most titles offered at a special price are by big blockbuster authors, will these prices affect the success of first time writers? Will Wal-Mart and Amazon take a loss on these books in the hopes of spurring other sales, or will publishers be cajoled into accepting lower prices? How will these prices affect retailers like Borders and Barnes & Noble?
It will be interesting to see how these price wars play out, and I look forward to hearing your opinions.