28.08.09 Graeme Neill in The Bookseller
Sony's general manager for content and services development, Richard Palk, said consumers were confused about why e-book pricing was initially set based on hardback prices before falling when the paperback was released. He added: "It's fair to expect that prices of digital books will come down. The difference in price between physical books and e-books will have to change to meet consumer expectations. But we are in an evolutionary stage."
Palk was speaking at a round table held on Wednesday at the British Library in central London, which included author Sadie Jones.
Unlike the US, the United Kingdom does not have a common benchmark e-book price. Amazon prices new releases and bestselling e-books at $9.99 in the United States and Sony recently cut the price of bestselling titles to $9.99.
Retailers and publishers appear to be split over who should drive a similar pricing change in the UK. Fionnuala Duggan, group digital director at Random House, said Amazon was loss-leading in its Kindle pricing. She said: "It's not an issue for us but it is for booksellers. How do they respond to a competitor loss-leading on e-books?" Duggan refused to be drawn on an answer and said it was a matter for booksellers. She added: "If retailers want prices to be lower then they need to give away more discount or talk to publishers."
Waterstone's commercial director Neil Jewsbury said retailers had to initially work with the r.r.p. of the hardback, which is set by publishers. He added: "With e-books priced at the same r.r.p. as hardbacks we don't have fair pricing and it's something that needs to be addressed."
In research conducted by Waterstone's, the retailer found that the average price paid for an e-book was £6.50. Jewsbury said that was a "good price to pay" for a digital title.