Tour’s Books Blog

August 19, 2013

The Game is ON! (Again) – Amazon Price Roulette and Bookseller News

Filed under: Editorial,General,opinion — toursbooks @ 2:27 pm
Tags: ,

Well, for awhile there after eliminating Amazon’s 4-for-3 program on mmpb’s Amazon did deep discounts – in the $4.39 to $5.39 per book range in a completely random fashion.  It was strictly $7.99 books, but some $8.99 and $9.99 ones got a few discounts beyond their now standard 10%.

I left a number of books on pre-order at Amazon and until the last 2 weeks not ONE had more than the 10% discount.  Suddenly, the site had these great buys, mostly on cozy mysteries and some paranormal.  Like the last time, it might $4.79 today, $5.39 tomorrow or anywhere up to the old $7.19.  Now, if you wanted to take a chance that the book you wanted would get a deep discount, you could ore-order it, but judging by the fact that only 2 of the 20+ books I rec’d from the pre-order pile  had it, I wouldn’t place any bets on the pre-order price guarantee kicking in to any substantial savings.

On top of that, Amazon’s UK division was offering discounts on DIFFERENT books, including the new Cassie Palmer installment due out soon.  That was NOT on sale on the US site.

I found the whole timing bizarre since it came on the heels of the announcement that Amazon sales had fallen 3% for the first time.  It was blamed, rightly or wrongly, on the Kindle Fire sales slump and the saturation of the tablet market and preference for the iPad.  There is supposedly some big secret project in the works at Amazon, but whether it’s new technology or some other change, who knows.

Meanwhile, Book Closeouts is changing its name and its website.  Starting September 7 it will be Book Outlet.  They will also open a brick and mortar store in Buffalo, NY.  Watch for sale and mark the new website.  They do have some good deals and fall is their big discount time.  They are promising a more user friendly website.  I hope so, because the one they have now sucks.

As for Books-A-Million and how they’re doing with my orders ………….. well, there’s good and bad coming out there.

Pros:

  • Regular discounts of up to an additional 20% are emailed to their Millionaire’s Club members.  (Requires minimum purchase)
  • Sent UPS or USPS same as Amazon
  • Well packed and no damage to books
  • With their extra discounts, 10-18% cheaper than Amazon on mmpb’s, a substantial difference

Cons:

  • Once an order is placed, you CANNOT cancel or change it, so if you accidentally order a book more than once, you’re screwed
  • When you pre-order a book and it released under a different ISBN, they just cancel it – affecting your discount based of dollars spent
  • The books are not SHIPPED till THE RELEASE DATE, which means you get them 2-3 days after your Amazon order would arrive
  • There is no ‘Pre-order price guarantee’, so if their price drops, too bad.
  • Website does NOT show you if you have already ordered a specific book
  • Does not add new titles as early as Amazon

So, where does this leave the book buyer?  With a surefire discount on BAM, but with more work, orders cast in stone, extra record keeping, and later delivery, OR price point roulette on Amazon, who DOES allow cancellations till an order is on the floor for pick and pack?  I have found BAM’s order system very inflexible, but their pricing is good when you use the additional discounts.  I find Amazon’s ‘price Point Roulette’ erratic, unreliable, unpredictable, and not something I’m entirely comfortable with.  In short, I’m not real impressed by either company, though Amazon has the customer service and website ease of use edge big time.

In all of this, Book Closeouts, soon to be Book Outlets, has improved their shipping operation – thank heavens.  They get an order picked and packed quickly these days, rather than a week to 10 days after the order is placed.  They still use USPS Media Mail, but otherwise, it’s fine.  And you still get GREAT buys at low prices and no ‘per book’ shipping cost!  Those $3.99/bk fees can really eat up the savings on a multi-book order.  I just got 4 books from them (thru their website, though they also sell on Amazon) and the shipping was still only $3.99.

So there you have it, my latest adventures in book buying.  It all kind of sucks, just in different ways, and that whole sales tax thing ……………. well that does impact my buying, make no mistake.  It looks like I’ll continue to split my business among sellers.  I’m not completely happy with any any of them!

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