If you self-publish on various retailers, beware of Amazon’s Price Match
Update: Amazon has discontinued Price Matching.
See this article from Techcrunch for more details.
Amazon has its eyes everywhere. So if you decide to offer your ebooks at a discount, or free, on other retailers, beware. Amazon will react by matching the price. But, not always.
Amazon’s Price Match feature is a strange beast. When you want it to work, it won’t, but when you don’t; it will.
It is designed to work with potential buyers finding a better price on other retailers and then reporting it to Amazon. Originally, this price matching was something retailers did for televisions, lawn mowers and refrigerators, but it now works for ebooks. Why? I have no idea, as saving $0.99 seems to be so trivial in comparison to saving $50.00 on a $700.00 lawnmower.
However, it is a fact of life for self-publishers of ebooks, so beware that although most ebook retailers will not discount your ebooks, Amazon definitely will if it gets the opportunity.
Price matching is supposed to work when a potential buyer or buyers, find a product (here an ebook) at a lower price on another retailer and then report this to Amazon.
The link for Price Match hides away beneath every Amazon product and relies on users to click and report a lower price for an item. Or, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
My experience, though, has been that Amazon’s Price Match can also be enacted automatically by Amazon. As Amazon scans the Internet and other ebook retailers for ebooks that are in contravention of its KDP Select exclusivity policy, it’s not a far stretch to believe that the same scanning finds ebooks listed on Amazon, which are at a lower price, or free, elsewhere.
So how can you use, or avoid Amazon Price Match?
If you want to create a free ebook for some time, or perhaps a perma-free, make your ebook free on other retailers and then go to your Amazon book page and click the “tell us about a lower price?” and report your ebook. Get some friends and family to do the same, and your ebook will be free … sooner or later. I have done this quite a few times, and it usually happens within a few days, but on occasions, I have waited for two weeks or more. This price matching is not a precise science.
If you want to have your ebook free on other retailers for a few days only, but you don’t want Amazon to price match it, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope. Four out of five times this has worked for me, and my ebook is back to full price without Amazon price matching.
But then, occasionally Amazon catches a free ebook. This creates a bit of a problem, though, because while Amazon can reduce a price very quickly with price match, it is much, much, much slower at removing it than putting it in place. The other problem is that if you look at your ebooks in your KDP dashboard, you will not see a change in your selling price.
It also depends where you live, as on most occasions price matching is only applied to the UK Kindle store.
The only sure means of knowing if your ebook has been price matched is by seeing “Free Units Price Match” in your KDP sales reports.
Yes I know, it’s all a bit cloak and daggers.
So what do you do if your ebook remains stubbornly price matched by Amazon?
If you discover that your ebook is price matched on Amazon, and is either still free or at a lower price than on your other ebook retailers, the only sure way to get your ebook back to its correct retail price is to contact KDP Help and ask for your ebook to be returned to its correct selling price. Luckily, Amazon usually responds quite quickly to these requests.
In fact, I had this very same problem today, and I got a response from KDP Help in less than two hours, and a commitment to return my ebook to its normal price. Well, the message was quick, but returning my ebook to its correct price will take 48 hours.
However, wouldn’t life be so much easier for everyone if price matching was only applied to televisions, lawn mowers and refrigerators? I mean, what’s the point in getting so paranoid about the price of $2.99 and $0.99 ebooks?