Amazon readying October Kindle offer

Amazon.co.uk has asked publishers for discounts of 90% on titles in order to participate in an October Kindle promotion.

The campaign, due to run from 17th to 31st October inclusively, will also be featured on Amazon.de, the retailer's German website. Amazon has told publishers this will be the "main focus for our merchandising efforts during this period", and would be supported with emails, on Facebook, and via Twitter. It has asked for new frontlist as well as key backlist titles.

The 90% discount (off the ex VAT digital list price) has caused concern among some publishers, though it is understood the level is similar to its previous Kindle promotions, including the "Spring Spectacular" and "12 Days of Kindle", which Amazon has told publishers led to an uplift in sales of some titles of more than 300%.

One publisher, who did not wish to be named, told The Bookseller the discount meant they could not participate in the promotion. The publisher said: "I just don't see how publishers can represent authors and make any return on their investments working on these margins."

However, Evan Schnittman, managing director of group sales and marketing at Bloomsbury, said using price was the best way of replicating the traditional store campaigns online. "This is how promotions work in the e-world. It is all about getting to a price level, perhaps between £1.99 and £3.99 for a short term, where the e-book becomes too hard to refuse."

Schnittman said such short-term promotions only made sense if there was a corresponding uplift in sales. He said Bloomsbury had seen spectacular success using price in the US on e-books. He said: "What's important here is the revenue generated [from the promotion], not how we got there."