Outrage over 20p Follett e-book

Outrage over 20p Follett e-book

Al Zuckerman, agent to bestselling novelist Ken Follett, has condemned the 20p pricing of his author’s new novel Winter of the World (Macmillan) in e-book format as “absurd and outrageous”. Meanwhile, angry independent booksellers have branded the pricing “a farce”.

The novel, the second in Follett’s epic Century of Giants trilogy, is being offered at 20p by Amazon and Sony, despite a digital list price of £11.64. The hardback, which was released on 13th September, has an r.r.p. of £20, and stands at number six in this week’s original fiction bestseller chart.

Zuckerman, Follett’s US-based agent at Writers House, told The Bookseller he considered the pricing “absurd and outrageous”, saying the offer was a loss-leader for the retailers involved.

Independent booksellers also expressed dismay. Eleanor Lowenthal, owner of Pages of Hackney in east London, said: “This pricing isn’t just devaluing books, it is un-valuing them. The only way you can understand it is that they are trying to put other booksellers out of business entirely. The majority of a book’s value is not in the distribution or storage, it is in the content and the author’s work. To price an e-book at 20p is alarming to say the least.”

She added: “My only hope is that we might see a backlash—customers asking why we can’t sell books at Amazon prices will know it is ridiculous for anyone to sell a book at 20p.”

Sarah Donaldson of Red Lion Books in Colchester said: “It’s a farce.”

Follett’s novel is the second of Macmillan’s major autumn frontlist hardbacks to receive the 20p treatment, following horror writer James Herbert’s Ash. The digital list price of Ash, released on 30th August, was £10.74, while in hardback its r.r.p. was £18.99.
BookScan sales figures for physical copies of Herbert’s Ash show its weekly sales total dropped 53% from its launch week total of 10,115 to its fourth-week sale of 4,745 copies. His previous three titles all saw weekly sales increases over the comparative period.
The price of Ash has now been raised to £4.99 for the Kindle version, and is retailing at £9.59 on the Sony store.

The promotion was first launched in July as Sony sought to promote its newly opened Reader Store. The online retailer said the line-up of titles offered would change frequently and would not be time-limited. Authors with books previously included in the offer include Pan Mac stalwarts Jeffrey Archer, Peter James and Alan Hollinghurst.

Spokespeople for Pan Macmillan and Amazon.co.uk would not respond to requests for comment.