Is there a difference in the cost of books between Kindle and Nook? Do all books cost around $9.99? In my search for the perfect e-reader, I decided to answer this question once and for all. I started by checking a bunch of identical titles on Barnes & Noble.com, Amazon.com, and Apple.com. I then verified my findings with owners of the various products and some sales people. What I found was surprising.
First of all, I found that most sales people had no idea what the answer to this question was. Almost all of them thought there was no difference in price. What got me thinking about this was a comment that a passing customer made to me in Best Buy while I was doing research for the review. While looking over e-readers she said that I should buy the Kindle because the Nook book prices were higher. I really found the comment puzzling because I had thought everybody's prices would be the same. Especially since no price advantages are ever mentioned in any advertising. I would think if one was lower than the others this would be mentioned as a selling point.
What I found is there can be big price differences between the three services. The greatest differences seemed to be with specialty items like technical books. For example, the most significant price difference I found was on a book called "Professional WordPress – Design and Development." It was nearly $9.00 more on Barnes & Noble than on Amazon. It was not available in the Apple Store. Most books varied by a dollar or two with Amazon being almost always the lowest. For main stream books like popular novels and New York Times Best Sellers, Amazon's price was generally around a dollar less than the other two services.
I was unable to find an instance when Amazon was more than the other two. However, it would be nearly impossible for one person to check out all the offerings available on all the services. I did however manage to find a couple of sales people that were aware of pricing differences. They said that it depends on the type of the book in question. Each service seems to specialize in certain types of books. I was told for example, that Amazon would generally have lower prices on technical books. Another very important consideration in my opinion is that all books are not available on all services. I found some books on Barnes & Noble that served a specialty programming niche but were not available on the other services. So tying yourself to one service could cause you to miss out on some good offerings.
The moral of the story is to check for yourself. If you haven't purchased an e-reader yet and your library focuses on a certain type of book, you might want to see who's got the best prices. If your library is more varied (like mine) you might want an e-reader that is not tied to just one service. I tested all the leading e-readers and settled on the iPad for just that reason; it can download books from all the services. This allows me to find the best price regardless of where it's from and have every possible title available.
In summary, all books do not cost $9.99. The prices vary all over the place, just like in the bookstore. Also, just like in bookstores, the prices can be very different between competing services.
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