On Fixing Yodelling Tithes

What should you charge for your books? There’s a lot of debate, and even some research, but I thought I’d do an updated version of the old Big Mac test. Have you heard of that one? To get a true indication of hat life costs in a new place, check the price of a Big Mac. My Big Mac today is Happy Potter and the Philosopher/Sorcerer’s Stone.

The majority of sales channels will let you set the price of your book differently for each of their stores/regions. I’m currently only signed up to 3 but Smashwords only has 1 price, so I’m going to compare info about Amazon and Kobo. I hunted down:

  1. The markets each sales channel operates in.
  2. The minimum price at Amazon to qualify for their 70% royalty rate.
  3. The minimum price at Kobo to qualify for their 70% royalty rate.
  4. The price of Harry Potter (the paperback edition – not the Kindle edition, there isn’t one, apparently) in each market.
  5. The minimum wage in each country represented. Sourced from Wikipedia. Sorry if it’s wrong. For example, the number for Australia looks too high.
  6. A simple Excel calculation working out the number of minutes a person would have to work at minimum wage to buy a book at the lowest minimum price available at Amazon or Kobo.
Marketplace Amazon Min. Price Kobo Min. Price Harry Potter
@ Amazon
Minimum Wage
(Hourly)
Mins. to Work for
1 Min. Priced Book
Amazon.com
kobobooks.com/ – USD
$0.99 $2.99 $6.29 $7.25 8.19
Amazon.co.uk
kobobooks.com/ – GBP
£0.99 £1.99 £3.49 £6.50 9.14
kobobooks.com/ – EUR € 1.99
Amazon.de € 0.99 € 6.05 € 8.50 6.99
Amazon.fr € 0.99 € 6.05 € 9.61 6.18
Amazon.es € 0.99 € 6.05 756.70 per month 13.50
Amazon.it € 0.99 € 6.05 none
Amazon.nl € 0.99 € 6.05 € 8.70 6.83
Amazon.co.jp
kobobooks.com/ – JPY
¥99 ¥299 ¥851 ¥677-888 8.77
kobobooks.com/ – HKD $15.99 $32.50 29.52
Amazon.com.br R$1.99 R$19.59 R$788.00 per month 26.06
Amazon.ca
kobobooks.com/ – CAD
$0.99 $2.99 $9.24 C$10.20 to C$12.50 5.82
Amazon.com.mx $11.99 $4,327.10 66.45-70.10 pesos per day 86.61
Amazon.com.au
kobobooks.com/ – AUD
$0.99 $2.99 $9.36 $17.29 3.44
kobobooks.com/ – NZD $2.99 $14.75 12.16
Amazon.in ₹49 ₹355.00 ₹118-1000 per day 199.32

Also remember the huge caveat. If your book’s not enrolled in Kindle Select (and it should not be), books in Japan, Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia aren’t eligible for the 70% royalty rate anyway.

What’s the point?

Most of the industrialised countries seem pretty close to each other, but there’s a few that stand out as different. It takes 199 minutes to buy the cheapest book available if you live in a poor part of Indonesia. People in the capital earn almost 10 times as much, but I picked the worst case scenario. Of course, people in the poor parts of Indonesia probably don’t speak English, but whatever.

Hong Kong’s a rick place, but I think Amazons setting its minimum price very high, for some reason.

The point is, Amazon, Kobo, etc all organise their pricing around the profit they want to make, but this doesn’t necessarily help your readers/customers.

From now on I’m going to be pricing my books according to what’s fair for my customers in each region, based on what they earn. This won’t make me rich, but I’ll hopefully get a lot more happy readers out of it, who can spread the word wider, write more reviews, etc.

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