Monday, July 8, 2013

Ebook Pricing Revisited

It's been more than two years since I last posted an ebook pricing comparison. A lot has changed since then and I'm glad to report that the ebook market in South Africa has improved considerably. We now have two local online retailers offering ebooks: and The biggest change has to be the entry of Kobo into the local market. Together with Pick 'n Pay they've introduced their line-up of eink readers to the country at prices that compete favorably with the Kindle (one of the few locally available eink devices) and they've also launched a localised version of their online store offering a huge selection of ebooks for purchase in South African Rand. The user-experience of the Kobo store is similar to that of the Amazon Kindle store with purchases being delivered automatically to your device over Wi-fi.

Geographic restrictions seems to be less of a problem. Most of the ebooks I'm interested in seem to be available and the overall quality of ebooks have also improved considerably (you even get those fancy covers included nowadays!) and some publishers (most notably Tor) have opted to provide their ebooks DRM-free.

In order to compare ebook prices from the various stores I've put together a selection of 15 science fiction and fantasy titles. These include new releases as well as some backlist titles. In all cases prices are noted in South African Rand. For the ebooks from Amazon the price was converted using the current exchange rate of R10.22. EB refers to

Title Kobo Amazon EB Kalahari
The Curve of the Earth 82.79 122.54 110.00 128.95
Wool 78.69 108.74 89.00 104.95
Caliban's War 117.19 122.54 171.00 238.95
The Explorer 103.29 120.29 175.00 180.95
The Sleep Room 55.69 106.19 75.00 91.95
The Twelve 73.59 108.95 244.00 136.95
A Memory of Light 208.79 212.47 244.00 286.95
Shift 134.79 153.40 166.00 197.95
The Daylight War 150.99 167.61 253.00 260.95
A Game of Thrones (1-4) 248.49 204.81 359.00 370.95
Earth Afire 73.59 108.95 98.00 114.95
Nova War 55.89 67.35 73.00 85.95
The Cold Commands 73.59 122.54 98.00 136.95
Gridlinked 55.89 90.24 73.00 85.95
Gemsigns 79.39 103.84 98.00 136.95
TOTALS 1592.65 1920.44 2326.00 2560.25

Aside from one title Kobo consistently had the cheapest prices on offer. For new releases the price difference between Kobo and Amazon seems to be relatively small, but on older titles prices at Amazon were considerably more expensive. Our local retailers can't seem to compete with the international sites. In total they were much more expensive than Kobo and Amazon, but on a few titles Exclus1ves were slightly cheaper than Amazon. Kalahari turned out to be the most expensive option out of all the stores.

Using the prices from Kobo as baseline Kalahari was 60.75% more expensive, Exclus1ves 46,07% and Amazon 20.58%.

The prices don't take any special offers into account. The Kindle store offers daily deals and tend to discount certain books from time to time. However, from my limited experience, it seems most of the daily deals tend to be restricted to the US. They also seem to add an extra $2 charge on some discounted titles to cover the 3G delivery (even if you don't own a 3G Kindle).

Kobo also has special offers and in addition they give out promo codes that reduce their prices even further. These discount codes range from 10% to 85% and, for the most part, seem to be usable on any ebook (unless specifically stated otherwise).

Exclus1ves has a loyalty programme where Fanatics members earn 5% of their purchases back. They also have a discount incentive called Stickers where you can earn discounts of 10% - 25% to use on products of your choice.

When deciding on an ebook reader it's important to compare the prices of the ebooks you are likely to read and see which stores offer the best prices. It definitely pays to shop around!


  1. Hi KJ,

    As the programme manager for Fanatics, Exclusive Books' loyalty programme, I would like to thank you for doing this price comparison.

    From an Exclusive Books point of view, we have implemented the Fanatics programme in order to add value to books purchased from Exclusive Books. This value extends to online purchases and covers books as well as ebooks.

    Our current rewards value is 5% back in discount on all your purchases made with your Fanatics number.


    Lood du Plessis

    1. Thanks Lood. I've updated the post with the information as well as information about Stickers, which also provides further discounts.

  2. Probably worth mentioning that with Calibre you can buy from anywhere, and then convert to whichever format you need (epub for Kobo, mobi for Kindle). You may need to strip the DRM, but that's easy enough.

  3. Thanks for the comparison!
    Very interesting :)


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