Amazon’s e-book pricing hurts international customers

David Gaughran, an Irish indie author living in Sweden, offers this must-read post about Amazon adding a two dollar surcharge for international e-book customers. This two dollar surcharge applies to e-books purchased in all countries except the USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.

I knew that Amazon charges 15% VAT for e-books purchased in the EU, because I noticed that the prices for Pegasus Pulp books on the Amazon UK and Amazon Germany sites were higher than the prices I had set. How Amazon arrives at the 15% rate I don’t know, because it does not match the VAT rate either in Germany (7% on books as well as food, pet food, cut flowers* and hotel accommodation, 19% on everything else) or the UK (no VAT on print books, but 17,5% on e-books, because e-books are not considered books in the eyes of the British law). And if you live in the EU and believe that charging different VAT rates on print and e-books is unfair, here is a petition to the European Parliament you can sign.

However, while I knew that Amazon charges 15% VAT in the EU, I did not know about the two dollar surcharge Amazon demands from e-book customers outside the eleven countries listed above. Most people inside the “favoured eleven” don’t know this, because we only see the regular list price (plus VAT, where applicable).

Like David Gaughran, I believe that this two dollar surcharge for international customers is deeply unfair. Especially as the very same international customers are already hit disproportionately by shipping costs, a situation that will probably get even worse now Amazon has bought the Book Depository, the only online bookseller to offer free worldwide shipping. Never mind that unlike with physical shipping, there are no extra costs to delivering e-books overseas.

I also feel bad for people outside the favoured eleven countries that have bought Pegasus Pulp e-books. I know of at least one customer in Italy, there may be others.

As for the solution, at some point Pegasus Pulp e-books will be available at Smashwords, which does not charge customer two dollars for daring to live somewhere else than in certain favoured countries. I’ve held off from uploading my books to Smashwords so far, because Smashwords still only accepts Word files (formatted in a very specific way) rather than mobi or epub files, which means that after investing a lot of work into formatting my e-books to make them look as good as possible, I will have to reformat the stories once again to get a product that does not look nearly as good. Nonetheless, at the moment Smashwords is the only way to get into the smaller Diesel, Kobo, Sony, etc… stores as well as into the Barnes and Noble Nook store, because Barnes and Noble is still not open to international indie authors in another case of random regional limitation. I will see if I can get into the Apple iBookstore on my own – a distant relative and former translation client now works for Apple‘s marketing department, so I have an in.

In the long run, I will probably also offer my e-books for sale right here at the Pegasus Pulp site. However, this requires a bit of research regarding shopping cart functions, the terms of service of my ISP and how the VAT issue works when selling from my own site. I’d probably have to draft AGB, that is Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen or general business conditions in English, which are required for online stores.

Anyway, I would like to apologize to all international customers for the higher prices, but that is outside my control.

*Nobody really understands why cut flowers are considered so essential to the lives of the German people to merit a reduced VAT, but for some reason they are.

Send to Kindle
This entry was posted in Announcements, Links and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Amazon’s e-book pricing hurts international customers

  1. Pingback: More on the avalanche, science fictional childhood, dark YA and unfair e-book pricing | Cora Buhlert

  2. Pingback: Pegasus Pulp e-books now available at XinXii | Pegasus Pulp

  3. Pingback: Yet another e-book announcement | Cora Buhlert

  4. Pingback: Some Thoughts on Sales, Promotion and Strategy | Pegasus Pulp

  5. Pingback: Pegasus Pulp e-books now available at OmniLit/AllRomance ebooks | Pegasus Pulp

  6. Pingback: A new sales venue, emotional writing, plagiarism, women in epic fantasy and awesome feminist cartoon | Cora Buhlert

  7. Pingback: Why we still need print books and mass market paperbacks | Pegasus Pulp

  8. Pingback: Pegasus Pulp e-books now available at Amazon France | Pegasus Pulp

  9. Pingback: Pegasus Pulp e-books now available at Amazon France | Cora Buhlert

  10. Pingback: A sudden temperature drop and a linkdump | Cora Buhlert

  11. Pingback: Germany discovers Indie Publishing | Pegasus Pulp

  12. Estara says:

    Cora, did I get this link from you? If not, it’s also very relevant to this topic (I may have gotten it from Chachic at GoodReads, she’s from the Philippines, too)

    I found the information that buyers outside Amazon’s favoured countries make the publishers earn less royalties absolutely horrible.

    • Cora says:

      I’m a regular reader of Charles Tan’s blog and posted the link to his essay at my main blog a few days ago, so you probably got it from me. Though it’s worth reposting at this blog as well, since the readership doesn’t necessarily overlap.

      The whole “favoured countries” policy is insane, because buyers outside favoured countries have to pay more, while the publisher earns less. Though Amazon at least accepts the existence of people outside the US, unlike Barnes & Noble. Luckily, Smashwords, AllRomance/OmniLit and XinXii don’t discriminate according to origin of the buyer.

      • Estara says:

        I only discovered XinXii via you – but at least I’ve been able to shop at the other two from the start and try to do so, when I know there are multiple editions.

        And of course small collective like BVC or the press that sells the ebooks of Ginn Hale and Subterranean Press (whose name I can’t recall) also offer region-, drmfree ebooks for sale. As well as the bigger e-publishers on their own sites, most often.

        • Cora says:

          The press you’re thinking of is either Wizard’s Tower or Weightless Books. Both are quite active in the SFF field.

          And of course the Book View Café deserves a shout-out all in itself.

  13. Pingback: Why the e-book revolution is still mainly a western phenomenon | Pegasus Pulp

  14. Pingback: Pegasus Pulp E-Books now available at Amazon Italy and Amazon Spain | Pegasus Pulp

  15. Pingback: More school drama, disliking a writer for the wrong reason and Pegasus Pulp e-books conquer Italy and Spain | Cora Buhlert

  16. Pingback: November Sales and why you won’t find Pegasus Pulp e-books in KDP Select | Pegasus Pulp

  17. Pingback: New Collection Available: Heartache and some e-reader news | Pegasus Pulp

  18. Pingback: A few words on VAT and pricing | Cora Buhlert

  19. Pingback: A few words on VAT and pricing | Pegasus Pulp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *