The problem with not controlling your own book listings (ebook pricing silliness)

Update: The pricing problem seems to be related to which country you’re looking at and Kobo from. Americans see the proper price ($2.99), and then outside the USA it ranges from $7.69 up to $12. Eek!

In the latest silliness news, my ebooks (formerly priced around $2.99) may or may not have jumped up to $9.99. Now, this may not entirely be iUniverse’s fault — shocking, I know! Here’s what happened.

So on Monday I hopped on to to see if I got any new reviews for Imminent Danger. Pretty legit, right? But when I got there, I discovered  the kindle edition of the book is listed at $9.76. Um … what? So I checked,, and Kobo … all around the $9 range (well, Kobo is $7-ish). Very sketchy.

I contacted iUniverse, and they explained that while online retailers can bump your book up $2 or down $1 based on assorted promotions, it definitely shouldn’t be $9. First of all, that was news to me — I had assumed that when I listed a book as $2.99, it would stay $2.99. But apparently that’s not the case.

Anyway, further strangeness ensued when iUniverse informed me that they’d also gone to check out my book on Amazon … and found that it was listed as $4.99 — and then $2.99 on Kobo. They even sent screenshots to prove it. I don’t doubt them at all, so this begs the question … what the heck is going on? Has my computer been possessed?

If you have a spare second, please do me a favour and check out the following two links. I’m curious to know what price you see pop up on your screen for the ebooks. Is it just my computer malfunctioning, or is there some devious internet plot going on against me? So check these out and let me know what you find!

Imminent Danger on

Imminent Danger on Kobo

And I suppose this begs the question: would I be  having this problem if I’d gone the total self-publishing route and uploaded my book to these sites myself? It’s my understanding that you completely control the price, and they can’t touch it at all. Is that true? In which case, that’s a further strike against iUniverse — not because they did anything wrong in particular this time, but just because they apparently have no control over the pricing of their books.

Educate me, blogosphere! Also, I wish everyone a phenomenal Easter!!!

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Categories: My Works, Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 102 Comments

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102 thoughts on “The problem with not controlling your own book listings (ebook pricing silliness)

  1. Formats
    Amazon price New from Used from
    Kindle Edition $2.99 — —
    Hardcover $24.28 $21.53 $45.82
    Paperback $17.12 $14.57 $38.64

    $7.69 Indigo

    I didn’t think Amazon would even allow us to have the book a different price somewhere else. That stinks that other sites are playing with the price on your books. I hope you get this straightened. out. Good luck, Michelle. Happy Holiday.

    • Thanks so much for checking into this! So Amazon is normal … but the Kobo price is inflated. Bizarre. Happy holiday 🙂

    • Yes, it is true that we control the price in self-publishing, mostly, but if we have the book somewhere else with a cheaper price, the big A gets gets upset.Then people report the book at a lower price somewhere else and then they’re forced to match it. I don’t think they like doing this. (You know who I mean by they, right?) I know B&N has put paperbacks at a lower price and A matches it. It eventually goes to the regular price. I think I’ve heard authors say that A dropped their eBook price for a short time. Don’t quote me on that though because I’m not 100% sure.

      • Ah, okay, so you have MOST of the control, but it still fluctuates slightly because of price matching shenanigans? Fair enough 🙂

        • My price has never been messed with, but I think if they see a book climbing the ranks, they will play with it. But, maybe that isn’t the self pubbed authors. I can go in and change anytime I want, anything actually, the blurb, etc.

        • Amazon will price match to the lowest price of any major online competitor. Many self-pubbed authors use this intentionally–it’s how you make a title “perma free” in order to create a loss leader (to tempt readers into investing in a series).

          Who Amazon considers a major competitor is up for debate. Once upon a time it was B&N, for sure. I’ve heard through the grapevine that now it’s only Kobo and iTunes; Kobo b/c Amazon sees them as global competitors (they have major market share in several markets), iTunes for obvious reasons. B&N…sometimes they match, sometimes they don’t. As an author, you can’t control the price match with any precision, since you’re relying on automated bots and the internal decisions of a multi-billion dollar company…easier to go with KDP Select if you need exact days of “free” (e.g., for a sale or a promotion).

          Those have been my experiences…hope that clears some things up!

          p.s. Two other things: First, I’ve never heard of a book being made more expensive, only price-matched down. Second, if you have a print copy, specifically through Createspace which Amazon owns, they’ll drop the price if it’s selling well, but you receive the same royalty, i.e., they take the loss in order to spark sales.

          • Excellent info! Many thanks 🙂 I heard back from my iUniverse rep, and what they basically said was that stores like Amazon/Kobo/etc. set their own prices, so there’s nothing they can do to stop the price being marked up $5. Which still seems sketchy to me, but … sigh. Lol. Will definitely be doing the publishing myself next time!

  2. Yep, $9.76 on Amazon, and $7.69 on Kobo, same as what I paid (but it says list price $9.99). Worth every penny, though. 🙂

  3. Alex Wells

    Amazon Kindle Edition: $12.24, saving $9.71…
    Kobo Ebook: $7.69…

    I wonder why that is… Is it because I’m from the UK?

    • It’s bizarre, isn’t it? I think it may very well have something to do with what country you’re in, because I’m in Canada and my prices are screwed up too … although I didn’t think the internet worked that way, lol. Thanks for checking that out for me!

    • Alex
      I concur with your prices – and I’m checking from the UK.

  4. I have Kobo at 7.69 but Amazon at 2.99. sorry for all the confusion they’re giving you, Michelle!!!

  5. I checked it out and got the same info as Mary in the comment above.

    Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with your pricing. It sounds so frustrating, not having any control whatsoever over something you’ve created. I really hope you get it sorted out.

    Happy Easter. This is a good excuse to eat as much chocolate as physically possible, at least!

    • Chocolate does tend to make things better, doesn’t it? 🙂 It’s a bit frustrating, but … well, what can I really do? And iUniverse is supposedly looking into the issue, so hopefully it will get resolved soon. If not, I’ll probably phone up Amazon/Kobo myself and see what’s what. Thanks for looking into this for me 🙂

  6. Actually, no. Sorry. Scratch my last comment (except the bit about chocolate and good wishes.)

    The Amazon screen gives me a price of $12.24 for the Kindle edition of your book. Apparently, it’s a saving of $9.71. Sorry. I looked in the wrong place, entirely missing the big red writing. *embarrassed*

  7. Okay, I am seeing $2.99 on Amazon and $2.99 on Kobo ( and $7.69 on that Indigo site you referenced.

    US user here. I’ve never seen this Indigo site before–I always look up Kobo books on the Kobo site directly.

    Personally, I have never had a problem with Amazon, I set the prices and they use what I set. During the time I was on B&N, though, something odd happened with the price of the trade paperback, though, it shot up to almost 20$ for no reason that I could see. (Since I never sold anything on B&N, it really doesn’t matter, but it was odd.)

  8. inkspeare

    Both links showed 2.99 to me. There are other books with your same title at other prices, so I made sure I was looking at your cover. I now am very puzzled since I’ve read all the ranges of prices on your comments ???

    • It’s weird, right? I think it might have something to do with where people are located. Are you in the USA?

      • inkspeare

        Yes I am in the USA, and yes you are right the convertion to European currency will show higher numbers.

        • inkspeare

          Also I forgot to mention that when you have the book on Amazon, other private sellers, online bookstores … can list your book at the price they want to sell it. For example, on private seller on Amazon my novel is selling new from 11.43 and all the way up (ranging in different prices) to 24.99. Original Amazon price is 14.95. You will also find the used factor (sellers who are selling the used book) competing with your novel.

  9. $2.99 on Amazon, $7.69 on Kobo.

  10. I got 2.99 on both fronts. Based on what I am reading here I smell a algorithmic rat that might be aware of what one surfs and by implication what one is willing to pay thing might be going on.. A friend of mine told me he bought Cherry Coke using his credit card for a party. Never bought it before or since, but when he went on the net later that day, you guessed it “Cherry Coke” ads on the webpages.

    • Intriguing! I’ve been thinking the price differs based on what country you’re viewing the sites from … but you’re saying it could be based on each person’s surfing history. Hmm …

      • I don’t know if surfing is the reason. It might be geographic, but the ability to use data mining to extract more money is what these guys do.

  11. Amazon price $2.99 and Kobo $9.99 – I’m in Australia and I notice the Kobo price is different here than your other commenters.

    What a pricing pain this must be for you, Michelle. I hope they sort it out soon 😉

  12. Amazon shows me
    Kindle $2.99
    Paperback $17.12
    Hardcover $24.28
    Kobo shows me $2.99

    That’s strange that they’re changing the prices on you.

    LOVE MUSE MADNESS, have since they released it months ago.


  13. Checking the 2 links, I get: Amazon, $9.76 (but they also say “Pricing information not available”). On Kobo, the price is $7.69, marked down from $9.99.
    To compare, I also checked my own books on Kobo, which I’ve priced at 2.99. They all have $3.08 as the price. I published mine through Smashwords, which distributes to all but Amazon.

    • So you see the crazy-high prices too. Interesting … I assumed it was iUniverse’s fault, but they swear up and down that they haven’t changed a thing. So … dunno, lol. Thanks for checking it out and letting me know!

  14. Well, I got 2.99 for both, but the bizarre broad range of prices is annoying, no doubt about it. 😦 Sorry about this latest problem, Michelle! One of these days its all bound to get straightened out. (I hope.)

  15. I see 9.76 on Amazon and 7.69 for Kobo. Also, that is an awesome song. Muse is the best.

  16. Amazon print list price $21.95
    Amazon digital list price $2.99
    Kobo digital list price $2.99

    You may be affected by Amazon’s KDP rules regarding competitor prices and foreign country pricing. This would make the prices change.

    • So you still see the normal prices. Hmm … and interesting thought with the Amazon KDP rules, except that the prices have been fine for 3 months, and just randomly changed starting this past Monday. Hmm …

      Oh, and thanks for checking 🙂

  17. I saw $2.99 for your book. I checked mine out, too, but it’s at its normal $2.99 ebook/$10.99 paperback.

    • Hmm. Very odd. The trend I’m seeing so far is that people in the USA see it as the price should be, and then it just goes bonkers the second you cross the border. I wonder why that is …

      Thanks for checking 🙂

  18. Devon Lynn

    Amazon: Kindle, 2.99; Hardcover, 24.28; Paperback 17.12. kobo: 7.69

  19. I see 2.99 on Amazon.

  20. Michelle, I’m seeing $2.99 on both sites today. Good luck with this and thanks for the like on my latest post!

    • Oh, good! To help confirm my working theory, do you happen to live in the USA, by any chance? I think the pricing is being affected by country of origin, for some bizarre reason. And thanks for checking 🙂

  21. In the US here, and both are showing 2.99. I suspect shenanigans with IUniverse, but maybe that’s just because I think they’re full of it. On a good day. 😉

  22. Ok Michelle here’s my results at 5:16PM Toronto time.
    @Amazon $2.99 an 86% discount.
    @Kobo $2.99 regular price.
    I trust this info helps. Happy Easter.
    PS These prices are shamefully low for such an AWESOME writer.

  23. Amazon US Kindle 2.99, Hardcover 24.28 and paperback 17.12. Kobo 7.69, save 23%. I would bet iUniverse is full of you know what. I’ve never, ever had Amazon change a price on my ebooks or paperbacks, unless the ebook was cheaper somewhere else, then they price match it. Maybe I’m just lucky but then again I don’t use iUniverse.

    • So you have the Kobo with a messed up price, but not Amazon. It seems like everyone is coming back with different results. Bizarre. My suspicion is that iUniverse sent out some sort of incorrect info recently that messed with the prices. But they claim otherwise, so … well, hopefully it’ll get sorted soon 😀

  24. On Amazon, looking at it by clicking directly on your link from Canada, I get $9.76. Then I used an anonymous US-based proxy to look at the exact same page, and the price was listed as $2.99. So that tells us two things: first, that location seems to be the deciding factor when determining the price (sneaky, Amazon!). Second, that I’m never buying books off Amazon without first using a US-based proxy. 🙂

    • So it IS based on geography! Excellent detective work! It is so weird that they would do that. I guess I’ll have to call them on Monday and see what the heck is going on. Thanks for all the help!!!

  25. It’s says 2.99 on both for me. Looks like people need to slip over the border and buy it.

    • Apparently! It’s so weird that Amazon would charge a higher price if you’re out of the country. They should either just say “No, you can’t buy it”, or make it the same price. It’s a digital file, for goodness sake, not an actual, physical book. Sheesh!

  26. I see 2.99 on both. And I’m liking this post merely for including the Muse vid 😀

  27. Both pages show $2.99.

    I entered your giveaway! And that sing by Muse is pretty much the awesomest ever. It was part of my soundtrack on repeat as I wrote my own book. By the way, head on over to my Goodreads page to enter a giveaway for my book. Details are on my blog page – Good luck to both of us!

  28. I have nominated you for the sunshine award. Visit for details – John

  29. Oh, and in reference to your media clip–Yeah, Baby! I simply adore Matthew Bellamy–in a totally manly sort of way, of course.

  30. I know that on Amazon, when we set the price for the Kindle Direct eBook of TEAS, we had to put the price in for EVERY region that Amazon sells in. You can set a specific currency and let Amazon calculate the others based off that, but I can confirm that in the United States both Amazon and Kobo are indeed showing $2.99 in USD.

    • Awesome, thanks. And … well, iUniverse is supposed to handle all the pricing, so I *assume* they put in the price correctly. If things aren’t fixed by mid next week, I’ll have to call up Amazon myself and see what’s going on.

      • Whatever you paid iUniverse was “two much, doubled” and I am sorry for your troubles. As a consolation at least I am getting my money’s worth of education on this blog and the AWESOME comments. Writers beware! Happy Easter.

        PS that “Two” is not a typo. Just saying.

        • Lol I got that 🙂 I certainly did pay them too much. The rep I’m talking with about this problem at the moment says he’s looking into it, but … sheesh. Know what I mean? Glad the blog is educational — you can learn from my failures, lol. Happy Easter!

          • Michelle, it is not a “failure” if you learn a valuable life message from a “mistake”. And you are an AWESOME teacher that I am learning from. Never doubt your powers.

  31. I have not experience of selling anything on Amazon so not sure why it seems to be so CRAZY at the moment.

    From here in the UK: $12.24
    Kobo shows it as £6.11 in pounds not dollars so it knows where I am at least 🙂
    Amazon UK = £8.04

  32. “Crazy is the new normal.”

  33. I’m getting $2.99 on both links.

    Have to say, this is one of the reasons I’m afraid to try self-publishing. So far, my background is in short nonfiction, and I have a success rate of about 72% for acceptance on first submission, but I’m tired of selling my work for peanuts. Now I’d like to break into the fiction market, which is a tougher sell, and it seems many publishers today won’t accept authors who haven’t proven themselves through self-publishing first. But when I hear stories like this one, I think maybe I should stick with what’s worked for me in the past and avoid these hassles since I’m not really into writing primarily for the money, anyway.

    Your book looks interesting, but based on the age of the heroine, I’m guessing it’s YA. I’m in my 50s and don’t have as much time for reading as I’d like, so I’ve been hesitant to buy this book (though I’ve been repeatedly tempted, so if I can find the time I’ll likely invest sooner or later). One of my gripes with futuristic romance is that so much seems to be a rip-off of popular movies and t.v., but yours sounds completely original. I think it’s important for writers in this genre to strive for greater originality, so I just want to thank you for making the effort.

    • Well, I do strive for originality 😀 And thanks for taking the time to have a look at my book, even if you don’t end up having the time to read it! And if you do … well, I can promise it’s a fast read, if that alters the equation any 🙂

      As for the pricing … sigh. It’s not really a problem that most independently published authors face — I think the issue here is that I have to do everything through a third party (iUniverse) instead of directly handling it myself, which leaves a lot more room for error. And heck, you could always try self-publishing something and see what happens — especially if you do it yourself, you can publish a book for peanuts, and if it doesn’t work out, then no harm done 🙂

  34. See time-stamp on this comment: Kindle $2.99, Kobo $9.99.
    I can’t explain it but I intend to buy it!

    Just bought it. 🙂

    • Wooo! 😀 You just made my day!!!

      I do hope you went with the Kindle version and not the insanely overpriced Kobo one. No ebook should be that expensive. Gah!

      • Kindle of course! I don’t know anyone who owns a Kobo. Don’t even think I’ve seen one on the train! And I spend a lot of time perving at other people’s e-readers. Not. 😉

  35. RIGHT?????

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  38. $2.99 on both links for me!

    I have no idea why you’re having these problems though. It seems rather strange. I self-published my book and set the prices myself, and they have remained the same since!

    • That’s because you don’t have iUniverse to contend with, lol. I don’t know what they did (and they claim they did nothing), but SOMETHING changed in the last week, and now the prices have gone wonky. I called Amazon to see if I could just get them to bring the prices back down, but they claim only iUniverse can affect the price. So … I’ll just have to keep harassing iUniverse, and hope 🙂

  39. Christina Channelle

    This is the first time I’ve heard of iUniverse. Huh. I self-published directly on Amazon and Kobo with no issues with price. I’m in Canada and on, your book is $9.99 and $9.76 when I go to the .com site. Yeah, I’d say that’s a big difference. They always have to overprice things in Canada, don’t they, lol. Wishing you luck in getting this sorted out 🙂

    • Thanks for checking into that 🙂 Yeah, I’m really starting to wish I’d just direct-published with Amazon, Kobo, etc. Sigh. I’ll definitely be doing that from now on!!!

      • Christina Channelle

        No problem 🙂 Good to go direct but being in Canada, we can’t directly publish with B+N because we need a US bank account 😦 Also, with iBook, you need a Mac. A Mac might be my next gift to myself.

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