Why Australians pay more for their ebooks than others

by Tony

Understandably, Australians have been complaining for quite some time about the apparent surcharge that Amazon and other ebook sellers add to the prices that they have to pay for their ebooks.

Up till now there has been an assumption that it is Amazon simply charging them more for their ebooks out of greed or spite or for some such reason (see an earlier post on this topic, link below),  but I think I may have discovered the true reasons behind this surcharge.  In passing, I would like to mention that  whilst many ebooks cost more in Oz than elsewhere, there are also ebooks that are in fact cheaper in Oz than elsewhere on Amazon's lists.  I should also like to point out that it isn’t only Amazon who do this, but all ebook sellers do it too.

Last evening I was discussing this with Caro, my Daughter in Law here in Oz, and she was very surprised to hear this complaint, as she hadn’t noticed the problem herself (she is also a Kindle owner).   So off she rushed and sent an email to Amazon asking what the reasoning was behind this apparent surcharge.

Here is the email she got back (within minutes by the way):

Thank you for writing to us on Amazon.com regarding the difference in price of Kindle books in different countries. I would like to tell you that pricing of titles from the Kindle Store varies by your country or region due to differences in digital list prices, local market segment prices, and tax rates.

If you’re browsing in the Kindle Store and the country or region displayed doesn’t match your actual home country or region, you may see a different price during checkout that is specific to your home country or region.

You’ll also find helpful information on our Using Kindle If You Live Outside the United States Help page:


I hope this information helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

So, it would seem to be a mix of reasons:

Tax: It appears that Amazon collect the Australian import duty on ebooks that they send to you guys, in order to hand that on to the Australian government.  They don’t do this with paper books, as those can be taxed as they arrive by the Australian Customs themselves, but electronic stuff like ebooks doesn’t actually appear at the border to be taxed, obviously.

This is something you Australians need to take up with your government – Good luck trying that!!!!

Local market segment prices: I think this relates to the pricing that author’s agents and publishers fix for different parts of the world, and is thus not under Amazon’s control.

I am not sure who you will need to attack to try and sort this one out, but in any event, it isn’t Amazon who is to blame for this one.   Try writing angry letters to the publishers of the book in question, might help.

Differences in digital list prices: I haven’t a clue what this is supposed to mean,and we shall write to Amazon again asking them to explain what on earth this might mean in real english.  When we discover what it means, I shall let you know.

So, now you know (not that it helps much to know, sadly).

Should you follow the link they give it takes you on a long trek through various help pages, which merely give you the prices of your chosen ebook in various countries, with no reasons given for the differences you will find there.  Not very helpful, I found.

As some of you have noticed, this problem isn’t only one that Australians suffer from, it is universal.  People in Uzbekistan, Poland, Britain and every country in the world suffer from this problem to a greater or lesser degree, and to be honest, I am not optimistic that a solution will ever be found – I can’t imagine that all the governments in the world would ever agree on a flat rate of import duty for ebooks somehow, not to mention the geographical pricing that agents and publishers impose on ebook sellers such as Amazon.

About Nate Hoffelder (11789 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

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