When Overstock.com announced last week that they were going to beat Amazon’s book prices by 10% on all 360,000 titles carried by Overstock, it looked to be a classic first volley in a price war. Amazon returned fire a day later with their own sale on best sellers, and now Overstock is back with their next maneuver.
Overstock announced today that they were extending their sale. The deep discounted prices are going to stay in effect at least through 7 August, and possibly even later. The CEO told PW that he plans to review the situation in a week and consider the matter then.
There’s no word yet on how Amazon plans to respond, though I would not be surprised if they also continued to offer the deep discounts on best sellers. Amazon has always had a policy of matching competitor’s (most of the time), and they’ve never been one to step away from a fight.
That is certainly one way to describe the last time Amazon got into a price war over books. Back in 2009 Amazon, Walmart, and Target got into a 3 way tussle over new best sellers (followed by . That war was started by Walmart, which first announced that they would sell 10 new hardcover titles at $9.99. After Amazon (and later Target) matched the price, Walmart lowered their prices again.
I have no direct info on how long that war lasted, but I am told that the 3 retailers went through several rounds of price cuts before someone blinked. There is a good chance that the same thing could happen in the Overstock/Amazon price war.