This is a guest post by Ameer Abbas; a blogger and most viewed writer on Quora. Ameer specializes in Internet Privacy, Cyber Security, VPN, and Torrents. He is also working as a privacy advocate with BestVPNProvider.com.

When Ameer contacted me to share a startling discovery he’d made, I decided to share it with you. I’d love to hear what you think about this in your comments below! 

Fantastic eBook Prices And Where To Find them

Location Switcing 1 | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksLike everything else, the internet and smart devices have changed the way we read books. That fascinating experience of turning crispy leaves and aroma of ageing paper has been replaced by glimmering screens and swiping gestures.

In a 2014 survey PEW Research unveiled a gradual increase in the number of people in the USAadopting e-books as their reading medium. The same research also unveiled that an estimated 50% of US adults now own a tablet computer or an e-reader.

Location Switcing 2 | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

As more people get acquainted with e-Readers and tablets the transition towards eBooks is becoming smoother. While the stimulating feeling of turning pages and holding a book close will remain supreme, eBooks will soon prevail in a market cluttered with millennials.

Amazon’s author earnings report February 2016 identified that daily eBook sales ranged around 1,064,000 (that’s 33 million eBooks per month), while eBook earnings stood at $5.25 billion in 2015.

The Amazon eBook store is now a reader’s paradise, with Kindle readers and Kindle apps encouraging readers to make the transition not just on Amazon tablets & Kindle readers but also over smartphones. Today, the Amazon Kindle store stands at a gargantuan library featuring over 800,000 eBooks.

Reader Paradise

While reading enthusiasts have not yet abandoned their love for books, there is still a growing number of users with smart devices who now enjoy carrying a library of books on their tablet PCs. A recent article on Fortune (in response to a New York Times article) highlights the growth of eBooks.

As a response to this perceived threat, several publishers keep eBook prices ridiculously high, in order to encourage the sales of hardcover copies.

The Bargain

Austin Phelps once said, “Wear the old coat but buy the new book.” Well, I would, Mr. Phelps, but publishers are making it awfully hard to do so. To keep their print sales up, publishers maintain higher prices for eBooks than their print counterparts. In 2014, Which.co.uk went on to compare the top 5 eBook stores, analyzing the prices of 10 bestselling books at the time:

Location Switcing 3 | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

While Amazon Kindle took the cake in 2014, come 2016 and the game has changed phenomenally. I went on to cross check the prices for 3 New York Times best-sellers over the 5 famed eBook stores and here is what I found:

  Insidious by
Catherine Coulter
The Girl on the Train by
Paula Hawkins
The Underground Railroad by
Colson Whitehead
Amazon Kindle $15.00 $9.99 $13.99
Barnes & Noble NOOK $12.99 $11.99 $13.99
Kobo $15.00 $9.99 $13.99
Google Books $12.99 $9.99 $13.99
iBook $12.99 $11.99 Not unavailable to buy

The new trend seems to be that prices are more or less identical. After stiff competition for over a decade, Amazon had finally lost its grip over the eBook market, with all stores more or less offering the same rates for digital literature. However, during these cross checks, I also noticed a brilliant bargain while visiting different Kindle stores using my VPN.

A discovery: location switching

Location Switcing 4 | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksCall it a cheap trick if you will. For me, it was an eye-opening discovery. Did you know that the price shifts dramatically depending on your location? This is determined automatically, but you can also declare the location you want your computer to show when visiting a website.

There is something that the tech world terms “location switching.” Location switching is a trick where you can change your location virtually. This means that, no matter where you are in the world, your online location can be displayed as, say, Canada or the United Kingdom. This feat is usually accomplished using a VPN or Virtual Private Network, although there are also plenty of applications that allow you to switch your location (usually for privacy reasons).

Location Switcing 5 | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksFor my tests, I used PureVPN. This allowed me access to a server based in India. My location was changed to Mumbai, and I could now access the Amazon Kindle store for India. While connected to the Indian Amazon Kindle store, I noticed a certain anomaly: eBooks, including New York bestsellers, were now 90% cheaper to buy on the Indian Kindle store!

I checked prices for the Kindle version of both ‘The Girl on the Train’ and ‘The Underground Railroad’, and noticed that they were both a 10th of their quoted price in both the US & UK Amazon stores. The Girl on the Train, for instance, costs $9.99 on the US Kindle Store, while it costs a very attractive $2.46 on the Indian Kindle Store.

Location Switcing 6 | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Prices of selected eBooks on the US Amazon Kindle Store

Location Switcing 7 | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Prices of selected book on the Indian Amazon Kindle Store

In a Nutshell

Undoubtedly, it is a great bargain to find your favorite eBooks at the most attractive prices (10% of the original price!)

However, the question is, is it ethical to do so? On one hand, it feels wrong to trick vendors by lying about your location. On the other hand, should we be paying high prices for eBooks just because publishers wish to push the print editions, even though there is nothing tangible to justify that cost?

As this blog is addressed to both authors and readers, I’d love to hear what you think: is lavish pricing the correct strategy for eBooks? If not, should we use tricks like location switching to find the best bargain? And what does that mean for authors?

Please let us know in the comments below!

%d bloggers like this: