Amazon finally released Kindle in India (you can currently buy it from Croma in India) along with the Kindle Store. The Kindle store was a pleasant surprise, since it showed the price of books in INR. Also I found that a number of Indian titles were also present, including everyone’s favorite author – Chetan Bhagat !!!
This got me thinking on whether the skewed pricing that is often seen in e-book titles in the US also holds good here. To test this hypothesis, I chose a sample of 50 books from the bestseller list on Flipkart for both fiction and non-fiction titles. I noted the price for these titles for both Flipkart and Kindle. The idea was to see if the e-books were substantially cheaper than their dead tree counterparts. The summary of that analysis can be seen below:

Flipkart Vs Amazon

Flipkart Vs Amazon

The chart plots the difference in price between Flipkart and Amazon Kindle. The Flipkart price is taken as the base and so a negative difference indicates that the Amazon price is more expensive than the Flipkart one. Click on the image above to open an interactive view. You can hover your mouse over each point to see details or select some points using the mouse and only see them to kind of zoom into the details.

What I noticed was that

  • On an average, e-books were about 20% cheaper than the dead-tree counterparts
  • The average savings that one would make by going the e-book route would be about INR 52
  • The savings for a significant number of books, about 46% of the total, is negligible (INR 30 or less)
  • There are outliers where the Kindle copy is substantially more expensive than the physical copy
  • These outliers seem to be more prominent in case on Non-Fiction books
  • A number of books, including popular ones like Ascent of Money, are not available on Kindle. Also a number of Indian authors were not to be found on the Amazon Kindle store.

So does buying e-books make sense, given that they are 20% cheaper on an average? I don’t think so, mainly because of the fact that the cost savings for a number of titles are not substantial, with the title being only a few rupees cheaper or in some case more expensive. Also given that one can’t lend or re-sell the e-book as yet like a physical copy, it does seem like a raw end of the deal to buy an e-book.
However, it’s great to note that the Kindle store seems to have a decent collection of Indian titles and might just make sense to use the Kindle for one-time reads.

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  1. Achint Parekh says:

    Hmm. Any points for the portability of the books (since they’re all on one light device) and ease of reading/bookmarking in a consolidated manner

  2. enygmatic says:

    Good points Achint, but any particular reason why something that is virtual and has zero incremental cost of production – should cost so much ? This is particular true of older titles where the costs typically cited by publishers as reasons for high e-book prices have already long been absorbed by their dead tree counterparts…