Amazon Slashes Prices on E-Books

Chelsea Handler's My Horizontal Life e-book on sale at Amazon

Amazon’s decided to celebrate summer by selling hundreds of e-books at a discount. “We’re kicking off Kindle Sunshine Deals,” they’re announcing now on Amazon.com, “with over 600 titles on sale for $0.99, $1.99, and $2.99 from numerous bestselling and award-winning authors.” There’s 160 different books that are on sale for just 99 cents, and 480 more that are on sale for less than $3.00. (228 e-books are on sale for just $1.99, and 252 e-books now sell for just $2.99.) “A good book and loads of sun — is there a better way to spend a summer day?” asks a post on Amazon’s Kindle blog.

The sale prices last until midnight on June 15th (PDT), though Amazon launched their special on the first day of June. “The books included in Sunshine Deals are all from small- to mid-sized publishers like Candlewick, Bloomsbury, Sourcebooks, and Tyndale House,” notes one article, adding “As far as we can tell, no e-books published by the ‘big six’ U.S. publishers (which use the agency model, setting their own prices for e-books on Amazon…)” They also make an interesting obvservation — that Amazon is also offering lower prices for pre-orders of two romance e-books (Soldier by Grace Burrowes for $2.99 and Wish You Were Here by Philippa Ashley for $1.99.) “Most book publishers have little experience experimenting with e-book pricing or marketing books directly to customers. We’re guessing that this promotion is serving as a test case for them to try out a range of low prices, particularly on older e-books (or, as in the case of the two books above, on books approaching their publication dates).”

Later an Amazon PR manager confirmed to the web site that the program is “an opportunity for publishers to test compelling pricing coupled with on-site merchandising” (adding “We’re excited about the number of publishers who are participating.” And I have to admit that there’s an interesting variety of books throughout these new bargain-priced titles. For example…

Slaughterhouse Five ($2.99)
Kurt Vonnegut’s classic is now available as a bargain-priced e-book (as is another famous Vonnegut book — Cat’s Cradle.)

My Horizontal Life ($1.99)
Chelsea Handler, the racy talkshow host on E!, tells funny stories about various one-night stands

Casino Royale ($2.99)
Ian Fleming’s original James Bond mystery (which for a while had fallen out of print)

Prince of Tides $2.99
Pat Conroy’s 1986 novel about overcoming a dysfunctional family was made into an Academy Award-winning movie

Promised Land ($1.99)
The fourth mystery in Robert B. Parker’s series of Spenser detective novels

A Death in China ($2.99)
In the early 1980s, Carl Hiaasen and William D. Montalbano wrote what one reviewer called a “fast-paced thriller that captures the real China”

Sophie’s Choice ($2.99)
The original William Styron novel which inspired Meryl Streep’s Oscar-winning movie in 1982.

Chaos: Making a New Science ($2.99)
James Gleick’s best-selling study of how science is being revolutionized by the concept of “chaos theory”

Raichlen’s Tailgating! (99 cents)
32 Righteous Recipes for On-the-Go Grilling from Steven Raichlen (the host of PBS’s “Primal Grill” and a former winner on Iron Chef)


In fact, there seems to be a “summer fun” theme running through many of Amazon’s bargain-priced picks. Besides a 99-cent e-book called “Mini Bar: Rum” (and additional 99-cent e-books for Whiskey, Vodka, and Tequila), there’s also a 99-cent e-book called the “Tropical Cocktails Deck” (where each “card” in the deck offers the reader a new drink recipe.) Amazon’s also advertising two books using a similar format — Massage Deck and The Kama Sutra Deck –and there’s even an e-book called XXX Porn for Women by the Cambridge Women’s Pornography Coop, though it’s more of a practical joke. (“Honey, I paid off our mortgage!” reads the caption on one photo of a fully-clothed man — and the book’s sub-title promises female readers that its subjects are not only hunkier, but also “More Helpful Around the House.”) According to the book’s description at Amazon.com, its authors “understand that sometimes a clean kitchen is hotter than a shower scene.” And they’ve also written a second e-book titled Porn for Women of a Certain Age.

There’s also something called Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno by Kazumi Nonaka, which turns out to be a non-fiction study of Japan’s pop culture (described as a “playful and thoroughly researched handbook”)
And surprisingly, Amazon’s list even includes an e-book that’s called Build this Bong: Instruction and Diagrams for 40 Bongs, Pipes, and Hookahs.

But one book I found particularly intriguing was The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book — written by the actor himself. He’s acknowleding a long-standing internet joke, where impossible stunts are attributed to the former action-movie star. (“Chuck Norris counted to infinity twice… Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door… Chuck Norris does not get frostbite; Chuck Norris bites frost!”) “For the past three years, I’ve been asked repeatedly to select my favorite Chuck Norris Facts…” he writes in a prologue. “So, finally, I’m happy to offer the world 101 of my favorite Facts, with my personal reflections on each… They’re sure to provide you with hours of laughter and encouragement.” He’s donating a share of its profits to kick-start.org, his own personal martial arts charity for children. And there’s even an illustration for each one of the 101 facts, followed by Norris’s own response. (Always starting with the words “Let’s be honest…”)

For $2.99, you can finally read Chuck’s own response to story of how he was bitten by a cobra, “and after five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.”

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