How to Set Promotional Prices for your Ebooks

You’ve distributed your ebooks to all the major etailers, and now you’re ready to launch a summer promotion discounting the prices temporarily. A simple task, right? Turns out there’s no single promo price data solution for all etailers, but don’t worry, we’ve got the scoop on how all major etailers process promotional pricing.

EDItEUR and BookNet Canada recommend either a two or three price method for promotional pricing. EDiTEUR’s ONIX 3.0 Implementation and Best Practice Guide explains these options:

Closed-end price promotions (temporary reductions in price) should be specified through provision of either two or three prices – the current price (with an end date, if three prices are specified), the temporary price (with both start and end dates), and optionally the price the product will revert to at the end of the promotion (with a start date). Why use one rather than the other?

  • The two price method is more concise and is generally recommended. The PriceQualifier code 08 specifies the special price is temporary, and that it will revert at the end of the promotion;
  • The three price method (which does not need to use qualifiers) allows the post-offer price to be different from the pre-offer price.

EDItEUR recommends the two price method, but no etailers we queried are currently accepting this method alone to convey a price promotion. We’ve outlined the two price method below, followed by the three price method (used by Kobo), before outlining the other etailers unique requirements for accepting price promotion data.

The two price method

In your ONIX metadata, declare your regular price as usual. Follow this with your promotional price, and include a start and end date for the promotional price. This conveys that the regular price begins again the day after the promotion.

Here’s an ONIX sample in short tags:

<price>
<j148>01</j148> <!-- RRP Price composite -->
<j261>00</j261>
<j151>3.99</j151>
<j152>CAD</j152>
</price>
<price>
<j148>01</j148> <!-- RRP Price composite -->
<j261>08</j261> <!-- Promotional price -->
<j151>1.99</j151>
<j152>CAD</j152>
<j161>20130425</j161> <!-- from -->
<j162>20130501</j162> <!-- to -->
</price>

Here’s the same sample, this time using reference tags:

<price>
<PriceTypeCode>01</PriceTypeCode>
<PriceQualifier>00</PriceQualifier>
<PriceAmount>3.99</PriceAmount>
<CurrencyCode>CAD</CurrencyCode>
</price>
<price>
<PriceTypeCode>01</PriceTypeCode>
<PriceQualifier>08</PriceQualifier>
<PriceAmount>1.99</PriceAmount>
<CurrencyCode>CAD</CurrencyCode>
<PriceEffectiveFrom>20130425</PriceEffectiveFrom>
<PriceEffectiveUntil>20130501</PriceEffectiveUntil>
</price>

The three price method

Kobo

Kobo uses the three price method to set promotional prices for ebooks. This is less concise than the two price method, but more flexible, since it allows the post-offer price to be different from the pre-offer price. The regular price needs an end date the day before the promotion starts (i.e., the dates are considered to be ‘inclusive’). When the promotion ends, the regular price needs to be declared starting the day after the promotion, leaving its end date blank, as follows:

$9.99 [no start date required] until 20130424
$4.99 from 20130425 until 20130501
$9.99 from 20130502 [leave the end date blank]

Here’s how you would express those price changes in ONIX short tags:

<price>
<j148>01</j148> <!-- RRP Price composite -->
<j261>00</j261>
<j151>3.99</j151>
<j152>CAD</j152>
<j161>20130417</j161> <!—from: Note that the start price is not required -->
<j162>20130424</j162> <!-- to -->
</price>
<price>
<j148>01</j148> <!-- RRP Price composite -->
<j261>08</j261> <!-- Promotional price -->
<j151>1.99</j151>
<j152>CAD</j152>
<j161>20130425</j161> <!-- from -->
<j162>20130501</j162> <!-- to -->
</price>
<price>
<j148>01</j148>
<j261>05</j261>
<j151>3.99</j151>
<j152>CAD</j152>
<j161>20130502</j161>
</price>

The same thing using reference tags:

<price>
<PriceTypeCode>01</PriceTypeCode>
<PriceQualifier>00</PriceQualifier>
<PriceAmount>3.99</PriceAmount>
<CurrencyCode>CAD</CurrencyCode>
<PriceEffectiveFrom>20130417</PriceEffectiveFrom>
<PriceEffectiveUntil>20130424</PriceEffectiveUntil>
</price>
<price>
<PriceTypeCode>01</PriceTypeCode>
<PriceQualifier>08</PriceQualifier>
<PriceAmount>1.99</PriceAmount>
<CurrencyCode>CAD</CurrencyCode>
<PriceEffectiveFrom>20130425</PriceEffectiveFrom>
<PriceEffectiveUntil>20130501</PriceEffectiveUntil>
</price>
<price>
<PriceTypeCode>01</PriceTypeCode>
<PriceQualifier>05</PriceQualifier>
<PriceAmount>3.99</PriceAmount>
<CurrencyCode>CAD</CurrencyCode>
<PriceEffectiveFrom>20130502</PriceEffectiveFrom>
</price>

Additionally, if you are signed up to Kobo through eBOUND we can update the prices manually in Kobo to make sure changes take effect immediately. Please contact our Marketing and Communications Coordinator for more information. Note that if you go through eBOUND to update promotional prices any future distributions from CoreSource will overwrite these prices.

 

Unique Etailer Methods

Barnes & Noble

There are two ways to set promotional prices with B&N: through metadata and through a spreadsheet. The first way is to send pricing info via metadata, but B&N can only accept real-time promotional price changes which means that they will only change the price of the book for the current date. B&N will not store future pricing information that is supplied via ONIX. In all likelihood, you will want to send future promo pricing information to B&N, not real-time, so how do you do this? You can use this spreadsheet template to set future promotional prices.

In the spreadsheet, you can add ISBNs, prices, and start and stop dates to the sheet. This allows B&N to drop the price when specified by the publisher while also showing the regular price and the discount amount to customers. When you set the start date for a promotional price, B&N will begin the price at 12 am (00:00) , while the time the price ends on the end date is 11:50 pm (23:50). If you want a one-day price promotion, for example, the columns should read 4/1 and 4/1, as the pricing will be set to start on 4/1 at 12 am and end on 4/1 at 11:50 pm.

To set promotional prices with B&N, please send this completed spreadsheet to our Digital Services Coordinator at least one week in advance of the beginning of the promotional period.

Amazon

Amazon does not accept any time-bound promotion in metadata updates, only a digital list price is accepted. Promotion is handled separately outside of Amazon’s ingestion system. If you are on a contract with Amazon via eBOUND, please contact our Digital Services Coordinator at least two weeks in advance of your promotion with the start and end date and the price for the promotion. If you are on a contract directly with Amazon, please log on to your Vendor Central account and complete the following steps:

  1. Click on “Resource Centre” on the top right side of the screen
  2. Under “Selling Your Products” you will find a form for scheduling pricing promotions. Screenshot below:
  3. Complete the form and submit for processing by clicking “Contact Us” at the bottom of the Vendor Central home page.
  4. Select “Kindle Publishing” as the issue and then the sub-issue for pricing promotions – attach the completed form to your Contact Us case before submitting. Screenshot below:

Please allow at least two weeks advance notice for your promotional prices to take effect. This is to ensure everything is correctly set up and scheduled in Amazon’s system.

Apple

Apple refers to price promotions as “Interval Pricing”. The example below has 4/25 as the promo start date, 4/17 as the on sale date, and 5/1 as the promo end date:

4/17/13 – start date of tier 7
4/25/13 – end date of tier 7 – Note that the end date is exclusive, i.e. the first price is not valid on the end date.
4/25/13 – start date of tier 4 – Note that the start date is inclusive.
5/1/13 – end date of tier 4
5/1/13 – start date of tier 7

That same information expressed in Apple’s proprietary format:

<intervals>
<interval>
<start_date>2013-04-17</start_date>
<end_date>2013-04-25</end_date>
<price_tier>7</price_tier>
</interval>
<interval>
<start_date>2013-04-25</start_date>
<end_date>2013-05-01</end_date>
<price_tier>4</price_tier>
</interval>
<interval>
<start_date>2013-05-01</start_date>
<price_tier>7</price_tier>
</interval>
</intervals>

You can also express price tiers in ONIX 3.0 by <PriceCoded>, it will look something like this:

<PriceCoded>
<PriceCodeType>01</PriceCodeType>
<PriceCodeTypeName>Apple tier</PriceCodeTypeName>
<PriceCode>7a</PriceCode>
</PriceCoded>

Note: If you have your Apple Release Type set to Other (in order to push through prices >$11.99) CoreSource will send your lowest Retail Price in place of a print price. If you have entered in a promotional retail price in your metadata this can prevent your title from remaining live following the promotion as the retail price will be significantly lower than the agency price.

 

Please contact your Digital Services Coordinator to set your Apple Interval Pricing. In your email, supply your promotion price and dates, and include your price information either in the CoreSource metadata template, or in an ONIX file that abides by the EDItEUR and BookNet best practices described above.

If you have questions about setting promotional pricing in your ONIX, please contact our Manager of Technology, and stay tuned for updates as we collect additional etailer responses and as ONIX 3.0 becomes adopted by CoreSource.

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