Kobo has confirmed that a bug on their website meant that some US readers were incorrectly shown international prices for ebooks, instead of the prices they should have been shown. In cases where publishers had specified different prices for different territories, this meant that there was significant variation. The retailer says that if any customers paid the wrong price, they’ll be contacted and the issue will be resolved.
Many customers are sensitive about ebook prices at the moment, but the Kobo story has led to discussion of similar problems at other sites. There have been suggestions that some customers have noticed pricing inconsistencies at sites such as Amazon. As a UK customer who sometimes ends up on the Amazon.com site instead of Amazon.co.uk, I’m quite used to seeing dollar prices change seemingly randomly, seemingly due to whether the price is being displayed in a list of titles or on a produt page.
What this story really seems to be about, though, is the continued practice of charging more for an ebook in one territory than in another. Why should an ebook cost less (or more) in the US, compared to Europe or Asia? Sure, publishers can charge what they like, but it seems that readers are becoming confused and in some cases are interpreting this as price-gouging. Would a consistent global price really be such a big problem?