With as little fanfare as it began, Overstock.com ended its stealth war on Amazon’s book business late last week. The price war, which it began on July 22 with a relatively few tiles and extended on July 25 to its entire book inventory, stopped at midnight August 8. During the two-week face off, Overstock offered deep discounting, as did Amazon on some books, sometimes more than 50%. Both Overstock’s home page and its landing page for books promised customers prices that were 10% lower on physical books than Amazon’s.
Although Amazon declined to comment throughout the standoff on the war or which titles it chose to match, Overstock garnered national attention and told PW that it saw a jump in sales. Last week when many in the book world were focused on e-book pricing and Apple’s bid in U.S. District Court to overturn Judge Cote’s ruling, Overstock moved on. Its latest promotion is more concerned with the home and decorative pillows and microsuede slippers: The Snoop Market with Snoop Lion.
This story has been revised with the following clarification: While the Overstock Web site no longer references cutting prices below Amazon, it is continuing to do so. A book check of several titles that both retailers heavily discounted in July and offered at the same price, showed that Overstock’s price is lower as of Aug. 12. But in each case the retailers have increased their prices. Dan Brown’s Inferno ($29.95 list), which both had discounted to $11.65 in late July is now: $14.09 at Amazon, $12.68 at Overstock. Similarly Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl ($25), which had been $10.93 is now: $12.84 at Amazon, $11.56 at Overstock.
Overstock spokesperson Judd Bagley told PW, “The book promotion remains in place.” However, it’s not clear that Overstock is waging a price war anymore. It’s starting to look more like a skirmish.