Amazon: Short-Term Discount Promotions – Extending the Life of Older Content

As a book gets older, it can lose visibility to customers because of newer titles hitting the market. However, we know the content is still valuable to the end-user. As a major publisher, we are able to work with our partners to get these resources back in front of our customers. One way we do this is with Amazon by participating in one of their short-term discount promotions, which can drive high volumes of unit purchases in a very short period of time.

Amazon Student Gold Box Deal

One example of this type of promotion is the Amazon Student Gold Box Deal, which Elsevier participated in August 2013. Since the promotion was geared toward students, we chose to promote textbooks that had been on the market for a longer period of time and could use a boost in sales.

It was a 24-hour promotion on the U.S. site only, (, as opposed to the other global regional sites) and all featured titles were sold at 80% off the list price. It was only valid for Kindle editions, and print books were not included.

The promotion contained 61 titles, most published between 2000 – 2010, with some as old as 1994, but none newer than 2011. We chose older titles to give a boost to textbooks that are still relevant in their subject areas, but are likely losing share to used books and other options students now have.


The Amazon campaign produced some great results, selling 533 units across 61 titles in a 24-hour period. As a basis for comparison, in the previous 30 days leading up to the promotion, only 93 units total were sold of these same 61 titles.

The promotion provided an immediate jumpstart in unit sales, allowing the books to not only be added to e-devices, but also to end up in the hands of students in classrooms across the U.S.


We also saw a sales boost after the promotion. In the 30 days following the promotion, these same titles sold an additional 170 units, an 83% sales lift compared to the pre-promotion sales activity. And the 170 units sold after the promotion sold at normal selling prices, which meant an overall increase in sales for these Kindle titles.

Amazon marketed the promotion to their customer base through an email campaign delivered to those who have opted into the Kindle Daily Deal announcements. (See example at right.)

Though we don’t intend to sell all books at such a deep discount, we’ve learned that similar campaigns with thoughtfully chosen titles can increase overall sales of Elsevier books.

We recommend that you opt-in to Amazon promotions as an easy way to monitor if your title has been featured in these types of promotions.

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