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Ask HN: Why prices on Amazon Canada is significantly more expensive than US?
5 points by markus_zhang 47 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 4 comments
Hi experts,

I noticed that Amazon.ca book prices are inflated comparing to the US one. I live in Canada and am really considering purchasing in bulk (20 technical books valuing at say $1,000) and ask my friend in US, who lives close to Ottawa, to send it to me when he goes shopping there. I doubt Custom would charge duty on it.

Example: The Elements of Computing Systems (Paperback)

Amazon.ca: $41.56 Amazon.com: $23.96

BTW this is just a mild example, check out Unix Power Tools, Third Edition (paperback).

The ratio is around 1.7346, while the spot USDCAD is about 1.2776. I can think of a few reasons, but I'd like to consel your opinions.

0) Should not use spot price for comparison

I'd argue that the real conversion rate (paid through credit card) won't be too different from the spot price. May be a few percentage at most.

1) Delivery Charge

On Amazon.ca if I purchase over $35 then delivery is free, while on Amazon.com it's a significant part of the cost (e.g. it shows about $10 for my Canadian address). However, this can be mitigated by making more purchases. For example if I buy another book the average delivery cost drops to $6.5. This is probably just a small percentage of the total cost if I go over, say, $200.

2) Less business opportunities in Canada

Maybe they just don't have many supplies in Canada, so they have to get them from the US. But then again I doubt that's the case for every book, plus the mark up seems to be a bit small if it really has to be transferred from some where in US.

Other reasons that you can think about?

Sleazy anti competition legislation that book reseller lobbyists managed to get out of corrupt politicians.

Here is a link to the official regulations.


>>> (iii) subject to any law of any province with respect to prices concerning the distribution of books, provide the book at a price no greater than

(A) if the book is imported from the United States, the list price in the United States, plus the current exchange rate, plus 10% of the price after conversion, minus any applicable discounts, or

(B) if the book is imported from a country in Europe or any other country, the list price in the country from which the book is imported, plus the current exchange rate, plus 15% of the price after conversion, minus any applicable discounts

Oh, thank you very much! Never heard about this one, wondering if there is a way to repeal it...

In Canada there is a common thing called exclusive supplier rights. It wasn't fair to center out book sellers as almost every product imported and sold in Canada is under the same scheme, the idea behind it is because it is a smaller market the suppliers need protections against price wars to remain profitable and ensure supply. You can consider it kind of a "Supply management" scheme, not as strong as the one covering Canadian dairy farmers but alobg the same lines. For books they managed to apply copyright legislation to it which is a bit different.

The good news is in the USA there are competition laws that make it illegal for a seller to NOT sell You or your friend those books within the USA and You CAN import them into Canada without fear of seizure if they are for personal use.


>>> It should be noted that these regulations do not apply to any of the following:

>>> individual consumers, who are free to “import” books from a foreign bookseller, such as Amazon.com, at any time;

It isn’t just Amazon, look at Home Depot or Walmart. Canada just costs more money and has a lot less choice.

I’ve imported a lot of books and they are supposed to charge GST but I’ve never been invoiced for it.

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