I’m not happy with this post.
Oh, it’s not about the writing. After all, I’ve only written eighteen words so far…make that twenty-four…twenty-five…drat!
It’s just that the facts didn’t come out the way I would have preferred.
I figured I would run a little analysis to see if blocking text-to-speech hurts sales. I don’t buy them, and some people are boycotting Random House, the only publisher which has chosen to block it at this point.
My hypothesis: the average rank of a Kindle book (k-book) would be lower if text-to-speech was blocked. I didn’t know if that was going to turn out to be true or not, but I wanted to test it.
I took the top twenty-five p-book (paperbook) bestsellers at Amazon that also had Kindle editions. That list is updated every hour, so it’s pretty volatile.
I had to get down to the 38th p-book seller before I had 25 that were also available in k-book. The story would have been very different if I looked at New York Times bestsellers, of course.
Interestingly, some of them had much worse rankings as k-books. The #38 p-book seller was #1215 in k-book. Part of that is all the free and low-cost books on the k-book bestseller list. The average rank of the p-books was 19: it was 140 in k-book.
Before we get down to the headline question, let’s talk price a bit.
Amazon discounts books…a lot. I’m comparing here the Amazon prices. If you bought all 25 books in p-book, it would cost you $321.77. If you bought the same 25 books in k-book, it would cost you $251.64.
That’s a savings of $76.13.
Average price for p-book: $13.66. Average price in k-book: $10.49. That’s an average savings of $3.17 a book.
The prices in p-book ranged from $6.59 to $17.97. The k-book prices: $6.59 to $16.50.
One Kindle book cost more than its paper equivalent (by seventy cents). Four cost the same, and twenty were cheaper (savings ranged from twenty-three cents to $6.80).
Generally, k-books are cheaper than p-books (for the top 25 p-books that also have k-books), but not absolutely always.
Now, on to text-to-speech. There are a number of factors at work here. Random House (including its imprints) is the only publisher blocking text-to-speech, and they are one of the big dogs. However, I’m not using that as an excuse: if a boycott was really being effective, I’d still expect to see an impact.
Here’s the figure:
Average rank of books with text-to-speech blocked: 81
Average rank of books without text-to-speech blocked: 190
So, books with text-to-speech blocked did much better than books without it blocked.
Of course, there is no way to tell how many more they might have sold without it blocked. They could even have sold fewer.
It’s a small sample. It doesn’t isolate the variables.
However, I’m not only going to write about things that help what I want.
My guess is that it’s still bad business in the long run to block text-to-speech…but that wasn’t apparent when I did this analysis.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.