Analysis: Amazon’s 100 top-selling Kindle books of 2011

Analysis: Amazon’s 100 top-selling Kindle books of 2011

This year, Amazon has given us a list of the

100 Top-Selling Kindle Books of 2011

I thought I’d do some analysis on it…I’m curious as to how certain characteristics might affect sales ranking. I can test that within this group.

First, the data I collected:

E-books Price Agency Genre TTS Lending Reviews Rating KS Prime
1 0.99 No Fiction Yes Yes 655 4
2 2.99 No Mystery Yes Yes 501 4
3 11.99 Yes Biographies No No 964 4
4 12.99 Yes Fiction No No 328 4
5 14.99 Yes Thriller No No 234 3
6 14.99 Yes Nonfiction No No 726 4
7 12.99 Yes History Yes No 536 4
8 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 254 4
9 8.99 Yes Mystery Yes No 480 3
10 2.99 No Mystery Yes Yes 265 4
11 13.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 258 4
12 9.99 Yes Thriller No No 467 3
13 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 368 3
14 Unk No Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk
15 9.99 Yes Thriller No No 139 3
16 1.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 125 3 Y
17 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 793 3
18 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 227 3
19 0.79 No Science Fiction Yes No 322 4
20 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 154 4
21 0.99 No Thriller Yes Yes 42 4
22 14.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 116 3
23 13.99 Yes Mystery No No 187 4
24 0.99 No Action Yes Yes 54 4
25 0.99 No Thriller Yes Yes 81 4
26 2.99 Yes Fiction No No 221 3 Y
27 0.99 No Mystery Yes Yes 187 3 Y
28 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 92 3
29 12.99 Yes Mystery Yes No 219 2
30 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 508 4
31 9.99 No Children’s No Yes 308 4
32 14.99 Yes Science Fiction No No 570 4
33 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 111 3
34 0.99 Yes Fiction No No 46 2 Y
35 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 179 4
36 14.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 1139 3
37 13.99 Yes Children’s Yes No 689 3
38 3.99 No Romance Yes No 14 3
39 12.99 Yes History Yes No 2544 3
40 9.99 Yes Romance Yes No 144 3
41 12.99 Yes Fiction No No 121 3
42 12.99 Yes Mystery No No 79 3
43 2.99 No Mystery Yes Yes 99 4
44 13.99 Yes Mystery No No 102 3
45 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 82 4
46 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 85 4
47 2.99 No Romance Yes Yes 71 4
48 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 175 3
49 9.29 No Children’s No Yes 145 4
50 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 130 4
51 7.99 Yes Romance Yes No 154 4
52 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 87 4
53 12.99 Yes Fiction No No 209 4
54 12.99 Yes Action Yes No 178 3
55 14.99 Yes Mystery Yes No 177 4
56 12.99 Yes Fiction No No 78 3
57 12.99 Yes Mystery Yes No 106 4
58 8.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 1056 2
59 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 135 4
60 0.99 No Romance Yes Yes 59 4
61 8.37 No Romance Yes No 69 4
62 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 58 3
63 0.99 No Western Yes Yes 58 4
64 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 162 3
65 0.99 No Action Yes Yes 65 4
66 Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk
67 11.99 Yes Fiction No No 204 3
68 12.99 Yes Nonfiction Yes No 208 4
69 4.79 No Romance Yes No 53 4
70 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 170 3
71 12.99 Yes Fantasy Yes No 547 4
72 2.99 No Nonfiction Yes Yes 36 3 Y
73 0.99 No Romance Yes Yes 54 4
74 Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk
75 12.99 Yes Nonfiction Yes No 245 4
76 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 242 2
77 4.97 No Thriller Yes Yes 46 3
78 2.99 No Fiction Yes No 27 4 Y
79 5.21 No Romance Yes No 42 4
80 3.99 No Children’s Yes Yes 252 4
81 14.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 90 3
82 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 160 3
83 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 114 4
84 2.99 No Thriller Yes Yes 87 3
85 9.34 No Nonfiction No No 150 4
86 3.99 No Romance Yes Yes 77 4
87 13.99 Yes Romance Yes No 47 4
88 2.99 No Romance Yes Yes 95 4
89 7.99 No Horror Yes No 526 4
90 11.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 157 4
91 7.99 Yes Mystery Yes No 102 3
92 13.99 Yes Romance Yes No 51 3
93 0.99 No Romance Yes Yes 37 3
94 12.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 106 2
95 2.24 No Nonfiction Yes Yes 108 4 Y
96 9.99 Yes Fiction No No 445 4
97 2.99 Yes Fiction Yes No 32 3
98 0.99 No Action Yes Yes 259 4 Y
99 12.99 Yes Thriller Yes No 66 4
100 19.99 Yes Nonfiction No No 147 4

A couple of comments about the data:

  • When it says “unk” (for unknown), it’s becasue the book is not available right now. That in itself was interesting to me. I sort of expect e-books to always stay available, certainly fiction ones. That would seem to be doubly true of ones that sell well, like the ones on this list…but it’s not
  • KS stands for “Kindle Single”. They can be proud of that program…5 of the top 100 are Kindle Singles. That’a very high representation in the first (partial) year of a program!
  • Prime means that the book is available as part of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, which is avaialable to paid subscribers to Prime. That probably won’t have affected sales much (it happened too recently)
  • The genres are a little subjective on my part. I didn’t choose one that wasn’t listed, but if I had both “fiction” and “romance” listed for Danielle Steel, I went with romance. :)
  • As you’ve no doubt noticed, I didn’t list titles or authors. I don’t like to promote books that have text-to-speech access blocked, so I didn’t list any of them. I also like to look at it a bit more generically…while a famous author certainly may affect sales, I’m looking at these other characteristics this time
  • When I’m looking at rating, I’m rounding down and just doing it based on the stars. If the fourth started was partially filled in, I counted it as three stars
  • Note that the information you are seeing may have changed during the course of the year. The price now hasn’t necessarily been stable for the year

The first thing I wanted to look at was how many of the books were not published by the Agency Model publishers. Those are largely the Big Six…the six largest trade publishers in the US.

My reason for that is that, before e-publishing became popular (before the Kindle in 2007), best-seller lists would almost always be comprised entirely of books from traditional publishers. The difficulties of distribution meant that it was very hard a small or independent publisher to crack that list.

Remarkably, 33 of the books on the list were non-Agency books! Two more were unknown, but I would presume, based on the books, that they are non-Agency. Remember that before e-publishing, the number would likely have been very close to zero. If you check the paperbook best-sellers from Amazon this year, I think you’ll find a few that aren’t Agency Model…but none that were independently published.

The next question for me is whether being an Agency Model book hurt or helped within this group.

With 100 titles, the average ranking is 50.5.

The lower the average ranking, the better you are doing (the #1 ranked seller is doing better than the #100 ranked seller).

The average ranking for the known Agency Model books in this group is 47.1. So, non-Agency books (counting the two unknown ones) did somewhat worse than Agency Model books.

The average ranking where text-to-speech access is known to be blocked is 39.2. Clearly, within this group, blocking text access is better. My guess is that the unknown ones did not block it, which would have affected this somewhat.

Oh, one key thing: when my listing says “Yes” for text-to-speech, it means it is available (it is not blocked).

My next check? Does enabling lending help? No, the average ranking there is 54.8.

I’ve also always thought that having more reviews (good, bad, or indifferent) helps the sales. The average number of reviews on this list was 247.1. The ranking for books with more than that? 33.6…that definitely seems to help. If the number of reviews is under 100, the average ranking is 62.6. If it’s over 500 reviews, the average ranking is 34.2.

What about the rating given by readers?

  • 2 stars: 58.2 average ranking
  • 3 stars: 47.2 average ranking
  • 4 stars: 51.9 average ranking

Next, price points:

  • 0.79 (1 title): 19 average ranking
  • 0.99 (12): 48.67
  • 1.99 (1): 16
  • 2.24 (1): 95
  • 2.99 (10): 45.7
  • 3.99 (3): 68
  • 4.79 (1): 69
  • 4.97 (1): 77
  • 5.21 (1): 79
  • 7.99 (3): 77
  • 8.37 (1): 61
  • 8.99 (2): 33.5
  • 9.29 (1): 49
  • 9.34 (1): 85
  • 9.99 (5): 38.8
  • 11.99 (3): 53.3
  • 12.99 (30): 48.4
  • 13.99 (6): 49
  • 14.99 (13): 39.5
  • 19.99 (1): 100
  • Unknown (3); 51.3

I checked books below $10 and books $10 or higher. The average rank for books over $9.99 was better, at 47.5.

I also looked at genres. I tended to lump rather than split…one exception is mystery and thriller being listed separately. I just don’t see a shoot-em-up in the same category as Agatha Christie. :)

  • Action (4 titles): 60.3 average ranking
  • Children’s (4): 49.3
  • Fantasy (1): 71
  • Fiction (27): 54.5
  • History (2): 23 (this could have gone in nonfiction)
  • Horror (1): 89
  • Mystery (12): 36
  • Nonfiction (8): 63
  • Romance (14): 68.9
  • Science Ficton (2): 25.5
  • Thriller (21): 36.5
  • Unknown (3): 51.3
  • Western (1): 51.3

Just a few other things that caught my eye:

  • John Locke is a one-person bestseller list! Locke has four titles on this list. Nora Roberts has three
  • There were a number of Penguin books on the list…they’ve done some things some consumers haven’t liked, but their books still sell
  • Congratulatins go to Kindle blogger and author Michael Gallagher for having a book on this list: Free Kindle Books and How to Get Them

Well, there you go. The big story to me is the loosening of the grip of the Big Six on publishing. I do think they may make some smart moves in the future (at least some of them), so i don’t want to say that the non-Agency Model publishers will outrank them on average next year…but it’s possible. :)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

About these ads

6 Responses to “Analysis: Amazon’s 100 top-selling Kindle books of 2011”

  1. tuxgirl Says:

    Interesting. I’m curious how many of these were offered free at some point in the year (to get noticed), and if so, whether the numbers are only including the time they were not free. (Even if they don’t count sales while free, being free for a bit could bump them up a bit.

    Also would be interesting to see a list of the top 100 books in terms of gross payment to the author. I bet that would be a very different list, but it might give some authors a bit of time to pause and think about things a bit… :)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, tuxgirl!

      The way they said it in the press release on the bestsellers, I’m guessing they only counted paid downloads (not freebies). However, making them free can certainly get them noticed.

      We aren’t going to know your last one, but it’s complicated. We’d have to know the royalty rates, the price of the book throughout the year, how many licenses were sold. We can’t even tell on the Kindle Direct Publishing books…we can guess what the royalty rate is, but we don’t know if the author takes that whole amount, or if someone else is taking a cut. The KDP publishers are largely just an author, I would guess, but not always.

      I would guess that some indies (independently published authors) do better than some traditionally published authors…but they don’t get advances…

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Interesting analysis.

    Couple of things struck me. At first I thought there was a mild correlation between # of reviews and rank (those near the top of the list garner more reviews), but if it’s there, it’s weak. I did notice a couple of titles a ways down the list with over 1000 reviews: one was a Clan of the Cave Bear follow-on, and the other was about witches and vampires (not surprising either of these — I guess).

    And then there was the real outlier one book with over 2500 reviews! This turned out to be Bill O’Reilly’s latest. Without looking I guessed it was gonna have a lot of 1-star and 5-star reviews. I checked: 4+5 stars 1300+ (over 1100 5-stars); and over 1100 1-stars — almost no 2 or 3-star reviews — yet the average rating was 3-stars — welcome to the wonderful world of statistics. I guess this is the epitome of a polarizing title :-).

    On the price point analysis: I would suggest doing it using price bands because any bucket with 5 or fewer titles in it is not going to be very significant. $0.99 and under, $1.00-2.99, $3.00-8.98, $8.99-9.99, $10-12.99, and $13.00 and up is how I would do the price point analysis. I suspect this wouldn’t show much price/ranking correlation. OTOH the low relative ranking of $14.99 titles perhaps shows the value of curation: someone figured out that those titles would be popular, and therefore could stand a higher price.

  3. Chuck Says:

    Very interesting to see how many “higher” priced books are on the list. There are those out there who predict the end of the world as we know it due to the easy availability of free and very cheap books. But this list seems to suggest that readers will still pay more for the books they really, really want. Good to know.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Chuck!

      Excellent point!

      I’m a former bookstore manager, and a lot of people seem to put way too much emphasis on price in consumer buying decisions. People simply don’t always buy the cheapest…even the lowest price for the exact same item. I’ve been discussing that with people who are concerned about Amazon’s buying app affecting brick and mortar stores. In a brick and mortar, many people will buy from your store because they like you…yes, personally. They want to support your business.

  4. Michael Gallagher Says:

    Bufo-

    Thanks for the mention in your post, I appreciate it. That little title continuing to be on the best selling list for two years in a row really surprises me.

    I hope you and your family have a great Christmas, and here’s to hoping 2012 is a lot better than 2011.

    Regards,

    Michael Gallagher

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,297 other followers

%d bloggers like this: