Analysis: Amazon’s 100 top-selling Kindle books of 2011
This year, Amazon has given us a list of the
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:
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.