USA Today bestsellers: are e-books taking over?

USA Today bestsellers: are e-books taking over?

The USA Today shows us, in its bestseller ranks, in which format (hardback/paperback/e-book) a book sold the most “copies”.

On February 10 last year (2011), I looked at the question of which format was more popular based on that, and concluded that e-books were more popular.

E-Revolution Hits the Bestseller List

My guess at that time would have been that e-books would keep growing as a share of the bestsellers, and they have.

However, I think I underestimated how popular hardbacks would continue to be…for children’s books.

USA Today Bestseller List

For example, Mockingjay, the third book in the Hunger Games series, sold more as a hardback in this listing. The book has been on the list for 96 weeks (!), and is available as an e-book.

I have an idea about that.

It could be because a book like that is more likely to be bought by an adult for the reader (although many of the readers of this book are adults, of course). It could be that those adults are still seeing a gift of a book as something that should last. They remember getting books as a kid, and may even still have some of them.

So, a gifted book may be more likely to be a hardback still, I think.

That also ties into my suggestion that books may become better quality and go up in price.

Just an idea, though.

Okay, let’s compare February last year to this year:

  • February 2011: 43 of the top 150 bestsellers sold the most as e-books
  • June 2012: 54 of the top 150 bestsellers sold the most as e-books

However, the average ranking of e-books in February 2011 was 64, which is considerably better than the overall overage of 75. In June of 2012, the average rank was 78…so e-books were less popular than hardbacks and paperbacks.

When we look at the ten best-ranked e-books, the average in 2011 was 4.4…and is now 12.8.

So, more books on the bestseller list sell the best in e-book form…but they aren’t ranked as high.

I suspect that we’ll continue to see e-books continue to take over more of the bestseller list. It will be interesting  to see what happens with the ranking.

The other thing I looked at back then was the number of books on the list that were independently published (or sold outside the Agency Model).

Back then, there were six independently published books…all by Amanda Hocking.

This time, there are four published through Kindle Direct Publishing (although the last one is listed as Smashwords in the list):

There’s also a book published by one of Amazon’s traditional publishing imprints, AmazonCrossing:

The Hangman’s Daughter

Honestly, I would have expected there to be more indies in the list at this point. The end of the Agency Model might reverse the growth I expected, although that’s not entirely sure.

I’ll keep my eye on things…

Here’s the list:

Rank Format
1 P
2 E
3 P
4 H
5 H
6 P
7 E
8 P
9 E
10 E
11 E
12 P
13 E
14 E
15 H
16 E
17 H
18 H
19 P
20 H
21 H
22 E
23 H
24 E
25 P
26 H
27 E
28 E
29 P
30 H
31 P
32 H
33 P
34 H
35 E
36 P
37 P
38 E
39 H
40 H
41 H
42 P
43 P
44 H
45 E
46 P
47 H
48 E
49 P
50 p
51 E
52 E
53 E
54 H
55 E
56 P
57 E
58 P
59 E
60 P
61 H
62 P
63 H
64 E
65 P
66 P
67 E
68 E
69 P
70 H
71 E
72 E
73 P
74 P
75 E
76 P
77 H
78 E
79 H
80 E
81 E
82 H
83 H
84 P
85 H
86 H
87 H
88 E
89 H
90 P
91 P
92 P
93 H
94 P
95 E
96 H
97 P
98 P
99 E
100 E
101 H
102 P
103 H
104 H
105 H
106 P
107 H
108 E
109 P
110 H
111 H
112 P
113 E
114 P
115 E
116 P
117 E
118 E
119 H
120 H
121 p
122 P
123 E
124 E
125 P
126 P
127 P
128 E
129 H
130 P
131 H
132 H
133 P
134 H
135 E
136 E
137 E
138 H
139 E
140 E
141 P
142 h
143 E
144 E
145 E
146 E
147 P
148 P
149 E
150 E

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


No Responses to “USA Today bestsellers: are e-books taking over?”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    When I was teaching, the big event of the year was when the Scholastic Book Fair came to the building. Kids would get money from their parents to spend on books published by Scholastic. (They also sold a lot of silly trinkets for the kids who couldn’t afford a book, and they also let each teacher pick out a number of books for their classroom based on total sales.) If I’m not mistaken, the Hunger Games trilogy was published by Scholastic. When I was teaching, the Harry Potter books were the big sellers at the book fair. I’ve been retired for a few years now, but I’m assuming Scholastic still sponsors the book fairs. I wonder if the sales at these fairs help the overall sales of paper books.

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