USA Kindle Store Bestseller Analysis April 19 2014

USA Kindle Store Bestseller Analysis April 19 2014

I do an analysis of the bestsellers in the USA Kindle store from time to time. The last one was on November 10 2013.

Unfortunately, just as we’ve been seeing with our monthly Snapshot of the New York Times bestseller fiction hardback equivalents, the prices have gone up…a lot. The top twenty titles averaged $4.77 in November…and they average $6.48 today. That’s an increase of almost 36%!

That reverses a drop that we had seen before.

It simply can’t be ignored that some prices on e-books at Amazon are going up. It’s possible that other prices are going down even more, but that’s hard to tell easily.

When we look at the features, we again have the impact of some of these books being Kindle First books…meaning they haven’t actually been published yet. Those books are apparently not listed as part of the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library), which makes sense. You can order them before they are published, but you can’t borrow them before.

Here’s a look at the top 50:

 

Rank Publisher Price TTS X-Ray Lending KOLL WSV KMB
1 Amazon $4.99 Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
2 Hachette $7.50 Yes Yes No No Yes No
3 Indie $0.99 Yes Yes No No No No
4 Harper $7.99 Yes Yes No No Yes Yes
5 Harper $4.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
6 Harper $1.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
7 Harper $6.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
8 Penguin $11.99 Yes Yes No No No No
9 Penguin $7.74 Yes Yes No No Yes No
10 Harper $6.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
11 Amazon $4.99 Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
12 Harper $14.99 Yes Yes No No No No
13 Hachette $8.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
14 Penguin $5.99 Yes Yes No No No No
15 Amazon $4.99 Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
16 Indie $0.01 Yes No No No No No
17 Penguin $11.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
18 Open Road $2.51 Yes Yes Yes No No No
19 Random $1.99 Yes No No No No No
20 S&S $10.99 No Yes No No Yes No
21 Harper $6.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
22 Amazon $4.99 Yes Yes Yes No No No
23 Amazon $3.99 Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
24 Penguin $7.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
25 Random $8.99 Yes Yes No No No No
26 Amazon $4.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
27 Harper $0.99 Yes Yes No No No No
28 Hachette $12.74 Yes No No No No No
29 Indie $3.99 Yes Yes Yes No No No
30 Norton $13.64 Yes Yes No No No No
31 Indie $0.01 Yes No No No No No
32 Amazon $4.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
33 Indie $0.99 Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
34 Random $6.49 Yes Yes No No Yes No
35 Hay House $4.39 Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
36 Indie $7.99 No No No No No No
37 Penguin $7.99 Yes No No No No No
38 Random $19.99 Yes No No No No No
39 Indie $0.99 Yes Yes No No No No
40 Amazon $3.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
41 Open Road $1.99 Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
42 Penguin $10.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
43 Indie $3.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
44 Indie $0.99 Yes Yes No No No No
45 Indie $0.99 Yes No Yes No No No
46 Indie $0.99 Yes Yes No No No No
47 Indie $0.01 Yes Yes No No No No
48 Random $4.99 No Yes No No No No
49 Harper $0.99 Yes Yes No No Yes No
50 Rosetta $1.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Summary $5.69 47 42 16 5 23 7
Percentage 94 84 32 10 46 14

Comparing it to November, we see this:

TTS (Text-To-Speech): this is up a significant amount, being at 94% instead of 85%. My intuition is that blocking TTS is going away as a strategy

X-Ray: 84% versus 95%…that’s a big drop

Lending: 32% versus 25%

KOLL: 10% versus 10% (no change)

Whispersync For Voice: 46% versus 35%. Another significant increase. It’s funny, this would seem to me like a relatively difficult task. It has to help that Amazon owns two audiobook companies (Audible and Brilliance)

Kindle Matchbook: 14% versus 5…nearly tripled!

Kindle First is clearly working: eight of the top 50 are Amazon, versus five in November.

The  number of indies (independently published books) is up by twenty percent…from ten to twelve.

One other interesting observation: I was surprised to see books priced at one penny in the top 50. Indies can’t typically price their books below $0.99. The books could be considered seasonal, so I wonder if one of Amazon’ price algorithms got in a limbo fight (“how low can you go”) with another algorithm?

Bonus deal: the first book in the Crash Gordon series by Derek Swannson is free through April 22nd:

Review: Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg

As full disclosure,  I have some correspondence with Derek Swannson (we’ve never met  in person), and was privileged to offer some advice and do some proof-reading on the second book:

Crash Gordon and the Revelations from Big Sur (at AmazonSmile)

I haven’t had a chance to read the “final” version, though…but I do know I was acknowledged.🙂

You can’t always tell from this blog😉 but I am a good (amateur) proof-reader. I was also pleased to see that some of my editorial advice was taken as well…I’ve done that for a few people. I think it particular that the opening structure is stronger.

Just like the first book, I will warn you that many people will see it as beyond the bounds of good taste. However, with a 4.8 average with 25 reviews, it’s also apparent that many people like it.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

5 Responses to “USA Kindle Store Bestseller Analysis April 19 2014”

  1. rogerknights Says:

    “. . . the prices have gone up…a lot. The top twenty titles averaged $4.77 in November…and they average $6.48 today. That’s an increase of almost 36%! That reverses a drop that we had seen before. It simply can’t be ignored that some prices on e-books at Amazon are going up.”

    TOLDJA! See this thread: https://ilmk.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/does-amazon-ever-need-to-make-money-on-e-books/
    Where I wrote, or quoted myself as saying in an earlier thread:

    “Well, surely in five years’ time, max, Amazon or its stockholders will get tired of losing as much money as they are doing on e-Books.”

    IOW, I suggested that Amazon will eventually want to be less aggressive with its loss-leader strategy, by changing the mix of the e-Books it sells to include fewer at low prices, because in time it will no longer be in a war with other eBook and eReader sellers. That’s a somewhat different thing from saying that Amazon will want to make money on e-Books.

    You and I exchanged several lengthy salvos on this matter. You wrote:

    “If Amazon’s profit comes from infrastructure which overwhelms losses from its retail pricing, and if that retail pricing is seen as driving the need for the infrastructure (web services, fulfillment for third parties), why would it have to change?”

    Amazon’s stock lost 10% yesterday—that’s one reason. I expect eBook prices to continue to rise, because Wall Street will want to see more real profits today.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Roger!

      Touché!🙂

      Your prediction was good…well done.

      Of course, I could argue that people were selling off the stock because Amazon raised the prices…the quarter in which the prices have been going up coincides with the quarter for which they reported results.😉 If that were true, Amazon might react by lowering prices again. However, this may be a temporary down…let’s see where they are in a week.

      • rogerknights Says:

        Wall Street’s reaction was apparently to an increase in operating loss, as you wrote in a more recent thread, “Amazon: Q1 2014 . . .”, rather than a disappointment at Amazon raising its eBook prices.
        That makes sense, because it’s unlikely that a reduction of loss-leader pricing would have an immediate negative effect on Amazon’s sales. In fact, sales were up YOY by 26%. (And presumably the latest quarter’s sales continued the rising trend of the previous three quarters.)
        I believe the price rise is due to the fact that an eBook loss-leader is no longer needed as much to attract customers. Amazon has by now achieved critical mass as “the everything store”–the first place to look–and as the default for its many (now) Prime customers. The selection, convenience, service, and pricing make those segments strong enough to stand on their own. There’s no more need for pump-priming. As you wrote in “Amazon: Q1 2014 . . .”:

        “I think we have to honestly say, though, that if you asked 100 people on the street to define Amazon.com, not very many of them would say “an online bookstore” any more.
        “It’s more about hardware (phone soon?), consumer products…and groceries.”

        Also, I suspect that book and eBook buyers are now only a minor percentage of Amazon’s customers, much lower than the percentage when the Kindle was introduced. This again would reduce the effectiveness of loss-leader pricing of eBooks.

      • rogerknights Says:

        “However, this may be a temporary down…let’s see where they are in a week.”

        It’s up only 2%, to 308. More importantly, AMZN is down 25% from its high of 405 in January. That decline, which I think will continue to some extent this year, is going to put pressure on the company to increase its current profit margins. Amazon doesn’t need to put further price-war pressure on JC Penney, Sears, Radio Shack, B&N, etc.–they’re circling the drain on their own already. Once they’re gone, there will be fewer competitors and Amazon will be able to raise prices further without fear of losing many sales.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Roger!

        Well, it will be interesting to see what happens. I’m not convinced (yet) that the loss of those competitors would let Amazon raise prices without too much impact. There will increasingly be alternatives to Amazon of other types: direct author to reader sales, for example. We shall see, though.🙂

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