Comparing the bestsellers: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Comparing the bestsellers: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

There was a time when the bestsellers at Amazon for the Kindle and at Barnes & Noble for the NOOK were pretty similar.

There were some few exclusives which made a difference, but the lists were pretty much the same.

No more.

Amazon clearly impacts its own bestseller list. That may be by publishing their books themselves, or putting them on sale, or making them part of the Kindle First program (which are books both published by them and “on sale”…they are actually free for Prime members ((one book a month)) and yet to be published.

No question: if you are with Barnes & Noble and not with Amazon, you are missing out on some very popular books.

Let’s take a look:

Kindle Rank Title Kindle $ NOOK Rank NOOK $ Diff
1 My Sister’s Grave 4.99 N/A
2 Gone Girl 4.99 1 8.99 4
3 Gray Mountain 11.99 13 14.99 3
4 The Fire Seekers 4.99 N/A
5 The Glassblower 4.99 N/A
6 Leaving Time 4.99 2 12.59 7.6
7 Stepbrother Dearest 3.99 41 3.99 0
8 I Love How You Love Me 4.99 26 4.99 0
9 Sleep Tight 1.99 N/A
10 Ruin Part Two 0.99 345 0.99 0
11 The Best of Me 4.99 7 4.99 0
12 Medicine Men 0.99 N/A
13 The Cycle of Arawn 0.99 6 0.99 0
14 Burn 4.99 13 12.99 8
15 Ruin 0.99 1386 0.99 0
16 The Heroes of Olympus Books Five 9.99 14 10.99 1
17 Yellow Crocus 3.99 N/A
18 Down and Out 3.99 75 3.99 0
19 Captivated by You 7.99 14 7.99 0
20 Blood Magick 6.99 57 8.99 2
Total 25.6

While there have been some excellent NOOK devices, and they have led in some innovations (notably lending and frontlighting), there is no question that if you backed Barnes & Noble against Amazon (and we’ll just treat it as a two horse race now), your money was in the wrong place (as a reader).

You can’t even get six of the top twenty Amazon sellers, and if you did buy all the ones you could, you would pay $25.60 more. On average, that’s $1.60 a book more, but you could pay as much as $8 more.

Well, I’m glad I looked at that!

Originally, when Amazon started  aggressively  pursuing exclusives, I did think it was Amazon versus B&N. Now, I tend to think of it as Amazon versus the traditional publishers…and interesting mind focus, I’d say.

I know some of you have both NOOKs and Kindles (and Kobos, and some others).

Update: one of my regular readers and commenters, Edward Boyhan, asked me what it would look like if I did the comparison the other way…with the NOOK Books top 20. I originally intended to do that last night, but the frailties of the flesh overwhelmed the intent of the will (in other words, I was too tired). 😉 I did eyeball it first, and I didn’t see a book on the B&N list that I didn’t think Amazon would have…and that was right (for the top 20). I created the table this morning:

NOOK Rank Title NOOK $ Kindle Rank Kindle $ Diff
1 Leaving Time $2.99 6 4.99 $2.00
2 Cut to the Bone $1.99 37 1.99 $0.00
3 Gone Girl $8.99 3 4.99 -$4.00
4 Day After Night $10.93 4191 9.32 -$1.61
5 Captivated by You $7.99 20 7.99 $0.00
6 The Best of Me $7.99 11 4.99 -$3.00
7 Holland Springs Box Set $0.99 74 0.99 $0.00
8 The Highlander’s Bride $0.99 102 0.99 $0.00
9 Desired: Club Sin $0.99 85 $0.99 $0.00
10 Deadline $11.99 24 10.99 -$1.00
11 Be For Me $0.99 153 0.99 $0.00
12 Someone Else’s Love Story $1.99 193 0.99 -$1.00
13 The Blood of Olympus $10.99 15 9.99 -$1.00
14 Burn $12.99 17 4.99 -$8.00
15 The Cinderella Murder $10.99 609 10.99 $0.00
16 The Circle of Ceridwen $0.99 308 0.99 $0.00
17 The Geneva Trap $7.51 23,400 6.15 -$1.36
18 Gray Mountain $14.99 2 11.99 -$3.00
19 The Pearl that Broke Its Shell $1.99 146 1.99 $0.00
20 Killing Patton $11.04 32 11.04 $0.00
Total -$21.97

Every top twenty NOOK book could be bought at Amazon as well. The price differentials were still overwhelmingly in favor of Kindleers (over NOOKers).

The number one NOOK book is cheaper at B&N than it is at Amazon…but that typically doesn’t last, since people can alert Amazon on the book’s product page about the differential, and they tend to match the prices.

Glancing at it (and I have a pretty good eye at doing that way), it appears to me that when the prices are the same, generally, that book is ranked relatively lower at Amazon. That isn’t always the case, but my intuition is that a book which $0.99 at both Amazon and B&N is pushed lower at Amazon by the presence of the Kindle exclusives.

I would also guess that the number of people who decide whether to buy a e-book at Amazon or B&N based on the price is pretty low. If they have the respective companies’ EBRs (E-Book Readers), they don’t really have that choice. However, they could have both companies’ apps on a tablet, for example, and then they could choose.

What do you think? This holiday season, will people choose to buy NOOKs as their very first EBRs (E-Book Reader), or is it mostly coasting on customers it already? Are Amazon’s exclusives something that has driven you to become more of an Amazon user? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* 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.


9 Responses to “Comparing the bestsellers: Amazon and Barnes & Noble”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    What would the table look like, if you listed the 1-20 Nook best sellers? Would there be titles on that list not available on Amazon? Would the cost differentials be the same in favor of Amazon?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      A perfectly reasonable question, and one which I started out intending to answer in the article last night…but it was simply too late (or more accurately, I was too sleepy) to get it done formally. 🙂 I eyeballed it at the time, though. My look at it showed me big names on the B&N list, ones which would not be B&N exclusives.

      Thanks to you asking the question, I’ll go ahead and run it this morning and add it to the post.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Update: okay, I’ve created that table.

        As I suspected, you can buy any of the top 20 NOOK books in the Kindle store, and you’d save about $20 if you bought them all at Amazon.

  2. hsextant Says:

    Ironically it was the introduction of the Nook that led me to buy a Kindle. The Kindle 1, I blew off as too new, too questionable, and not enough books that I read…for the most part I was not into bestsellers. I never jump into new tech–if I jump at all. By the time the second gen Kindle came out, I was no longer paying attention. A friend at work got excited over the introduction of the Nook in the fall of 2009. Nook suffered from a variety of shipped too soon ills, B&N didn’t have the selection or the prices of the Kindles, the Nook was a bit more kludgy for searching and dictionary use, B&N business situation was questionable, and the first Nook did not have internet access. I could buy a Kindle now or wait 6 weeks for a Nook that may or may not work.

    I got bit with the Kindle and have never looked back. I understand in general terms that the Nooks are often technically superior to the Kindle, but for the most part Kindles do what I want them to do (no audible on the new models being a glaring exception). No regrets on my part, and I rarely look at B&N.

    • Tom Semple Says:

      Actually the first Nook came in two models: wifi only, and wifi+3G. At the time, there was no Kindle with wifi, and it took another 9 months before Amazon offered one.

      It also had apps like Chess and Sudoku. Again, Kindle’s ‘Active Content’ was to follow some months later.

      I think Google Play Books is much better about price-matching Kindle Store.

      • hsextant Says:

        The first Nook also had a user replaceable battery, an external memory card slot, and a color sub-screen. None of which particularly (other than the battery) swayed my opinion. I did note, that Nooks were often technically superior to Kindles. For me at the time, the Internet access and B&N’s financial condition were determining factors.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, hsextant!

        The first Kindle also had a user replaceable battery and an external memory capability…both of those were removed by the second gen. Would I have felt different if my first EBR (E-Book Reader) had been a NOOK? Perhaps somewhat, but the Customer Service at Amazon has been far superior for me than that at B&N (when we are talking about online service).

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        Quite right. There were games on the Kindle from the beginning, but only very simple ones. B&N has had games and other non-books as part of the mix for some time, so it made sense that they included that.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, hsextant!

      I didn’t think I’d like a Kindle initially, but my first one was a gift…and by the time I’d finished my first book on it, I could see that it was really about the books, not the gadgetry.

      I’d say that the NOOK was initially ahead of the contemporary Kindle in terms of technology…but the NOOK did have some real problems.

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