Amazon’s weird (but fun) holiday stats 2015

 Amazon’s weird (but fun) holiday stats 2015

This is one of the things I look excitedly anticipate at the holidays!

It’s a tradition (well, at least what we call a “tradition” in the digital era) 😉 that, Amazon, famously close to the vest on sales figures, breaks with that at the end of December…sort of. 🙂 They do a

press release

where they do give us some pretty clear figures (“…more than three million new members worldwide joined Prime during the third week of December alone.”) and then give us other stats that are striking and funny, but not specifically numerical.

That’s fine with me. 😉 I like their real world analogues.

For example:

  • The total number of hours customers spent reading The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir in 2015 on Kindle is equivalent to more than 1,000 trips to Mars on the Curiosity rover
  • The books read by kids in Amazon FreeTime this holiday season would reach Mt. Everest’s peak more than 10 times if put in a straight line in their physical form

I think you’ll be amused if you check some of the non-book related ones.

Now, let’s parse a bit more what they told us:

  • Prime did well! That’s important to Amazon’s overall success, which affects readers. I’ve said before that Amazon’s most important product is happy and satisfied customers, and Prime members tend to be that
  • The All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) was one of the three most ordered items with Prime FREE one-day shipping. I wrote recently about how it sold much better than the Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)…and the latter is not mentioned in the press release
  • Amazon device sale were “…up 2x over last year’s record-setting holiday”. Does that mean twice as many? It seems like a bit of an odd way to say it. I could also see it meaning that if three were sold last year, nine were sold this year (up two times 3 then plus 3 then plus 3 again). Regardless, good year. 🙂 It’s also evident that EBRs (E-Book Readers) and even tablets weren’t Amazon’s dominant selling devices. The Fire TV family appears to have excelled
  • The most gifted Kindle book “during the holiday season” was Rath’s Deception (The Janus Group Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*) by Piers Platt.  That’s fascinating to me! I would have expected (and I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager) for it to be a traditionally published brand name author, and a somewhat expensive book. Instead, this is a $2.99 book which appears to be independently published. Not only that, it’s available through Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), meaning that members of Amazon’s subser (subscription service) can read it at no additional cost. My guess is that there is an interesting story behind the marketing of this book…maybe I’ll try to find out what that is. If anyone knows Piers Platt, feel free to let the author know I’m interested in what marketing strategy was used, and that I’d like to share the success story with my readers. I also plan to read the book myself, now…it also has good reviews
  • The book most borrowed through KU in all of 2016 was No Ordinary Billionaire (The Sinclairs Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*) by J.S. Scott. Importantly, while this is a traditionally published book, it was published by Amazon. In my recent The Year in E-Books 2015, I noted that this year was much more about Amazon becoming less dependent on the tradpubs (traditional publishers)…and based on this and the previous point, that seems to be working

Love this annual press release!

By the way, for contrast, this

Seeking Alpha post by Clark Schulz reports that Barnes & Noble’s stock is down by more than 5% “Post-Christmas”.

One more thing while we are on the holidays.

I got two Kindle books as gifts…and have finished one of them already. 🙂 I read every day, but it’s been a while since I started and finished a book in just a couple of days.

The one I finished was

21st Century Dodos: A Collection of Endangered Objects (and Other Stuff) (at AmazonSmile*) by Steve Stack

It was ninety-nine cents, on my Amazon Wish List…and I loved getting it! I think some people hesitate on an inexpensive gift like that, or think that it’s better to get something not a Wish List. I like gifts which surprise me, too, but this was a terrific little gift.

It’s about things which are “going extinct”…not species, but lifestyle-type things. That is something in which I’m especially interested…I may write something on it myself at some point (I’ve had a name for my possible work for years).

Something that I hadn’t realized, though, was that the book was British…very, very British. 😉 That’s fine with me (I read a lot of British writing), but it did mean that we didn’t share the same cultural  experiences. For example, the nostalgic candies in the book were things I never had. Some Americans might also be confused by some terms which appear many times: “came a cropper” and “punter”.

“Come a cropper” (or the past tense above) basically means to fail at something. Let’s see…Americans might say it “went belly up”.

Oh, here’s a good write up on it:

The Phrase Finder entry

“Punter” is used in a way that I would say is derogatory…and I would have read it as something like “slacker”. All of the “punters” in the articles are losers in the situation, I’d say. With a quick bit of research, it has to do with making a risky bet…or being the customer of a prostitute. I suppose there is some similarity in meaning there…

The fact that they are used repetitively is perhaps due to the articles coming from a blog. I use the same phrases much more often on this blog than I would if I was sitting down and writing a 200 page book. Part of that is that if you read a book and the same phrase appears twenty times, you might be seeing in multiple times in an hour. If I use a phrase twenty times over the course of 200 posts on the blog, you might encounter a duplicate every ten days or so.

Duplication can also build familiarity. Many of us fans of Doc Savage are happily to repeatedly see Doc’s eyes described as “stirred pools of flake gold”.

The other book I got was

Cryptozoologicon: Volume I (at AmazonSmile*) by by Darren Naish (Author), John Conway (Illustrator), C.M. Kosemen (Illustrator)

This one was also from my Wish List, also appreciated! Not far enough into it yet to have much of an opinion…

What do you think? Do you like getting books from a wish list? Are you reluctant to give something specific like that…or do you, perhaps, look for something  similar but not the same? Is Amazon becoming less dependent on tradpubs…and will the time ever come when they really don’t need them? What can the publishers due to counteract that…and perhaps become less dependent on Amazon? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things. 

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.


6 Responses to “Amazon’s weird (but fun) holiday stats 2015”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I was a big fan of the British nighttime soap, Eastenders until my PBS station and BBC America quit broadcasting it. The patrons of The Queen Vic, the local pub, were referred to as punters.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      What would you say was the implication of being labeled a “punter”?

      My sense of it at one point was that it was the equivalent of “slacker”…somebody who wasn’t very ambitious, someone who wasn’t at all “corporatized”. I had (I think incorrectly) associated it with the type of boat called a “punt”…slow motion in shallow waters. 🙂

      Any defining characteristics or excluded characteristics of a “punter” that you know or gleaned?

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        In the context of Eastenders, punters seemed to be used in same as the way we’d use “regulars,” though the Queen Vic did contain a few “fruit machines,” which could add a gambling aspect. FYI, fruit machine is Eastender slang for slot machines. And of course, the various proprietors of the Vic were somewhat shady characters.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        “Regulars” might apply to some of the references in 21st Century Dodos..

  2. TG Says:

    My question is: with so many new prime members in the 3rd week of December, how many of them are trial members (I’m guessing most), and what percentage of them will convert go paid prime members. “Lots of people started a free 1-month trial to avoid shipping costs for the week of christmas” isn’t exactly a big accomplishment for amazon, if the majority of those customers don’t become paid prime members.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, TG!

      You’re right, I would guess that many of the Prime members were trial members…and perhaps even unconscious ones, who got it because it came with a device.

      However, that’s still an accomplishment for Amazon, and a separate question.

      If people joined Prime for free, and ended it after a month, but remained Amazon customers…it’s somewhat expensive advertising, depending on how much they used and for what, but it’s not a huge financial hit. The next holiday season, they won’t be able to get a free month again, most likely, unless perhaps it comes with a device.

      Also, they are two different questions. Let’s say 100 people only try Prime and all 100 stay with it…100% conversion rate. That’s not as good for Amazon as if a ten thousand people try it and 100 stay with it…one percent conversion rate.

      My guess is that Prime is pretty “sticky”…I think I have seen statements to that effect, but it makes sense to me. Certainly, some people will get a free trial just to take advantage of it and stop it, but I would guess that’s the minority. It’s like returning e-books within seven days of purchase for a refund: some people probably abuse that to read for free (until, eventually, Amazon might even drop them as customers, but that’s got to be very rare).

      Many people will simply forget to stop it.

      Others will decide to keep it, because of music or video or one of the other free benefits.

      It doesn’t need to be the majority who stay with it to make it worthwhile, in my opinion…

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