“Where is your old release section?”
For many decades, there has been a basic assumption in retail: “new” matters.
It’s been considered one of the most powerful words you can pick in an ad…or on a package. You’ll see it underlined, in bigger font, with an exclamation point.
When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, no question: we promoted new titles.
We put them in the window.
We had “wishing wells” (those carefully arranged essentially circular stacks of one titles with a hole in the middle) of new titles.
Publishers set higher suggested retail prices (“list prices”) for new titles, and even with discounting, you would expect to pay more for a new Stephen King than for one that was ten years old.
I’ve seen people really upset when a thirty year old book was set at, say, $9.99 as an e-book on Amazon.
Certainly, there were some reasonable factors involved.
One was the desire to read something you hadn’t read before. You might have read every Stephen King book published so far…that gives you a higher desire for a new book, and more demand can equal higher prices.
Another one was wanting to avoid spoilers. People were in line at midnight to read the new Harry Potter (or a century earlier, they wanted to be the first to get the new Oz book) in part so they could read it before they heard about some essential plot point.
All of this has meant that a list like the New York Times bestseller list would reliably almost always be comprised of new titles.
What I’ve noticed, though, is that may not still be the case…at least for e-books, and especially for one way of getting them.
As a hypothesis, that make some sense to me.
The USA Kindle store averages more than a 1,000 books added a day. You can’t possibly have read everything out there…so you aren’t caught up. You can no longer read all of the new books in a topic you like…almost regardless of topic.
Similarly, for spoilers, they are just less likely to happen…with this many books available, the plot points of any given novel are less likely to be discussed.
The rise of the indie (independently published) book is yet another point. Tradpubs (traditionally published) books are a tiny minority of the books being published today, but they still dominate the p-books (paperbooks). The paperbook sales are what people see on bestseller lists (at least that’s what most people notice)…and those tend to be the new releases from the tradpubs, just as they have been for a very long time
How important is newness for the USA Kindle bookstore bestsellers? How does it compare to p-book bestsellers in the USA Amazon store?
The place where it really stood out to me (prior to analysis) was in
I was looking for a KU book for my Significant Other in a hurry, so I went to the KU storefront…and noticed that the top books were older.
As is my tendency, I didn’t want to just go with my “feel” for it…I decided to do an analysis to see how “newness” might vary between the USA Kindle store, p-books at Amazon.com, and KU.
Before I actually do this analysis for you, I’m sure one factor might mess it up…the dominance of
on the bestseller list.
I’ve asked Amazon if the free books in Kindle First available to Prime members affects their bestseller rankings…I haven’t gotten an answer yet, so I think I may run it with and without them.
Okay, let’s take a look.
I’m only going to look at paid bestsellers, not free ones.
I think I’ll go with the publication date given on the Amazon product page. That will not correlate to the original publication date, but I think makes some sense. When an older book is first published in Kindle format, I think it’s often treated by readers as though it was a new book…even if it was first published in paper half a century or more ago.
USA Kindle store
USA Kindle store without pre-publication (Kindle First)
Most popular in Kindle Unlimited (they don’t give ranking numbers, but this is the order they displayed)
Overall Amazon.com books (may include Kindle format sales)
New York Times fiction hardback bestsellers
|NYT Ranking||Months old|
I knew there would be some older books on the New York Times bestseller list, because books can stay on that list for some time.
KU books were somewhat older, but not as much as I had anticipated. I suspect that what I saw before was “featured” titles (which featured Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings) rather than “most popular”.
The overall Amazon bestsellers were older than I would have guessed…there were a couple of particularly older ones which pushed those back…and they weren’t popular fiction or non-fiction. I hadn’t counted on that.
I do think backlist (older books), indies, and even public domain will tend to claim more of the market over the next ten years or so, and that subsers (subscription services) may also influence that.
What do you think? What’s your intuitive sense of your own reading? Do you place a higher or lower premium on buying a book to read, or is it about the same? Have you found yourself reading more indies and public domain? This may also have an impact: are you now more likely to buy a book and then read it later (perhaps much later) than when you bought primarily p-books? I do think that has been true for me…I might buy a book on sale (although I tend now to go with KU and books given to me as gifts), and then it would be in the TBR (To Be Read) “pile” for some time. Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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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.