Top Kindle bestsellers have all been on sale recently
Well, perhaps more accurately, discounts matter.
That hasn’t always been the conception of selling books. I remember a story years ago that when Robert Half brought up the idea of selling books at a discount (Half later founded the discount chain Crown Books), a professor said that it would never work…because book buyers see them as a prestige item and don’t care about discounts.
It can be true that lowering a price can hurt sales. I was a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, but I also managed a game store.
We had chess sets from about $10 to about $500. Ten dollar chess sets sold better for $9.99…but a $500 chess set would have sold worse at $499.99.
If you are spending $500 for a chess set, you want the best, you want a work of art…you don’t want to buy a “bargain” item.
Clearly, at Amazon, that idea of books being a prestige item isn’t true for the most popular Kindle books.
It’s worth noting that this is exactly the concern that the tradpubs (traditional publishers) had when Amazon introduced the Kindle and priced many popular books (not all books) at $9.99 or less. They were worried that there would be “price value perception devaluation”…if an e-book is $9.99, is it justified to put a list price (the publisher’s recommended price) of $25 on the same book in hardback? Sure, they have some different benefits, but that’s going to look strange to casual book buyers, who buy most of the books.
When I took a look at the
this morning, I expected to see a lot of indies (independently published) books at the top, along with traditionally published books by Amazon and other publishers which are not part of the Big 5.
As I looked at it, something stood out to me: it looked to me like all of the books were “bargains” in the past couple of days.
The top four books are
books. Those are published by Amazon, and are Prime members can get one for free each month.
I don’t think those free “sales” count as sales in the bestseller list…and I wouldn’t expect people doing the free downloads to wait until the last day of the month! I do think that the books being featured and getting the number of reviews they get probably do influence the sales. They also normally sell for $4.99, so they are fairly inexpensive.
The next one, though, The Shack, normally sells for $9.99. I used a great Google Chrome extension from eReaderIQ
to confirm what I remembered: it had just been on sale for $2.99 as part of a sale to which I alerted my readers of “Red Carpet Reads”, books tied into movies.
The next one was George Orwell’s 1984. As I wrote recently
members can read it at no additional cost. I think those borrows probably do count for sales, since the publisher is compensated for them, but I don’t know that for sure. It was last on a significant sale back in December, but I think the free borrows have helped it. Of course, it has also been selling very well in physical book form, which isn’t affected by that…but we can reasonably include it in e-books that you can get below the list price.
Book #7, Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale, is also a KU title.
#8? Another Kindle First title.
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood dropped from $12.99 to $2.99 on February 1st and has stayed there…so it is on sale. That’s #9.
#10 is Cole by Tijan, who is a New York Times bestselling author of romances (according to the product page). It just came out two days ago at $2.99. That’s in line with many other Tijan books, so we can’t say this one is on sale or an introductory low price. It appears to be a Kindle indie. I won’t classify this one as on sale, but compared to many tradpubbed books, it is a bargain.
I had to go down more than 25 books to find a book which wasn’t under $5, in KU, or that had been on sale recently. That one was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty…which is a current high-profile HBO series with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, and Zoë Kravitz.
The trend seems obvious, based on this data.
What do you think? Has customers’ perception of books changed? Is buying them as bargains now acceptable…even preferred? Does that mean the publishers were right…if e-books had been introduced at the same price as p-books, and if Amazon hadn’t started their independent publishing platforms, would the bestsellers at the Kindle store parallel the bestsellers at Amazon in p-books? 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.