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Analysis of Amazon E-book Fiction Bestsellers (Week #1)

... trying to make sense of the amazon bestsellers and pricing for e-books...
ach hour Amazon updates its bestsellers lists. I have taken a daily snapshot of the top 20 bestsellers in the e-book fiction list for the past week. See here.
What can be learnt from these data?
1. 4 out 5 of the bestsellers are from print or traditional authors. Most are brand-named authors who dominate the print bestsellers.
2. Almost all of the authors have multiple titles to their credit. The author of The Help is a notable exception.
3. The e-book prices of indie authors are substantially lower than print authors. For the most part, their titles are priced at $0.99.
4. The books on the list fall into four categories: (i) pre-release from brand-named authors, (ii) new or recently released titles (iii) long-term bestsellers (greater than one year), (iv) backlist titles. Indie authors fall into (ii) and (iv).
5. The indie authors includes authors who previously had publishing deals with print publishers, but who are now releasing their backlist titles and new titles as e-books.
6. Pre-releases titles have the highest average price followed by new releases and the long-term bestsellers—the later being priced to reflect an inelastic demand. Backlist titles and indie authors have the lowest.
7. Print publishers are releasing e-books at the same time as the hardcover. The paperback versions are scheduled for release some 6 to 8 months later. The e-books are priced at about the same price as the paperback list price or the discounted HC price.
8. The price of e-books for backlist titles tends to be substantially lower than new release pricing.
9. For books with print versions, the average e-book price is 53% of the list price of the print version.
10. Several new releases entered the top-20 and fell out within a few days.
11. Factors affecting the purchasing decision: (i) affinity with a known author (e.g. people were hot to read the latest title from Lee Child or Nicholas Sparks), (ii) pricing, and (iii) perceived quality of the text.

The List of Fiction E-book Bestsellers

1 BoneMan's Daughters Ted Dekker
2 Bonnie Iris Johansen
3 Bring Me Home for Christmas (Virgin River Novels) Robyn Carr
4 Can You Keep a Secret? Sophie Kinsella
5 Carry Yourself Back to Me Deborah Reed
6 Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) Suzanne Collins
7 Chasing Amanda Melissa Foster
8 Crossing Oceans Gina Holmes
9 Deeply Devoted (The Blue Willow Brides) Maggie Brendan
10 Destined (House of Night Novels) P. C. Cast, Kristin Cast
11 Don't Say A Word Barbara Freethy
12 Fun and Games Duane Swierczynski
13 Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune Rick Riordan
14 Just Run Chris Culver
15 Last Breath Michael Prescott
16 Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) Suzanne Collins
17 Only Us: A Fool's Gold Holiday Susan Mallery
18 Robert Ludlum's (TM) The Bourne Betrayal Eric Van Lustbader
19 Shock Wave John Sandford
20 The Abbey Chris Culver
21 The Affair: A Reacher Novel (Jack Reacher Novels) Lee Child
22 The Best of Me Nicholas Sparks
23 The End of Normal Stephanie Madoff Mack
24 The Help Kathryn Stockett
25 The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins
26 The Intruders: A Jake Grafton Novel Stephen Coonts
27 The Litigators John Grisham
28 The Mill River Recluse Darcie Chan
29 The Next Always: Book One of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy Nora Roberts
30 The Phoenix Apostles (A Seneca Hunt Mystery) Lynn Sholes, Joe Moore
31 Treading Water (Treading Water Trilogy) Marie Force
32 Unfinished Business Nora Roberts
33 WIRED Douglas E. Richards
34 Zero Day David Baldacci

Posted 2011/10/30 at 01h47ET in Amazon, Bestsellers, E-books, Publishing.


  1. Traditional authors have an advantage over Indie due to name recognition/branding which is also reflected in pricing. Readers seem unwilling to risk too much money on an unknown (Indie) author. The good news is that Amazon's Kindle/eBook system allows Indie authors to make a decent profit (often more than going with a traditional publisher). The only roadblock to success is building an audience/driving sales...

  2. Interesting data, James! Thank you for taking the time to put this together and sharing it.

    Like Carrie, I believe building an audience is key. That can take some time, but once the momentum starts, everything seems to come fast. I have to remind myself not to slack off, to continue to produce new, quality titles (you made mention that almost all of the authors at the top of the list had multiple titles available) and to engage even more in social media.

    It's exhausting, but what else would I be doing with my life, if not writing? ;)


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