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Analysis of Amazon E-book Bestsellers (Week #2)

... trying to make sense of the amazon bestsellers and pricing for e-books...
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Each 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 and analyzed the results. Click here for the current listing.
What can be learnt from these data?
1. 4 out of 5 of the titles are from traditional or brand-named authors. The trend continues. Further, comments I wrote last week about the list apply this week.
2. The prices for books by traditional authors is substantially higher than those of indie authors. See chart below for comparisons.
3. A core group of titles appear on the list each day. Certain titles shoot up into the list for a day or two then fall back down. More below.
4. While pre-release titles appear on the list, the sales for these titles do substantially better after the release date. (e.g., Zero Day by Baldacci). It appears that some people will pay now for a title that won’t be delivered for a few weeks, but most wait until the book is released. There may be a slight advantage in buying a pre-release title for the hardcover version, but for an e-book, where there’s no delay in delivery, where is the advantage?
5. The novel, Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley, first published in 1958, normally sells for $5.79. When the price was reduced, for a day or so, to $1.99, it shot up to the top of the list. It’s not clear if the publisher or Amazon created the price reduction or if either promoted the price reduction with emails or online ads to generate awareness and hence the sales. The same can be said for Robert Ludlum's (TM) The Bourne Betrayal by Eric Van Lustbader, first published in 2007 (List $9.99) and Pearl of China: A Novel by Anchee Min (List $8.99). Note: all three are traditional authors.
6. Two Halloween-related titles also shot up the list with price reductions. The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn ($8.99 to 1.99) and Zombie, Ohio: A Tale of the Undead by Scott Kenemore ($9.99 to 1.99).
7. While it is not conclusive, it appears the reduction in the list price of these five titles had a substantial impact on their sales. A short-term price reduction (“on sale now”) needs to be accompanied with promotion otherwise few will be aware of the opportunity.
8. Chris Culver is an indie author with two e-book only titles listed on Amazon. Both titles have been on the bestseller list for many weeks. The Abbey has a list price of $0.99 and been out since April, 2011. Just Run has a list price of $3.99 and was released in October 2011. The current Amazon price is $2.99; previously it sold for $0.99. When the price increased to $2.99, it’s sales rankings fell from 14 to 20. It’s safe to conclude the price increase resulted in reduced unit sales. It’s not clear if the reduction resulted in reduced total revenue (price times sales) or in reduced royalties to the author.
9. Amazon publishes a list of all e-book bestsellers. During the last week, the top-20 list was primarily composed of 18 fiction titles and 2 non-fiction (at most 4 NF titles). In the print world, non-fiction titles outsell fiction. Will we see this reflected in e-book titles?
10. Of the fiction titles, the mystery and thrillers subcategory dominates the overall fiction list. While romance is a big category seller, it isn’t reflected in the top-20 list in the same way for at least one reason: there are far more romance titles to choose from.
10. John Grisham is the king of bestsellers. Should that be a surprise? I don’t think so.

Posted 2011/11/06 at 10h34ET in Amazon, Bestsellers, E-books, Publishing.

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