Monday, October 24, 2011

Kindle Daily Deal - Update 10/24

Just a quick update on the Kindle Daily Deal post we did two weeks ago...

This time, we are grabbing twelvel consecutive KDDs to see how well they perform after the promotion.  The table below shows each title, along with the number of days on the Kindle Bestseller List and the price it returned to after the promotion.  Note that in a few cases, the price was adjusted more than once by Amazon so we use the last one while the title was still a bestseller.
DateTitleDays on ListNormal Price
1-OctBreakfast of Champions53.99
2-OctMercury Falls92.99
3-OctThe Hangman's Daughter147.99
4-OctThe Justice Game48.69
5-OctWinter Sea67.39
6-OctToday We Are Rich49.20
7-OctCelia and the Fairies42.99
8-OctEye of the God59.99
10-OctBrown's Requiem69.99
11-OctSlim to None102.99
13-OctKitchen Confidential66.63

All of these titles were top-5 on the day of the KDD as we noted before.  Most were the #1 title on the list.  All were also reduced to either $0.99 or $1.99 for the day.  One thing we see is that there is little correlation between the subsequent price of the ebook and the length of time it stays on the bestseller list.  Even the two titles that were former bestsellers, "The Hangman's Daughter" and "Winter Sea" don't show any consistent pattern.

We did see a bit of spillover effect for one of the titles.  Jenny Gardiner (Slim to None) saw another of her titles (apparently self-published) reach rank 99 on 10/11 (same day 'Slim to None' was the KDD). 

Susanna Kearsley had a new title out (Rose Garden on 10/1) just a few days before Amazon put Winter Sea up for KDD and even though that title was selling well, it jumped from rank 43 to 19 on 10/5 which was very likely driven in large part by increased exposure through the other book.  That book, in turn, may have been responsible for why Winter Sea continued to sell so well after the promotion ended.

So in general, no real surprises this time.  We just see confirmation that this is one of the most effective promotions in the Amazon arsenal and shows the power to make nearly any title a hit for at least four days, often longer.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mystery & Thriller - Who Killed the Middle Price Tier?

Take a look at the top 20 titles in the Kindle Mystery & Thriller Bestseller List today.

1Brown's Requiem-9.990
2The Affair: A Reacher Novel (Jack Reacher)Ran12.990
3The Abbey-0.991
4Chasing Amanda-0.99-1
6A Killing Tide (Columbia River Thriller)-0.990
8Kill Me If You CanHach12.990
9The Black Ice (Harry Bosch)Hach1.990
10New York to Dallas (In Death)Pen12.990
11Borrowed Time-0.990
12Blind Pursuit-0.990
14January Kills Me (Samantha Rialto Mysteries)-0.992
15Second Son (Kindle Single)Ran1.99-1
16The LitigatorsRan14.991
17A Dozen Deadly Roses-0.991
18Last Breath-0.992
19Emerald Moon (The third Manny Williams Thriller)-3.493
20Heat Rises (Nikki Heat 3)-9.36-5

Q: With the exception of the top and bottom titles, what do they all have in common? 

A: None of the middle 18 books are between $4 and $12.  In fact, only one title on the list is between $3 and $9 and only two more are at $9.99.

We talked a while back about bifurcation of the ebook market.  There are people who buy cheap ebooks (under $3) and people who buy the books they want to read and are not very price-sensitive.  Apparently there are enough of the latter to make five premium titles (4 at $12.99 and 1 at $14.99) bestsellers. 

Note also that the top title "Brown's Requiem" was yesterday's Kindle Daily Deal which made it star for a day at $1.99 and it is still riding the high at $9.99 today.  It will be out of the top-twenty in a day or two.  The 21st book on the list?  $0.99.  That leaves only a single title in the middle price bands.

When you look at the entire top-100, you do see titles in the middle.  Here is yesterday's breakout:

Price BandQtyRating
$0.00 - $2.99454.22
$3.00 - $7.99124.28
$8.00 - $9.99153.79

There are as many books above $10 as there are between $3-$10 combined.  This isn't new.  It's been that way fairly consistently over the past six months. 

Likely the main explanation is that the top authors' books are usually agency titles and are released at $14.99 or $12.99.  By the time they are reduced to $9.99 they are already well down the list.  The 'cheaper' titles are either self-published authors or promotional pricing on older books.  Still, we find the phenomenon interesting.  Consumers apparently want what they want at nearly any price, or they want something cheap.  There is very little middle ground. 

So let's look at that lone book at $3.49 yesterday, Emerald Moon, which is the third book by the author, Rick Murcer, and represents his first foray above $2.99.  His first two books sold very well, both reaching top 10 on the Kindle Bestseller List at $.99 before being raised to $2.99.  This one is doing well also, but seems to have peaked at around 45 at this price.  It will be interesting to see what his next price change will be and how his sales rank reacts.

Dan Lubart can be reached at
You can follow him on Twitter at @ebook_mktview  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kindle Daily Deal Gets It Done

This will come as no surprise, but the Kindle Daily Deal can make bestsellers out of pretty much anything. Here's a quick look at the last six titles in the program, with the rank at midnight just after their 24-hour promotion ended:

10/1/11Breakfast of ChampionsRosettaBooksKurt Vonnegut10.99
10/2/11Mercury FallsAmazonEncoreRobert Kroese10.99
10/3/11The Hangman's DaughterAmazonCrossingOliver Pötzsch10.99
10/4/11The Justice GameTyndale House PublishersRandy Singer41.99
10/5/11Winter SeaSourcebooks LandmarkSusanna Kearsley31.99
10/6/11Today We Are RichTyndale House PublishersTim Sanders41.99

There are a mix of recent releases, old releases, former bestsellers and 'never-weres' on this short list. What they all have in common is they were top-five titles just after their promotion, which reduces the price to either $.99 or $1.99. Let's look at the before and after impact on a few of these titles:

Winter Sea

This book was a bestseller in June, falling off the list in early July. It was the Kindle Daily Deal on Tuesday, as a result of which it jumped back up to #3 and is still selling (rank 15 on mid-day Thursday) at the original price of $7.69. Note that ranking reflects the previous days' activity since they are captured shortly after midnight each day.




Mercury Falls

This is an Amazon book on sale for about a year with no recent evidence of being a bestseller until 10/1 when it was a KDD title. It has remained on the top of the Kindle bestseller list for 4 days since the promotion and is still ranked 33 on mid-day Thursday.


So the real value, as always, is in how well the books sell after they are off-promotion and back to their prior price, just due to the increased visibility they enjoy from their one-day bump.  So far, it looks like a strong winner.

Dan Lubart can be reached at
You can follow him on Twitter at @ebook_mktview  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The new look Kindle 'bestseller' is below $3

It's been a long hiatus.  Apologies, but we're back!  Here's a quick trend to get us kicked off.

The top of the Kindle Bestseller List is increasingly dominated by cheap titles (below $3).  Today marks the first time we see eight of the top ten in that price band.  In January, 2011 the most sub-$3 books in the top ten was three.

Since the top ten get increased exposure on the right side of the Amazon website, this is meaningful.

Dan Lubart can be reached at
You can follow him on Twitter at @ebook_mktview  

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Quick Look at Amazon’s July ‘Big Deal’ promotion

Amazon just wrapped up their second big eBook promotion of the year, this time including a number of titles from the agency publishers.  This is a quick summary before the weekend of what we saw.
First let’s take a look at the movement of the average daily price (unweighted) of the entire Kindle Bestseller list for the past three weeks:

It’s pretty clear when the promotion began and notice that within three days, the average price of the top-100 dropped from just above $9 to just above $6.  Taking a deeper look at how the quantities of books in our price bands changed shows us no real surprises:


The number of sub-$3 titles was gently declining from 30 to 25 going into the promotion and immediately jumped up to the 40s, peaking at 49 on July 25.  For one day, half of the list was priced below $3.  This increase came proportionately from books in the two higher price bands (above $8). 

So where is the ‘interesting’ data this time?  It has to do with WHICH publishers benefited from this promotion.  All six of the agency publishers presumably were invited to submit titles to this promotion.  Let’s look at the counts of titles under $4 on the list for each of the agency publishers:


It looks like HarperCollins was clearly the big winner, getting as many as nine titles into the top-100 under the promotional pricing compared to a maximum of two for any of the other publishers.  Looking at the chart for all titles (not just under $4) shows us that Harper was the only agency publisher to gain list share:

This is just one example of the ‘new rules of publishing’ that everyone needs to figure out pretty quickly.  'Share of list' is one of the new digital equivalents of premium retail space in the front of the store, and quickly becoming as or more important.   Since it’s not something publishers can directly pay for, they are faced with the challenge of understanding how to get it in other ways.  For this latest week, it looks like Harper won the set.

Dan Lubart can be reached at
You can follow him on Twitter at @ebook_mktview  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How Much Do eBooks Profit From Being on Bestseller Lists

One of the bits of ‘conventional wisdom’ around books is that making the bestseller list (any of the growing number of lists, really) is important for discoverability.  The natural question that arises from this is whether position on the list tends to be self-sustaining.  In other words, do books that make it onto the bestseller list gain real benefit from the additional exposure? Does that exposure help them increase sales and thus maintain their high ranking?

We found that there is a significant benefit to making these lists, and that benefit is far stronger for eBooks than it is for print, where titles rise and fall in sales rank far more frequently.  In fact, eBooks that rise high on the bestseller list can normally look forward to a far longer time on the list than an equivalent print book.

Let’s start with a basic assumption – some number of customers are looking at, and making purchase decisions off of, the bestseller lists.  This could include the Kindle Bestsellers, which show 20 at a time up to the top 100, or Nook Bestsellers, which can show from 10 to 100 at a time and go as deep as you care to go.  In the world of online search, the data strongly suggests that being on the first page of results is far better than being farther back.  So I set out to test the data in a few different ways:

  • Comparison between retailers
  • Comparison between formats (eBook vs. print)
  • Comparison between position on the list

Let’s start by looking at the “churn” on the Top 20 list for Kindle, Nook, and Print bestsellers on for the past 60 days.  I define “churn” as the number of titles that appear on each day that were not on the list the previous day.  To be clear, these titles may have been on the list previously, but there was at least one day since its last appearance. 

Chart 1 – Daily Churn – Top 20 for Kindle, Nook and B&N Print

Although it is hard to see, the average daily churn for Kindle and Nook are close, Kindle at 8.8% and Nook at 11.8%, while the B&N Print is much higher, at just over 24%. In other words, the turnover of titles on the Kindle and Nook bestseller lists are about comparable, and those lists are considerably less chaotic than the B&N Print bestseller list.

Expanding the scope to the top 100 titles, rather than the top 20, the differences between print and digital are even more noticeable.

Chart 2 – Daily Churn – Top-100 for Kindle, Nook and BN-Print

Now the similarity between Kindle and Nook is more obvious (8.1% vs. 8.6%), and the gap between eBooks and print is even wider (BN Print at 27.9%).  What we see is that there is substantially less churn on the eBook lists than on the print list and that the top-100 eBooks are about as stable as the top-20.  This also confirms that the ‘self-sustaining’ effect is far more prominent for eBooks than it is for print, indicating that eBook purchases are more influenced by bestseller lists than print. 

Lastly, we want to test if the churn is indeed lower on the bestseller list than it is deeper down.  In order to do this, we looked at the Nook list in five groups of 100 titles each.  What we found was a very strong basis for the assumption that bestseller lists support book sales.

Chart 3 – Average Daily Churn for Nook Bestsellers

Rank range      Average Daily Churn
1-100               8.6%
101-200           25.1%
201-300           35.3%
301-400           54.7%
401-500           66.7%

Now there is one factor that could be greatly affecting these numbers and that is that may be imposing any number of arbitrary rules that affect the repositioning of sales rank.  In fact, we previously noted here that there is one such rule that at least temporarily restricted the highest rank a book priced below $4 could achieve (no higher than rank 126).  Yet while these rules may be impacting the free repositioning of sales rank between titles, it actually doesn’t really matter since the titles in the top-100 are clearly tending to stay there as compared to titles lower down.

With support from the data, we can see that titles that make it to the bestseller list continue their bestselling habit.  What I would take away from this as an author, agent or publisher is that getting my eBooks into the top-100 on both Amazon and is highly beneficial – not just for the status but for the actual sustained impact on additional sales it may provide.

Dan Lubart can be reached at
You can follow him on Twitter at @ebook_mktview