Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Premium-price eBooks rebound from 'Sunshine' effect

About 10 days ago we spoke about Amazon's 'Sunshine Deals' program and the impact it had on the makeup of the Kindle Bestsellers list (top-100).  Now that the two weeks is just about up, we took another look and  see something interesting.

Books in the two highest price bands - essentially $8 and up - have rebounded nicely in the second week.  At the same time, the sub-$3 books promoted by the deal have retained their gains from the books in the next band, $3-$7.99.

First, let's look at the average daily price chart - revised to June 14...

There is no mistaking rise in the past few days that is almost a mirror image of the drop when the program first started.  The average price of the list is essentially all the way back to where it was on June 1.

Now let's revisit the price band data.  To review, this is how we define our price bands:

Band 1 - Super-discount: $0-$2.99
Band 2 - Discount: $3-$7.99
Band 3 - Value: $8-$9.99
Band 4 - Premium: $10+

Now here is the data, updated from June 1 to June 14, showing the numbers of titles in the Kindle Top-100 that fall into each of these price bands each day:

date               band1  band2  band3  band4
2011-06-01   31       18        15        35
2011-06-02   38       16        12        33
2011-06-03   43       14        11        31
2011-06-04   47       14        10        28
2011-06-05   44       16        10        29
2011-06-06   45       14        12        28
2011-06-07   46       14        10        29
2011-06-08   48       13        11        27
2011-06-09   49       11        12        26
2011-06-10   46       11        14        28
2011-06-11   44       11        13        31
2011-06-12   42       11        14        32
2011-06-13   41       11        14        33
2011-06-14   38       10        14        34

If you don't like tables of numbers, let me point out the highlights.
Premium books ($10+) started at 35, dropped to a low of 26 and rose back to 34.  Value books ($8-$9.99) followed a similar trend, going from 15, down to 10, back to 14.  Note the discount band ($3-$7.99) however, which has steadily declined the entire two weeks, from 18 down to 10. 

So what we appear to be seeing is that the higher-price eBooks - typically the equivalent of new releases and trade paperback from known authors - have rebounded from the initial impact after about a week and regained their prior share of the Bestsellers list.  Discount eBooks - more the equivalent of mass market paperbacks - have not recoverd and continue to be supplanted by Sunshine Deals - many if not most of which were probably in that $3-$7.99 price band before the promotion.

I think that we've seen Amazon flex its marketing muscles in a new way (although they have done this in the MP3 space since they began so it's just new to eBooks) and the market reacted very strongly.  They have the power to move the market, or at least a segment of it, for at least a limited period of time.   Yet the segment buying high-price eBooks, despite lots of outcry against such pricing, has proved resilient and returned to these books after dipping their toes into the less expensive end of the market. 

Certainly we are going to see more of this type of prmotion/experimentation from Amazon.  Maybe we will start to see it from the agency publishers as well.  I would love to get the discussion on this going and see what others think of these results so please do chime in.


  1. Based on the chart it would seem that Agency publishers have little incentive (if they ever did) to lower prices.
    Good to see that the lower price Band 1 moved back in position as well.

  2. Well they do have incentive to do it tactically. For example, when a book starts to slide out of the bestseller lists (top-100 on Kindle or Nook for example) it may be optimal to lower the price - along with some promotion - to prop it back up again. But in general, lowering the price of front-list books? Not that I see yet.

    But the market is morphing quickly so whatever patterns we see today may not be relevent in six months.

  3. Interesting and important information. It is really beneficial for us. Thanks