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 dan@iobyte.com.
You can follow him on Twitter at @ebook_mktview  


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