Ebook MarketView: Who Won Amazon’s “Big Deal” Promotion?

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Dan Lubart, Iobyte SolutionsBy Dan Lubart, Principal, Iobyte Solutions, with Anne Kostick

[Ed.: Commenters have noted how hard it can be to get a handle on the current state of ebook sales from the shifting and volatile information available to us. Digital Book World is pleased to offer reports from Dan Lubart’s eBook MarketView, to help us see what stories the actual data has to tell. Using a proprietary market analysis tool, Dan pairs publicly available data from multiple ebook retailer bestseller lists with analysis and visual presentation to help publishers identify and understand emerging patterns.]

Amazon just wrapped up their second big eBook promotion of the year, this time including a number of titles from the agency publishers. Some of the results point toward a new set of rules for publishing success in the digital arena.

Here is a quick summary of what we saw before the weekend, starting with a look at the movement of the average daily price (unweighted) of the entire Kindle Bestseller list for the past three weeks:

The chart makes it clear that the promotion began on July 18. Notice that within three days, the average price of the top100 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:

Going into the promotion, the number of below-$3 titles had been gently declining from 30 to 25. That number 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 lies 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 learn. 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 is the principal at Iobyte Solutions, an IT strategy firm with a specialty in publishing and entertainment media. Iobyte’s eBook MarketView tool enables publishers, authors, agents and others to study the dynamics of the ebook retail marketplace in various ways. Dan blogs at eBook MarketView.

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