Insights on High-Priced Best-Sellers, Romance Ebooks and Sandy’s Wrath

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

For the second week, we must beg forgiveness for not having our Ebook Best-Seller List.  Hurricane Sandy, which caused so much damage, destruction and heartache, also left a large part of the neighborhood where we house our servers without power for 11 days — my neighborhood to be precise. (And, you should know that in addition to the ebook best-seller list not having power, my family and I didn’t have power either.)

Now we do have a small generator specifically for the purpose of providing emergency power in the event of a blackout, and we have actually never had cause to use it until this past storm. Unfortunately, the severity and timing of this storm left us with incomplete data for the second week in a row.

While we were able to bring the servers up a few times during the outage, the demands of a furnace and air handlers on the generator not really designed to handle such a load left us very concerned possible damage to the servers, even with a UPS in place.

So we have four days of full, reliable data for this past week, and while we could prepare a reasonable list from this data, it would not be consistent with the standards we put in place when we started so we are opting to postpone one more week. For example, since we are missing two days after Election Day, a book like Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise (Penguin) would not get as high a ranking as it would deserve, and I am a strong believer that data is either reliable, or it’s not. I won’t cut corners, so no list once again this week.

Like so many others, we have learned from this experience and are taking steps to make the environment much more resilient so this is never repeated. In lieu of the lists, I will provide a few facts and insights this week, and we will be back with the full lists next week.

$14.99 is not a problem for top-selling authors

Three books in the top of the lists at that price are:
— Clive Cussler’s Poseiden’s Arrow (Penguin) which went on sale on 11/6/12 and as of today, was No. 27 on Kindle and No. 11 on Nook.
— David Baldacci’s The Forgotten (Hachette) which is currently in pre-orders (on sale 11/20/12) and is ranked No. 14 on Kindle and No. 100 on Nook.
— James Patterson’s Merry Christmas, Alex Cross (Hachette) which is also still in pre-orders (on sale 11/12/12) and is ranked No. 39 on Kindle and No. 4 on Nook.

$12.99 works too and can have very long ‘legs’

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (Random House) released on 6/5/12 at rank No. 7 on Kindle.  After hitting No. 1 as late as September, it is currently at rank No. 6, over five months later.  On Nook it has just touched as low as No. 2 after also spending most of this time in the top 10. It is our No. 1 overall best-seller of the past several months.

Price Bands show that high-priced books are still strong

— On 8/14/12, the Kindle Bestseller list had 26 titles below $3 and 27 titles above $10
— 90 days later, on 11/11/12, there were 29 titles below $3 and 32 above $10.  In fact, the only price band that had fewer titles on the list was $8.00-$9.99, which dropped from 24 titles on the list to 14.
— In the past 6 months, there has been only one day with less than 20 titles above $10 on the Kindle Bestseller list, with many days having more than 30.

Kindle Romance bestsellers have trended more books into the $8.00-$9.99 price band

— From May 16 to July 4 of this year, the number of titles on the Kindle Romance list between $8.00-$9.99 varied from 6-to-11.
— In the past month, the number of titles in this price band has been between 11-to-15.
— The same trend is visible on the Nook Romance list.

We will be doing this sort of thing periodically, so consider this the first of these recaps and thank you for your patience with the lists.

Ebook Best-Sellers, Expert Publishing Blog
Dan Lubart

About Dan Lubart

Dan Lubart is a technology strategist and data junkie who founded Iobyte Solutions in 2000 following a previous decade of solo consulting. Dan's experience with digital disruption includes a year spent at Universal Music Group around the time Napster first reared its head in the music industry. Currently SVP of Strategy and Publishing Operations at Hachette Book Group, Dan also continues to manage Iobyte and the eBook MarketView service that provides retail data and analytics on both physical and ebooks. With Iobyte, Dan has developed a consumer learning site for Scholastic and consulted with major clients in banking, pharmaceuticals, retail and media. Follow him on Twitter @ebook_mktview.


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