Average Price of Ebook Best-Seller Ticks up Even as More Expensive Ebooks Fall Out of Favor With Readers

lover at lastThe average price for a best-selling ebook ticked up over $8.00 this week for the first time since Feb., even as books in some of the pricier categories fell off the best-seller list.

As booksellers and publishers figure out how to price their new and back-list books in the wake of agency pricing for some of the largest U.S. publishers, prices are fluctuating wildly. The average price for a best-selling ebook is now $8.27, up from $7.84 last week and $7.40 two weeks ago — an all-time low. That’s a 12% swing in two weeks.

Since Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster have given the ebook pricing reins to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others, the average price of a best-selling ebook has plummeted, from nearly $12.00 the summer of 2012 to under $8.00 for much of this year. Part of that is discounting of new and best-selling titles by the retailers. Part of it is strategic discounting of list price by publishers to juice sales of back-list and, sometimes, of new ebooks. Some of it is self-published authors having success at selling ebooks below $5.00.

Amid all the chaos, one of new emerging themes is the disappearance from our list of the $9.99 ebook. It used to be routine that there were seven titles in our top-25 priced in the $8.00 to $9.99 range — sometimes eight or nine. In mid-Oct., eleven of the top-25 best-selling ebooks were in that price range. That’s 44% of the list. This week, there are only four on the list and three of them are the Fifty Shades trilogy.

Noticeably absent from the list this week? Amazon Publishing’s Hangman’s Daughter series. After a flash of sales due to a pricing promotion, the three titles that all hit in the top-12 have disappeared from the top-25.

See the rest of the the best-seller lists for the week ending March 31:

– Digital Book World Best-Selling Ebooks Priced $10.00 and Above
– Digital Book World Best-Selling Ebooks Priced $8.00 – $9.99
– Digital Book World Best-Selling Ebooks Priced $3.00 – $7.99
– Digital Book World Best-Selling Ebooks Priced $0.00 – $2.99

Read and comment on our methodology.

Top 25 Ebook Best-Sellers
Week Ending 3/31/13
Rank* Title Author Publisher  Price**  Change
1 (n/a) Lover At Last: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood J.R. Ward Penguin  $   14.99 New
2 (9) The Host: A Novel Stephenie Meyer Hachette  $    1.99 +7
3 (1) Six Years Harlan Coben Penguin  $   14.99 -2
4 (3) Wait for You J. Lynn Self-published  $    2.99 -1
5 (4) Three Sisters (Blackberry Island) Susan Mallery Harlequin  $    5.50 -1
6 (25) The Edge of Never J.A Redmerski Hachette  $    0.99 +19
7 (5) Alex Cross, Run James Patterson Hachette  $   11.99 -2
8 (7) Gone Girl: A Novel Gillian Flynn Random House  $   12.99 -1
9 (13) Firefly Lane : A Novel Kristin Hannah Macmillan  $    2.99 +4
10 (6) A Week in Winter Maeve Binchy Random House  $    9.99 -4
11 (10) Safe Haven Nicholas Sparks Hachette  $    5.69 -1
12 (11) Mirror Image Sandra Brown Hachette  $    4.74 -1
13 (n/a) The Wanderer (Thunder Point) Robyn Carr Harlequin  $    5.99 New
14 (15) The Storyteller Jodi Picoult Simon & Schuster  $   12.74 +1
15 (n/a) Twice Tempted: A Night Prince Novel Jeaniene Frost HarperCollins  $    6.45 New
16 (14) Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead Sheryl Sandberg Random House  $   12.99 -2
17 (18) Defending Jacob: A Novel William Landay Random House  $    7.99 +1
18 (16) The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel Matthew Quick Macmillan  $    7.99 -2
19 (n/a) The Burgess Boys: A Novel Elizabeth Strout Random House  $   12.99 New
20 (17) Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three of the Fifty Shades Trilogy E. L. James Random House  $    9.99 -3
21 (19) Breath of Scandal Sandra Brown Hachette  $    4.74 -2
22 (n/a) Just One Night, Part 1: The Stranger Kyra Davis Simon & Schuster  $    1.99 New
23 (20) Fifty Shades Darker: Book Two Of The Fifty Shades Trilogy E. L. James Random House  $    9.99 -3
24 (22) Fifty Shades Of Grey: Book One Of The Fifty Shades Trilogy E. L. James Random House  $    9.99 -2
25 (21) Calculated in Death J. D. Robb Penguin  $   12.99 -4

* Previous week’s list rank in parentheses.
** Price reflects minimum price across all retailers throughout the week. Price may vary between retailers and may change throughout the week. Contact Iobyte Solutions for more information on e-book pricing.
Methodology available here.

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