Bankable Best-Sellers Rebound Following Holiday Device Sales, Average Ebook Best-Seller Price Continues Plummet

Familiar names to the ebook best-seller list in 2012 made a strong return in the first week of 2013, possibly driven by new device sales.

The Hunger Games trilogy surged to near the top of the list after fading from its long-time hold on the top-three spots all last year. The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy also had a stronger showing this week than in the months leading up to 2013.

“A surge of new devices might tend to reinvigorate the bestsellers as opposed to the existing devices that have probably already purchased them and are mainly looking at new books,” said Dan Lubart, owner of Iobyte Solutions, the data provider for Digital Book World’s Ebook Best-Seller List and senior vice president of sales analytics at HarperCollins. “If you just got your first e-reader this holiday what would be the first thing you’d download?”

The first two books of The Hunger Games trilogy surged back onto the top-25 list after an absence to take spots Nos. 3 and 5. The third book, Mockingjay, jumped to No. 11 from No. 18. The Fifty Shades books all booked increases of three-to-seven spots.

Another surprising fact about the first ebook best-seller list in 2013 is that the average price of books on the list has continued its long decline since some of the largest publishers gave up discounting power to their retail partners. The average price of an ebook best-seller is now $8.23, down from a previous low of $8.84, recorded in mid-Dec.

The decrease in average price is almost certainly due to retailer discounting. For instance, this week’s new No. 1, Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (Hachette), was discounted by its retailers to $3.99 on Dec. 20 after several graduated discounts throughout the Fall that saw its price decrease from $9.99, the last price its publisher set. It had been priced at $12.99 when it was new in late 2010 and early 2011. (The ebook was also likely helped by the upcoming film adaptation, set to hit theaters in Feb. 2013.)

Another good example is our last No. 1 book on this list, The Forgotten by David Baldacci (Hachette). It was discounted this week to $9.20 after being priced at $11.04 for most of Dec. The last time its publisher set its price it was $12.99.

When Penguin and then, eventually Random House, sign new contracts with ebook retailers in 2013, the average price of an ebook best-seller should decrease further.

See the rest of the the best-seller lists for the week ending Jan. 5:

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 1/5/13
Rank* Title Author Publisher  Price** Change
1 (23) Safe Haven Nicholas Sparks Hachette  $    3.99 +22
2 (3) Gone Girl: A Novel Gillian Flynn Random House  $   12.99 +1
3 (n/a) The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games Trilogy – Book 1) Suzanne Collins Scholastic  $    5.00 New
4 (8) The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  $    6.39 +4
5 (n/a) Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Trilogy – Book 2) Suzanne Collins Scholastic  $    5.99 New
6 (6) The Racketeer John Grisham Random House  $   12.99
7 (1) The Forgotten David Baldacci Hachette  $    9.20 -6
8 (12) Fifty Shades Of Grey: Book One Of The Fifty Shades Trilogy E. L. James Random House  $    9.99 +4
9 (16) Fifty Shades Darker: Book Two Of The Fifty Shades Trilogy E. L. James Random House  $    9.99 +7
10 (13) Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three of the Fifty Shades Trilogy E. L. James Random House  $    9.99 +3
11 (18) Mockingjay (The Hunger Games Trilogy – Book 3) Suzanne Collins Scholastic  $    5.99 +7
12 (5) Merry Christmas, Alex Cross James Patterson Hachette  $    9.20 -7
13 (9) Private London James Patterson; Mark Pearson Hachette  $    8.28 -4
14 (n/a) Water for Elephants: A Novel Sara Gruen Workman  $    1.99 New
15 (n/a) The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky Simon & Schuster  $    3.99 New
16 (7) Notorious Nineteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel Janet Evanovich Random House  $   12.99 -9
17 (n/a) The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 7) Jeff Kinney Abrams  $    6.65 New
18 (4) The Black Box (A Harry Bosch Novel) Michael Connelly Hachette  $    8.28 -14
19 (20) Reflected in You: A Crossfire Novel Sylvia Day Penguin  $    9.99 +1
20 (15) Life of Pi Yann Martel Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  $    8.39 -5
21 (25) Bared to You: A Crossfire Novel Sylvia Day Penguin  $    9.99 +4
22 (10) Threat Vector (Jack Ryan Novels) Tom Clancy; Mark Greaney Penguin  $   12.99 -12
23 (n/a) Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, No. 1) Lee Child Penguin  $    9.99 New
24 (n/a) Beautiful Creatures (Beautiful Creatures Series #1) Kami Garcia; Margaret Stohl Hachette  $    3.99 New
25 (n/a) Divergent Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    6.56 New

* List rank for last week ebook best-sellers were recorded (ending 12/15/12) 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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