Best-Selling Ebooks of 2013: Safe Haven, Inferno and More

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

No. 1 best-sellers covers_new editIf there was any consistent feature of the ebook market in 2013, it was volatility – especially when it came to best-selling ebooks. Prices climbed and plummeted from week-to-week, self-published authors achieved more than one No. 1 best-selling title and a few from “big six” (and later, “five”) publishers clung to the top slot for weeks at a time.

The past year has reshaped what it means for authors and publishers to have a “No. 1 best-seller” and multiplied their ways of getting there.

So we’ve compiled a list of 2013’s No. 1 best-selling ebooks from Digital Book World’s Ebook Best-Seller lists, arranged by titles that led the pack the longest.

In some cases, it’s easier to determine why certain titles may have fared so well. Nicholas Sparks’s Safe Haven held strong for eight weeks alongside the release of the movie based on the book; The Great Gatsby managed to slide into the top spot for a week of its own for the same reason.

There were surprises, too. Damaged by H. M. Ward and The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken shot to No. 1 for a week each, proving the lower-priced self-published model a force to be reckoned with in romance and new adult fiction.

Those titles represented the bottom end of the year’s price ranges, selling for $0.99 apiece. On average, though, readers paid $7.74 for a No. 1 best-selling ebook at the time the ebook was a No. 1 best-seller.

Overall, ebook best-seller prices declined throughout the year.

The list that follows summarizes the year-end data, with the graphic below emphasizing a few of 2013’s biggest No.1 best-sellers.

Here are few highlight stats:
– Eight of the No. 1 best-sellers were Penguin Random House titles. Hachette came in second with five.
– Three No.1 best-sellers were self-published.
– No. 1 best-seller prices ranged from $0.99 to $14.99
Safe Haven held the No. 1 position from January through mid-February for seven consecutive weeks of its eight, the longest such stretch in 2013.
– Dan Brown’s Inferno dominated May and June and The Cuckoo’s Calling July, while The Husband’s Secret was No. 1 for three separate periods of two weeks each, from the end of August to mid-October, twice ceding that spot to other titles in between.

Weekly No. 1 Ebook Best-Sellers | 2013

Rank Title Author Publisher Price* Weeks at No. 1
1 Safe Haven Nicholas Sparks Hachette $3.99 8
2 Inferno: A Novel Dan Brown Penguin Random House $12.99 7
3 The Husband’s Secret Liane Moriarty Penguin Random House $5.99 6
4 Sycamore Row John Grisham Penguin Random House $3.29 5
5 The Cuckoo’s Calling Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling) Hachette $9.99 4
6 The Hit David Baldacci Hachette $8.99 2
7 Wait for You J. Lynn self-published $0.99 2
8 Allegiant (Divergent) Veronica Roth HarperCollins $6.99 1
9 Beautiful Creatures Kami Garcia; Margaret Stohl Hachette $5.79 1
10 Damaged H. M. Ward self-published $0.99 1
11 Doctor Sleep: A Novel Stephen King Simon & Schuster $7.49 1
12 Entwined with You Sylvia Day Penguin Random House $9.99 1
13 Killing Jesus: A History Bill O’Reilly; Martin Dugard Macmillan $7.49 1
14 Lover at Last: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood J. R. Ward Penguin Random House $14.99 1
15 Never Go Back: A Jack Reacher Novel Lee Child Penguin Random House $11.76 1
16 Six Years Harlan Coben Penguin Random House $14.99 1
17 The Bet Rachel Van Dyken self-published $0.99 1
18 The Book Thief Markus Zusak Penguin Random House $2.49 1
19 The Boy in the Suitcase Lene Kaaberbol; Agnete Friis Soho Press $1.99 1
20 The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald Simon & Schuster $4.99 1
21 The Host: A Novel Stephenie Meyer Hachette $3.99 1

* Price represents the lowest available price for the book across six ebook retailers during the weeks when it was a No. 1 best-seller.

No. 1 best-sellers covers_new edit

12 thoughts on “Best-Selling Ebooks of 2013: Safe Haven, Inferno and More

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  4. Skip Michael

    It looks like the big publishers are once again dominating the publishing world. The self published little person has to find a way to overcome the vast marketing contacts the established publishing world has or we will not survive. I for one will not give up…

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  7. Glenn

    Very interesting reading. Proves there is an insatiable demand for books/ebooks. The thing that concerns me is the free books phenomenon. I understand the concept of loss leaders etc, but in professional photography it’s frowned upon to give away your work for free.

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