Ebook Best-Seller Prices Fall to Lowest Ever, Self-Published Title Retains No. 1 Rank

narniaIn the ebook era, anything is possible.

If you told publishing observers and executives at major publishing houses a year ago that the average price of a best-selling ebook would plummet to under $8.00 and that a self-published title would be the No. 1 best-seller for several weeks, they would probably say that’s impossible.

“Impossible” just isn’t in the ebook dictionary anymore.

For the second straight week, a self-published title is the No. 1 best-selling ebook, Wait for You by J. Lynn (the self-publishing pen name for hybrid author Jennifer L. Armentrout). Also in surprising news, the average price of a best-selling ebook is now $7.40, down from $7.61 a week ago and from $7.56, the all-time low, recorded in mid-Feb.

The two headlines are not linked. In fact, the price of Armentrout’s book went up from last week to this week, from $0.99 to $2.99.


Harlequin Has a Hit

Unlike much of the rest of the romance book industry, which has benefited greatly from the ebook revolution, Harlequin seems to have been left behind. Its latest financial results showed that ebook growth was coming up very short to stem print retraction.

Lately, though, prospects at the company are looking up. Last week, Harlequin made headlines when it signed best-selling author Sylvia Day to a two-ebook, seven-figure deal to kick off its partnership with Cosmopolitan magazine. And, today, Harlequin has an ebook hit on its hands with Three Sisters (Blackberry Island) by Susan Mallery, which is currently sitting at No. 2 on our best-seller list and selling for $5.00.


The Return to Narnia 

In the brand new tradition of major publishers discounting big-time back-list books to juice sales to previously unheard-of levels, HarperCollins is selling the beloved Narnia series of children’s fantasy novels for $1.99 and combined it with an Amazon Kindle homepage promotion. Sales have followed. Four Narnia titles are in the top-25 — at ranks 3, 12, 21 and 22. In fact, these four books surging on to the list help explain the price drop we’re seeing among ebook best-sellers.


See the rest of the the best-seller lists for the week ending March 17:

– 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 3/17/13
Rank* Title Author Publisher  Price**  Change
1 (1) Wait for You J. Lynn Self-published  $    2.99
2 (12) Three Sisters (Blackberry Island) Susan Mallery Harlequin  $    5.00 +10
3 (n/a) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia C.S. Lewis HarperCollins  $    1.99 New
4 (2) Alex Cross, Run James Patterson Hachette  $   11.99 -2
5 (3) Mirror Image Sandra Brown Hachette  $    1.99 -2
6 (5) The Hunger Games Trilogy Suzanne Collins Scholastic  $    5.00 -1
7 (n/a) Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead Sheryl Sandberg Random House  $   12.99 New
8 (4) Safe Haven Nicholas Sparks Hachette  $    5.62 -4
9 (6) Gone Girl: A Novel Gillian Flynn Random House  $   12.99 -3
10 (7) A Week in Winter Maeve Binchy Random House  $    9.99 -3
11 (14) Firefly Lane: A Novel Kristin Hannah Macmillan  $    2.99 +3
12 (n/a) The Magician’s Nephew: The Chronicles of Narnia C.S. Lewis HarperCollins  $    1.99 New
13 (n/a) The Host: A Novel Stephenie Meyer Hachette  $    5.99 New
14 (8) Calculated in Death J. D. Robb Penguin  $   12.99 -6
15 (9) The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel Matthew Quick Macmillan  $    9.99 -6
16 (16) The Storyteller Jodi Picoult Simon & Schuster  $   12.59
17 (19) Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three Of The Fifty Shades Trilogy E. L. James Random House  $    9.99 +2
18 (13) Into the Darkest Corner Elizabeth Haynes HarperCollins  $    1.99 -5
19 (23) Defending Jacob: A Novel William Landay Random House  $    7.99 +4
20 (10) Rush (The Breathless Trilogy) Maya Banks Penguin  $    7.99 -10
21 (n/a) Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia) C.S. Lewis HarperCollins  $    1.99 New
22 (n/a) The Horse and His Boy: The Chronicles of Narnia C.S. Lewis HarperCollins  $    1.99 New
23 (n/a) Fifty Shades Darker: Book Two Of The Fifty Shades Trilogy E. L. James Random House  $    9.99 New
24 (18) Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson) Patricia Briggs Penguin  $   12.99 -6
25 (20) Touch and Go Lisa Gardner Penguin  $   12.99 -5

* 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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3 thoughts on “Ebook Best-Seller Prices Fall to Lowest Ever, Self-Published Title Retains No. 1 Rank

  1. Jack W Perry

    Fascinating list. A new core competency is \price strategy.\ I wonder if a book like SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK would get a big bump now from a price promotion? The book obviously has been a huge seller because of the movie and has been at $9.99. But now it is starting to drop (down to 15 from 9) and will probably drop off the list in the next few weeks. But given there is still a \high Book Q\ rating for it, would a price drop to $4.99 double sales and push it back up? Or is it best to just keep it at $9.99?

    1. Jeremy Greenfield Post author

      What we’ve been observing, Jack, is that price decreases without some sort of promotion don’t have very much of an effect. Additionally, small price decreases have little or no effect whatsoever.

      So, in the case of SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, probably a large price decrease combined with aggressive promotion could help lift sales significantly. At least, that’s what we’ve observed with other titles.

  2. Pingback: Der richtige E-Book-Preis, oder: die ewige Suche nach dem digitalen Gral » Debatte, eBooks » lesen.net


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