Fault in Our Stars Stays on Top of Best-Sellers List, Effect of Kindle First

Mr mercedesA big box office weekend for the film adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (Penguin Random House) has the ebook once again atop this week’s ebook best-seller list. It even bested the debut of Stephen King’s latest, Mr. Mercedes (Simon & Schuster).

Notably missing from the list this week are four Amazon Publishing titles: The Fracking King by James Browning; Supreme Justice by Max Allan Collins; One Lavender Ribbon by Heather Burch; and Artful by Peter David. All four are titles being pushed currently in the Kindle First program.

Kindle First allows Kindle owners a low-priced shot at Amazon Publishing ebook titles before they’re released to the wider public at a discount (in this case, the $4.99 titles are being sold for $1.99). Prime members can download one of these free per month and that’s the issue.

All four of these titles would have been in the top-25 this week — with two in the top ten — if both paid downloads and free downloads were counted. When we queried Amazon on this, a company spokesperson rightly pointed out that none of the downloads were technically free, since Prime is a paid membership program. Nevertheless, not each download was paid for and it could be misleading to include titles that are part free and part paid. When we suggested Amazon provide a breakdown of what percentage of the downloads were free to Prime members, the company declined further comment. Therefore, the only solution we could think of was to remove these titles from the list.

Feel free to leave a comment on this story if you have a question or concern about this practice.


Ebook Prices

The average price of a best-selling ebook again jumped over the $8.00 mark to settle this week at $8.17. Last week, the average price of a best-selling ebook was $7.29. The increase is mostly due to the arrival on the list of George R. R. Martin’s five-book Game of Thrones set for $19.99.

Top 25 Ebook Best-Sellers
Week Ending 6/7/14
Rank* Title Author Publisher  Price**  Change
1 (1) The Fault in Our Stars John Green Penguin Random House  $    4.99
2 (n/a) Mr. Mercedes: A Novel Stephen King Simon & Schuster  $   11.99 New
3 (5) The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Donna Tartt Hachette  $    7.50 -2
4 (2) City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments) Cassandra Clare Simon & Schuster  $   10.67 -2
5 (3) Unlucky 13 (Women’s Murder Club) James Patterson; Maxine Paetro Hachette  $    8.99 -2
6 (10) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou Penguin Random House  $    4.01 +4
7 (12) The Husband’s Secret Liane Moriarty Penguin Random House  $    5.99 +5
8 (6) Field of Prey John Sandford Penguin Random House  $    8.99 -2
9 (8) Allegiant (Divergent Series) Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    6.99 -1
10 (9) Insurgent (Divergent Series) Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    6.99 -1
11 (14) Divergent (Divergent Series) Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    4.99 +3
12 (11) The Target (Will Robie) David Baldacci Hachette  $    8.99 -1
13 (16) Gone Girl: A Novel Gillian Flynn Penguin Random House  $    8.54 +3
14 (21) Looking for Alaska John Green Penguin Random House  $    4.99 +7
15 (17) Orphan Train: A Novel Christina Baker Kline HarperCollins  $    6.99 +2
16 (n/a) The One and Only Emily Giffin Penguin Random House  $   11.84 New
17 (7) Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files Jim Butcher Penguin Random House  $   11.99 -10
18 (n/a) The Best Medicine (A Bell Harbor Novel) Tracy Brogan Amazon  $    4.99 New
19 (n/a) Written in My Own Heart’s Blood: A Novel (Outlander) Diana Gabaldon Penguin Random House  $   11.99 New
20 (n/a) Top Secret Twenty-one: A Stephanie Plum Novel Janet Evanovich Penguin Random House  $   11.84 New
21 (4) Moving Day: A Thriller Jonathan Stone Amazon  $    4.99 -17
22 (20) The Collector Nora Roberts Penguin Random House  $    8.99 -2
23 (n/a) George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones 5-Book Boxed Set (Song of Ice and Fire Series): A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons George R.R. Martin Penguin Random House  $   19.99 New
24 (n/a) Etched in Sand Regina Calcaterra HarperCollins  $    0.99 New
25 (n/a) Devil’s Game (Reapers Motorcycle Club) Joanna Wylde Penguin Random House  $    5.12 New

* 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 ebook pricing. Methodology available here.

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3 thoughts on “Fault in Our Stars Stays on Top of Best-Sellers List, Effect of Kindle First

  1. Theresa M. Moore

    And there lies two of the several reasons I closed my Amazon account, pulled my titles and stopped publishing my ebooks to KDP. When the ebooks were discounted below the set price, I was paid the royalty from the discounted price, not the list price. As for the free ebooks, my titles were often offered free as part of a “premium day”, which occurred as often as Amazon felt like it, even if I did not opt in to their KDP Select program. It did not matter if the customer paid into Prime or not. In this way, my royalties were eaten into so that it was no longer worth keeping my titles there. There is no love lost here. Anyone not pleased with Amazon’s silence is one of thousands of others who never received a reply for their concerns. The distinct lack of transparency on the part of Amazon is one reason why I do not trust it.

  2. Thomas D. Fleming

    So the free books are pushing the titles to the top listings. This is truly manipulation and an uncompetitive advantage. The work of writing must be an exercise in futility with everything against the writer today. Only those with the money to sustain the famine of book sales by another source of income can survive. It continually goes to show the old biblical adage, he rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I get very upset at the mooches/leaches who could careless about the writers and only select free copies like buzzards sucking on carrion. All best sellers should be based on sales, otherwise it sounds like an oxymoron.

  3. James

    I am an author and use my Kindle for organizing my notes with Clippings.io. Was wondering if anyone had any other good site recommendations?



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