Hachette Loses Grip on No. 1 Ebook Best-Seller Spot, Prices Drop

the fault in our starsHachette has lost its grip on the No. 1 ebook best-seller spot as David Baldacci’s The Target fell to No. 7 on our weekly best-seller list. And for the first time this year Penguin Random House is No. 1 on the list with John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which is riding publicity from an upcoming film, which hits theaters June 6.

Could Hachette’s fall from No. 1 on the best-seller list have anything to do with the company’s conflict with Amazon, which is the most important piece in our best-seller formula?

Likely not. A Hachette spokesperson told Digital Book World last week that Amazon’s moves against the company were not affecting its ebook retail efforts. That said, a DBW reader and Hachette author Michael Sullivan pointed out in the comments to our article:

Amazon removed virtually all the discounts from Hachette titles starting on Feb 7, 2014. Books in pre-orders or VERY recently released books, still have discounts, but all the other books (both print and ebook) are being sold at full price.

Outside of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, the two Hachette titles on the list are priced at $12.74, well above this week’s average price for a best-selling ebooks, $6.88, which is down significantly from last week when it was $8.25.

 

Top 25 Ebook Best-Sellers
Week Ending 5/10/14
Rank* Title Author Publisher  Price** Change
1 (2) The Fault in Our Stars John Green Penguin Random House  $    7.40 +1
2 (n/a) Moving Day: A Thriller Jonathan Stone Amazon  $    4.99 New
3 (24) Unlucky 13 (Women’s Murder Club) James Patterson; Maxine Paetro Hachette  $   12.74 +21
4 (n/a) The One (The Selection) Kiera Cass HarperCollins  $    9.99 New
5 (n/a) Dragon’s Triangle Christine Kling Amazon  $    4.99 New
6 (3) The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Donna Tartt Hachette  $    7.50 -3
7 (1) The Target (Will Robie) David Baldacci Hachette  $   12.74 -6
8 (n/a) Field of Prey John Sandford Penguin Random House  $   11.99 New
9 (5) Divergent (Divergent Series) Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    4.99 -4
10 (4) Allegiant (Divergent Series) Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    6.99 -6
11 (7) Insurgent (Divergent Series) Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    6.99 -4
12 (n/a) Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose Candace Cameron Bure B&H Books  $    0.99 New
13 (n/a) Archer’s Voice Mia Sheridan Self-published  $    0.99 New
14 (6) Gone Girl: A Novel Gillian Flynn Penguin Random House  $    8.54 -8
15 (n/a) From the Moment We Met (A St. Helena Vineyard Novel) Marina Adair Amazon  $    4.99 New
16 (n/a) Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings Michelle Knight Perseus Books  $    9.50 New
17 (10) The Husband’s Secret Liane Moriarty Penguin Random House  $    5.99 -7
18 (8) Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back Todd Burpo; Sonja Burpo; Lynn Vincent; Colton Burpo HarperCollins  $    7.99 -10
19 (12) Orphan Train: A Novel Christina Baker Kline HarperCollins  $    6.99 -7
20 (11) The Collector Nora Roberts Penguin Random House  $   11.99 -9
21 (14) Natchez Burning (Penn Cage) Greg Iles HarperCollins  $   12.74 -7
22 (n/a) Chasing the Sun: A Novel Natalia Sylvester Amazon  $    4.99 New
23 (19) Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance Jennifer Ashley Fire Flower Publishing  $    0.99 -4
24 (15) Little Girl Lost: A Lucy Black Thriller (Lucy Black Thrillers) Brian McGilloway HarperCollins  $    0.99 -9
25 (n/a) A Sweet Life Boxed Set (Fourteen Contemporary Romances by Bestselling Authors to Benefit Diabetes Research) Barbara Freethy Self-published  $    2.99 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 “Hachette Loses Grip on No. 1 Ebook Best-Seller Spot, Prices Drop

  1. Michael W. Perry

    When I lived in Seattle, I sometimes asked Amazon software developers I met if they were in a position to \set my superbit.\ I’d then explain that having a superbit attached to book’s entry in Amazon database would, in my hypothesis, propel it to near the top a search list. The flip side would be an ‘suprabit’ that would send it toward the bottom.

    Alas, I never had an Amazon programmer respond with, \You’re not supposed to know about that. That’s a secret.\ So maybe it doesn’t exist. I have heard though the broader developer community, however, that other tweaks exist. One told me that Amazon had been struggling to come up with ways to conceal its hard-core porn books from the eyes of most customers. That might mean, for instance, having a ‘mommy bit’ for some customers. It’d determine what the do not see.

    I do know that Amazon does adjust its search results to push higher-priced items over lower-priced ones. I had one of Amazon’s lawyers defend that policy to me. And an Amazon developer I met did remark rather cryptically that Amazon search results weren’t to be trusted.

    So, it’s possible that Amazon has either tweaked something about Hachette’s ebooks to make them appear a bit less often on more ambiguous search results or to pop up less often on ‘you might also like’ listings. That could impact sales without being obvious. After all, Amazon does have criteria such as price, profit margin, and popularity that determine what appears and what doesn’t. It’d be quite easy to add a publisher compliance field.

    After all, Amazon has already made clear with pricing and availability that it is willing to play an open game of \Do what we say or bad things will happen to your books.\

    Personally, I consider what Amazon is doing idiotic. It’s all to easy to bully others when you are at the top. But the day will come when Amazon is in trouble. And when that time comes, Amazon may find that publishers are making ‘mistakes.’ Somehow, their shipping department has forgotten to send Amazon truckloads of that hot-selling new novel. \Oh, so sorry,\ they will say.\ And somehow their technical staff created a defectively formatted version of the ebook version of that same novel. The iPad version runs fine, but alas, there are problems with the Kindle HD. Again, \sorry about that.\

    Reply
  2. Theresa M. Moore

    No, Michael; this has been Standard Operating Procedure for Amazon since it issued the first Kindle. It’s KDP (formerly) DTP ebook platform always had problems, and Amazon exascerbated them by 1) ignoring the standard BISAC classifications in favor of their own interpretations, 2) allowed negative reviews posted by trolls, 3) removed reviews posted by professional readers who were themselves customers, 4) halted or suspended sales of selected ebooks “at our discretion” for no reasons whatsoever. and 5) offered selected ebooks for free in violation of its own contract with suppliers. I can see that despite the high price of Hachette books as against Amazon books and books published by others, the best seller list is pressured only by sales numbers, and the numbers indicate that every ebook has the same opportunity to rise as long as Amazon does nothing to interfere. Since Amazon has gamed the system since day one, its list is not an indicator of success, only numbers. And I can’t believe that Amazon published books are any better than any of the others. Amazon’s claims of quality are predicated by the willingness of an author to capitulate to its standards, which I find suspect by the very nature of its SOP. I would better trust the NY Times Best Seller List than the Amazon Best Seller List.

    Reply
  3. Bill Gleason

    Is Amazon playing games? Of course. Determining the \why\ is a bit more difficult.

    Here’s some proof of the games Amazon is playing. Hachette published a hard cover title (Robert Ludlum/James Garrison) called The Janson Option on 3/18/2014. It was immediately available as a hard cover in stores, on the B/N site, and as an ebook ($ 14.99)

    Amazon only listed it as a hard cover, NO Kindle version except for a free excerpt 5-chapter offer.

    I found this a bit odd and queried Amazon. They told me it was Hachette’s fault, and I should write to them. So I did. They got back to me with this message on 4/29:

    =================
    This book is available in a Kindle edition:

    http://www.amazon.com/Robert-Ludlums-Janson-Option-Paul-ebook/dp/B007ZFY9QY/ref=tmm_kin_title_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398738108&sr=8-1

    Thanks,
    Doug
    Customer Service
    Hachette Book Group USA
    =======================
    It is available at this url, also for $ 14.99

    Here’s where it gets strange. When you search Amazon and get to the book’s landing page, there is no kindle version available.

    http://www.amazon.com/Robert-Ludlums-Janson-Option-Paul/dp/0446564486

    So – while it might be a mistake – I don’t think so. Something is afoot…

    The latest NY Times Bestseller List still has Baldacci on top, followed by Greg Iles (Natchez Burning) It would appear fans of hard cover books have no problem shelling over $ 20 + for a first run hard cover. I certainly never did.

    But do ebook readers want to fork over $ 12.74 (the price of both ebooks), 14.99, and $ 15.99?

    No – the ebook market is saying \TOO MUCH\

    I did read David Baldacci’s The Target and paid my $ 12.74, but I’ve read all his books and enjoy his work. I like Greg Iles but won’t pay $ 12.74. I like Paul Garrison as well, but $ 14.99 for an ebook?

    All games aside, what I see in the first 1/2 of 2014 is (1) Barnes and Noble pricing their ebooks in the stratosphere in an attempt to right a sinking ship (2) Amazon playing games and going along for the ride…

    You see – every author has a pyramid of reaaders. I am at the top of Baldacci’s pyramid, but in the second or third level of Garrison and Iles.

    I think both re-sellers are crazy if they think there’s a huge market for \hard-cover-ebooks\ selling at 75% of the discounted print version. Really – ridiculous.

    And that goes a long way to explaining Baldacci’s book going \over the hill\ so quickly on your ebook list and Greg Iles barely making it on/up the hill.

    The far too traditional publishing industry just wants to hold on to it’s hard cover pricing and distribution model, and while for some author/reader combinations, they will get premium ebook sales.

    But only a fraction of what a market priced ebook would fetch… and I suspect both $ 9.99 and (maybe) 10.99 price points are the high end.

    Note to B/N on $ 14.99 and $ 15.99 ebooks, and not matching prices. Not gonna work… Had one of the original kindles, switched to Nook when pricing was competitive, now back with Kindle HDX.

    I still have a Nook account, I just don’t use it anymore. That’s two books a week, baby.

    BTW, for good.

    Reply

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