Hachette Retains No. 1 Spot on Best-Seller List With Baldacci’s ‘The Target’

capital in the 21st centuryFor the second week in a row, a Hachette title tops the DBW Ebook Best-Seller List. The Target by David Baldacci was the best-selling ebook for the week ending May 3, selling for $12.74.

While ebook prices have spiked up to late 2013 over the past few weeks and now sit at another 2014 high ($8.25), it’s still somewhat jarring in this age of ultra-low-priced ebooks to see a No. 1 best-seller at such a relatively high price. Have we entered a new era for ebook pricing, one in which prices are a bit higher?

It’s widely speculated in the industry that Amazon regularly prices best-selling ebooks at very low prices that lose the e-tailer money to get readers in its shop to buy more profitable ebooks that may not be best-sellers. Perhaps the company has tired on losing so much money on front-list titles.

Last year around the holidays, front-list best-sellers were going for all-time low prices:

Buy the new John Grisham (Penguin Random House) for $3.29 or Donna Tartt’s sensation The Goldfinch (Hachette) for $1.79. Buy Gone Girl (Penguin Random House) for $3.29 or all five Game of Thrones (Penguin Random House) books for $9.99 (a lot of pages for just ten dollars).

Is that era over? Or will we see ebook prices dip again at some point?

Related: Ebook Best-Seller Prices on the Upswing, Overall Trend Is Down

Top 25 Ebook Best-Sellers
Week Ending 5/3/14
Rank* Title Author Publisher  Price**  Change
1 (1) The Target (Will Robie) David Baldacci Hachette  $   12.74
2 (3) The Fault in Our Stars John Green Penguin Random House  $    7.40 +1
3 (2) The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Donna Tartt Hachette  $    7.50 -1
4 (5) Allegiant (Divergent Series) Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    6.99 +1
5 (6) Divergent (Divergent Series) Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    4.99 +1
6 (9) Gone Girl: A Novel Gillian Flynn Penguin Random House  $    8.55 +3
7 (7) Insurgent (Divergent Series) Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    6.99
8 (4) 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 -4
9 (12) I Am Livia Phyllis T. Smith Amazon  $    4.99 +3
10 (11) The Husband’s Secret Liane Moriarty Penguin Random House  $    5.99 +1
11 (10) The Collector Nora Roberts Penguin Random House  $   11.99 -1
12 (13) Orphan Train: A Novel Christina Baker Kline HarperCollins  $    6.99 +1
13 (8) The Fixed Trilogy: Fixed on You, Found in You, Forever with You Laurelin Paige Self-published  $    0.99 -5
14 (n/a) Natchez Burning (Penn Cage) Greg Iles HarperCollins  $   12.74 New
15 (14) Little Girl Lost: A Lucy Black Thriller (Lucy Black Thrillers) Brian McGilloway HarperCollins  $    0.99 -1
16 (16) NYPD Red 2 James Patterson; Marshall Karp Hachette  $    8.99
17 (21) The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd Penguin Random House  $   10.99 +4
18 (19) I’ve Got You Under My Skin: A Novel Mary Higgins Clark Simon & Schuster  $   10.99 +1
19 (new) Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance Jennifer Ashley Fire Flower Publishing  $    0.99 New
20 (22) The Book Thief Markus Zusak Penguin Random House  $    6.99 +2
21 (18) Missing You Harlan Coben Penguin Random House  $   10.99 -3
22 (n/a) The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, Book One) (The Maze Runner Series) James Dashner Penguin Random House  $    5.69 New
23 (24) Shadow Spell: Book Two of The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy Nora Roberts Penguin Random House  $    7.99 +1
24 (n/a) Unlucky 13 (Women’s Murder Club) James Patterson; Maxine Paetro Hachette  $   12.74 New
25 (17) Capital in the Twenty-First Century Thomas Piketty Harvard University Press  $   21.99 -8

* 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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One thought on “Hachette Retains No. 1 Spot on Best-Seller List With Baldacci’s ‘The Target’

  1. Michael W. Perry

    I doubt Amazon is selling ebooks below cost anymore. That was years back when the company had a 90% market share and wanted to snuff out the remaining 10%. Amazon now has the Obama administration and the DOJ doing their bidding, proper Chicago machine style. In Chicago, it is routine politics to reward one firm with special treatment while crushing competitors. If we had a real press in this country with journalists who had backbones, that sort of behavior would be in the news almost daily.

    What Amazon does do is what the publishing trade press seems strangely reluctant to report–Amazon’s bizarre price-dependent royalty scheme. Ebooks that sell between $2.95 and $9.95 get 70% royalties less a grossly inflated \download fee.\ All other prices only get a miserly 35% royalties. It’s right there in a publicly available contract. Can’t journalist research and read? Sometimes I wonder.

    That distorts pricing. Publishers who’re thinking of pricing an ebook at $0.99 or $1.99 will get that measly 35%. Raising it to $2.95 will earn them 70% (less that download robbery). Triple the price and a publisher gets almost six times the income. That inflates prices. That’s what the DOJ should be prosecuting.

    There are similar distortions at the high end. Amazon may claim that slashing royalties in half above $9.95 keeps prices down. It does sometimes. It doesn’t at other times, particularly with limited circulation college textbooks. To earn a penny more in royalties than an ebook would earn at $9.95, a publisher has to price it over about $27. And for every dollar more that publisher needs to recover for his costs, he must raise the price almost $3, with Amazon grabbing the $2. Greed, greed, greed–in this case at the expense of college students. Is there a story there? Not for the American press.

    It utterly amazes me that the trade press isn’t making more of this. At times, I feel like I’m watching a herd of cattle at my uncle’s ranch. The herd wanders this way and that, but none of the cattle seem to display a mind of their own. The herd thinks Amazon sells below cost, so that’s what it must be even though the reality is that Amazon is making buckets of money on its ebooks, bestseller and all.

    My own back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that taking into account those substandard royalties, that grossly inflated download fee (the equivalent of a $400 hamburger), and the economies of scale, Amazon earns about twice as much, on average, as other ebook retailers. Yes, some goes to subsidize Kindle sales, but not all.

    The idea that Amazon is \tired of loosing money\ on ebooks is ridiculous. It’s making a fortune, hand over fist. That’s why it wants to grow its ebook market share. That’s why it wants to crush competitors like Apple. And once it has done that, look for that dreadful 35% royalty rate to be applied to all price levels.

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