This is a first chart of 2012 – and the first one which allows for year-to-year comparison, as I started to collect the data exactly one year ago. If you don’t want to miss new lists, make sure to get updates by RSS or email.
For self-published books in Kindle Store’s Top 100, December was the worst month of 2011. Now, after the Christmas peak, big publishers have cut their marketing budgets, book sales are down, and those who are still buying are price-sensitive, heavy readers.
January had to be better. And it is better – unexpectedly better.
Despite the competition, the number of self-published books has increased from 13 to 19. What’s very interesting, that increase comes together with the increase of the average price of self-published books in Top 100. In December it was $1.34, now it’s $1.78 – 30% higher.
A year ago, in January 2011, there were 13 self-published titles in Top 100, and the average price was as much as $1.99. And it was before self-publishing became hot topic in mainstream media. The rest of the year was about making the most of $0.99 price tag and in the end it started to wear out. The December results are the best proof of it.
Now the prices of self-published books are increasing, and not only Barbara Freethy sells books for more than $0.99.
Kathleen Long, the author of the best self-published book of January, Chasing Rainbows, offers it for $2.99. J.A. Konrath has increased the price of The List from $2.99 at the beginning of January (when I prepared the report for December) to $3.99, but the book is still in the chart.
The fact to remember is that books positioned as price bargains are facing a growing competition. It’s time to shift focus to quality and appeal self-published books offer – but their authors don’t expose it. As Suw Charman-Anderson writes for the Forbes:
I am increasingly of the mind that we authors need to give readers what they want: not just a good story, but a good experience, a sense of belonging to something bigger than oneself, a desirable artefact that we’ll want to have on our shelves simply because it is as beautiful outside as it is inside.
Self-published books should offer something more than just a dumping price. Especially that dumping prices are within the reach of big publishers. Lisa Gardner’s The 7th Month is being sold by Penguin Publishing for $1.99. Harper Collins sells Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon with a $2.99 price tag. For the same price you can buy A Heartbeat Away by Michael Palmer, published by St. Martin’s Press.
Most importantly, price competition comes not only from big publishers, but from Amazon’s own publishing imprints. Home by Morning by Alexis Harrington costs $1.99, is ranked #13 in Top 100, and was published by Amazon’s romance publishing house, Montlake Romance.
Thomas & Mercer, another imprint from Amazon, focusing on mystery and thrillers, has placed a couple of books in the chart, including two books by Ed McBain from 87th Precinct series. The books sell at $4.99 and it looks like we have an extremely strong player in the middle-price territory.
We have to remember, that Amazon is in the best possible position to sell their own books in their own store. For a self-published author it may be a strong reason to go with Amazon and not with any other publisher, especially for authors who enjoyed big sales in Kindle Store already and know the power of this ebookstore.
I’d like to stress one thing. Amazon, as a publishing house and a content distributor in one, know much more about author they don’t have a deal with, than any other publishing house. They know, for instance, that the self-published book is enjoying high and stable sales before other publishers will see it on top of the charts. What’s more, Amazon guys know the dynamics of the book’s sales. They can spot the good title, read it and offer a deal sooner than any other publisher.
David Lender, who was in the charts in March, April and May last year, signed the deal with Thomas & Mercer. The benefit for the author to go with Amazon’s imprint is that his books will be promoted much more heavily across the site. Recently, Lender’s Vaccine Nation has been offered as Kindle Daily Deal. There is also a banner announcing it as a hot new thriller.
Out of ten self-published authors who placed their books in Top 50, five were not on the list last month. It’s Kathleen Long, Marlen Suyapa Bodden, A.K. Alexander, Debra Webb, Debora Geary. They are highly visible in Kindle Indie Books – Kindle Store editors curate this place and it’s obvious that it’s one of Amazon’s imprints to be first to offer deals to the best authors.
What do you think – is it good to increase the price of the book? How does it affect sales and earnings? At my blog I wrote a post about the price strategy for international readers. If you’re an author who sells via Kindle Store US, your books can be bought in over 170 countries. This is a huge opportunity – and you still have flexibility in how you set up the price.
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Stay tuned. Next big thing I’m going to share is a comparison of prices and availability of books in major ebookstores: Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google eBookstore and iBooks Store.
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Self-published books in Kindle Top 100: January 2012 – Numbers
Data collected on February 3rd, 2012, from Kindle Store’s January Bestsellers Archive.
|Number of self-published books in Top 100:||19|
|Number of self-published books in Top 50:||10|
|Number of self-published books in Top 10:||3|
|Position of a highest ranked self-published book:||4|
|Number of self-published books priced $0.99:||12|
|Share of self-published books priced $0.99:||63%|
|Average price of a self-published book:||$1.78|
|Price of the most expensive self-published book:||$3.99|
Self-published books in Kindle Top 100: January 2012 – List
# – place in Top 100.
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