I believe it was June 1 when Amazon launched its Sunshine Deals. Sunshine Deals highlighted over 600 books that were all promotionally priced at $2.99 and under. (U.S. Residents only). I’ve been watching these deals and the books since Sunday as well as the news articles surrounding the deals.
Dan Lubart from eBook Market Views is, among many other things, tracking the pricing of bestsellers at Amazon. This makes sense because ordinarily bestseller lists are dominated by Agency priced books. Tracking the pricing at Amazon probably gives a pretty good snapshot of what the market looks like in terms of pricing. In June, Dan noticed that the Sunshine Deals have driven the average price of a bestseller down from above $8 to slightly above $6.
By promoting discoverability of cheaper titles, they have likely created a surge in sales in that price band, driving many of these titles onto the bestseller list for the first time. Ranking doesn’t tell the whole story, but we have to wonder if this program has had a significant downward effect on sales volume of higher priced titles. It certainly speaks to the tremendous promotional power Amazon has to influence what people are buying.
Paid Content noticed that of the Kindle bestsellers, a quarter of them were books in the Sunshine Deal promotion. Over half are books that are $.99. Sourcebooks is one of the publishers that is experiencing the most success from the Sunshine Deal promotion. Remember that none of the publishers are Agency.
So what happens? HarperCollins launches its own ebook sale. Several Avon romances are promotionally priced between $1.99 and $4.99. Yet, and more importantly, none of these non Sunshine Deal promotionally priced books seem to have made it onto the Kindle top 100. For example, Hachette has Laird of the Mist priced at $.99 but it’s Kindle ranking is 764. This may change but as of noon on Tuesday it had not.
Here’s what we can draw from this:
- Amazon has immense power in directing attention of its Kindle readers to the books it wants to highlight.
- Pricing alone isn’t driving success and discoverability, it’s placement on the Amazon site.
- Readers are really attracted to low priced books.
- Amazon can affect the price of even agency books, albeit indirectly.
Dan was also the one who noted that even Harlequin, a non agency priced publisher, was slowly losing market share for its higher priced books.
But the story is much different on the Romance genre bestseller lists. Since March 1, 2011, there has been a pronounced shift on both retailers’ Romance lists away from agency titles. Looking at the second chart, you can see that the average combined share of both lists for all agency publishers is halved, from roughly 30 to 15 titles in this period.
This drop may be mostly explained by the rise in the average price of agency titles on this list, including but not limited to Random House’s changes after March 1. One item of note is that Harlequin (not an agency-model publisher) has also slowly lost share of the list as its average price climbed over the past few weeks.
Read more at DigitalBookWorld.com: Ebook MarketView: Examining Agency-Model Publishers’ Share of Bestseller Lists | Digital Book World http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2011/ebook-marketview-examining-agency-model-publishers%e2%80%99-share-of-bestseller-lists/#ixzz1Obxoj2cW
PW has some answers about Amazon Montlake. Harlequin has sponsored free access for the month of June so hit the login button and hit the Free Access button in the new screen to read. The most interesting item was that it appeared Amazon is accepting agented submissions only. My sources say that Amazon is trying to steal away some big time authors to provide some instant credibility to its line.
Publishers might not only have Amazon Montlake to contend with. Over at the Kindle Boards, self published phenom, Selena Kitt, recounted the following exchange with an unknown BN rep:
4) Do they have plans to start up an ‘exclusive’ line like Amazon (with Montlake)?
They can’t say right now.
If BN does start up a digital publishing line, it has an experienced fiction editor working for it. Liz Scheier is the editorial director at Barnes and Noble. More importantly Scheier was a former senior editor at Random House/Ballantine and an editor at Penguin Group.
RWA is at the end of this month and as an organization they may have to face some huge changes. Mystery Writers have decided to loosen its guidelines and allow some ebook publishers and POD publishers on to the approved membership list.
New MWA e-Book Publisher Guidelines
During the preceding year, the publisher must have paid a minimum of $500 in advances and/or royalties to at least five authors with no financial or ownership interest in the company.
a) The publisher must have paid a minimum royalty of least 25% of net revenue to authors.
b) The royalties must have been paid at least quarterly, with a detailed statement, breaking out books sold through affiliate sites, through the publisher’s own site, as well as print books if applicable.
No self published authors are permitted.
Last week, amongst all the romance reader bashing (and this week it is YA bashing) author and misogynist VS Naipaul decided to foment debate by deriding female writers. He claimed to be able to tell a female from a male writer in one paragraph. So the Guardian set up a test. Have you taken it yet?