EXTRA ETHER: DBW’s Best-Seller List

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing

UPDATE: I’m informed on Friday (August 24) that Digital Book World WILL begin adding authors’ names to its ebook listings in its new eBook Best-Seller List, starting Monday (August 27) with its second weekly release of the list. Glad to know that a whiff of our Ether here seems to have been inhaled.

Here is our original post.


 

All I’m askin’
Is for a little respect when you come home
(just a little bit)


Now, honey, you can find out more, just a little bit, about what ebooks mean to me and you with respect to the market, in a new and welcome ebook-only best-seller list from Digital Book World.

What you won’t find out? –who the authors are.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin PublishingThat’s #DBW to your tweetly neighbors, one of the verticals of F+W Media. And today, it’s inaugurating its interesting DBW eBook Best-Seller List, which keys into pricing as a way to evaluate what’s selling and for how much.

Each Monday, you’ll see not only the best-selling 25 ebooks, all told, of the previous week, but also the Top 10* in each of these price bands:

  • $10 and above
  • $8-$9.99 *We see a Top 8 in this band in the early look I’m being given, not 10, and that’s because only eight ebooks from the $8-$9.99 group placed in the Top 100 ebook best-sellers, from which these breakouts are drawn.
  • $3-$7.99
  • $0-$2.99

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing

An explanatory Digital Book World E-Book Best-Seller List Methodology Expert Blog entry is here from Iobyte Solutions’ Dan Lubart, who writes:

In the absence of real-time, raw sales numbers for all the retailers — which nobody has — we thought it best to address some of the problems with current e-book best-seller lists:

  • One-hit wonders
  • No differentiation between $0.99 e-books and $12.99 e-books
  • No accounting for which publishers are selling the most e-books

Jeremy Greenfield also has an overview, Agency Publishers and Pricing Top Debut DBW E-Book Best-Seller List, hitting high points of the list, “which measures the top-selling e-books across five of the largest e-booksellers.”

In her advance writeup on the new list, F+W’s Stacie Berger explains:

The list…aggregates the previous full week’s sales ranking data from Amazon, Nook, Google, Kobo and Sony…Price is a fundamental correlative to sales; reporting, tracking and analyzing pricing and its relationship to e-book sales is the primary objective of the weekly Digital Book World best-seller list.

As Sarah Weinman at Publishers Lunch notes in Digital Book World Launches Aggregated eBook Bestseller List, the methodology includes a proprietary DBW weighting of the five retailers’ market shares. Lubart’s methodology notes reference this:

Each retailer (is) weighted by approximate market share as determined by the editors of Digital Book World and Iobyte Solutions.

 

Even e-books have authors

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing

David Nussbaum

F+W CEO David Nussbaum gets it right in his quote for the news release:

“Because it is still a very young business, the entire channel — authors, agents, publishers, and consumers — need clear and focused information about best-sellers. We aim to provide that with our new DBW tool.”

Good to see authors mentioned in Nussbaum’s comment, right?

So it would be even better to see them listed with their works on the new DBW eBook Best-Seller List. That’s not happening, at least not in the advance copy of the debut list provided to the media.

While the digital dynamic and its pricing upheavals are gathering enough weight to warrant this kind of specialized attention, ebooks appear to be writing themselves. The Miracle at DBW, of course, is easily remedied, and probably the result of an oversight as the industry! the industry! learns new patterns of recognition.

The new list, with publishers properly attached to each entry, has much to commend it, and will be even more valuable when the inclusion of authors’ names brings it up alongside the author-inclusive lists of the New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, GalleyCat in its self-published best-seller lists, and others.

Whoa, babe (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)

Meanwhile, there are useful points to note in this week’s initial outing.

 

Four (actually three) of 25 under $3

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin PublishingIn the Top 25 overall list, you’ll find that four ebooks are listed as being sold for less than $3.

There’s a caveat coming on one of those four:

At No. 11: Deep Down: A Jack Reacher Story sells for $1.99 (at Ether time). It’s by Lee Child.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin PublishingAt No. 12The Boy in the Suitcase sells for $1.39. It has two authors, Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis.

At paidContentLaura Hazard Owen just posted one of her fine Friday  eBook Bestseller Breakdown analytical pieces on this one.

Her article will help you understand how it has reached such success.

At No. 20: This Is Where I LePorter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishingave You: A Novel, at Ether time shows a Kindle price of $12.99, although the DBW list sees it selling for $2.99.

Those darned algorithms strike again.

The author, at any price, is Jonathan Tropper.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin PublishingAt No. 25: Black Order (Sigma Force, Book 3) is listed as selling at 99 cents.

That agrees with the Kindle price we see listed at Ether time.

It’s by James Rollins.

 

 

Big Six Domination

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin PublishingAs Berger’s prepared material also points out — the Top 25 list includes only four ebooks not published by Big Six houses.

Those four are the three books in The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, from Scholastic. And there’s Kaaberbøl and Friis’ The Boy in the Suitcase mentioned above, which is published by Soho Press.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin PublishingIt appears the Fifty Shades of You Know What series by E.L James may be overtaken one ebook at a time.

The first ebook of that trilogy stands at No. 4 in the Top 25 ranking.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin PublishingGone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn taking the No. 3 spot.

Self-publishing enthusiasts may be concerned to note that only two self-published ebooks appear to figure into the various rankings in the first week’s outing for the DBW list.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin PublishingIn the Top 10 breakout for ebooks selling at $0 to $2.99, Sarah’s Surrender by Lynda Chase is ranked No. 5 on this breakout scale (No. 26 on the main list).

And Weekends Required by Sydney Landon is at No. 9 on this breakout (No. 30 on the main list).

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin PublishingThe listings for self-published authors do note those authors’ names, by the way, the notation taking the form of “Self: Lynda Chance” and “Self: Sydney Landon.”

In creating its new list, DBW acknowledges the guidance of:

 

Higher Prices Rule

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing

Author E.L. James’ Fifty Shades ebooks, at Nos. 1, 2, and 4 on the inaugural list, are priced at $9.99.

The real story in this first week’s release of the new list lies in the pricier ebooks.

The Top 25 is dominated not only by ebooks published by major houses but also by price points on the upper end.

I count 17 of the Top 25 selling at $9.99 or higher. Four more are priced between $5 and $7.99.

These rankings won’t gladden the eyes of publishing community members  who favor those ultra-low prices. But the value here is the data-based provision of this big picture by Iobyte Solutions. Even when the news isn’t what some want, clarity has its payoffs.

Porter Anderson, Writing on the Ether, Jane Friedman, author, publisher, agent, books, publishing, digital, ebooks, Deirdre Gogarty, Darrelyn Saloom, My Call to the Ring, Glasnevin Publishing

Author Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, at No. 3 in this week’s debut ebook list, sells for $12.99.

Those working in the self- and small-publishing fields of the industry may see new goals in the trends arrayed for us over weeks and months to come with the DBW list.

Authors who are studying the best routes for their projects — often a “hybrid” mix of traditional and non-traditional publishing — might find new direction in genre, price points, and staying power on these lists.

Whether the news is what you’d like it to be or something else, DBW has offered us a new tool, a new way to see how things are looking in the ebook market.

And for that — while eagerly watching for those authors’ credits — we can certainly show some respect.

| | |

What do you think? Is there value for you in the approach DBW’s new ebook best-seller list is taking? How would you account for the small number of low-priced ebooks in the Top 25? And how would you account for the overwhelming dominance of major houses’ ebooks on the list?

Join us Thursdays at JaneFriedman.com for Writing on the Ether, presented this week by Ether sponsors Deirdre Gogarty and Darrelyn Saloom, authors of My Call to the Ring:  A Memoir of a Girl Who Yearns to Box.

For the record: I’m a member of DBW, I contribute to its Expert Publishing Blog, and I work with F+W Media to cover its major conferences.

Main images: iStockphoto / lbd

Posted in Writing on the Ether.

Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) is a journalist and consultant in publishing. He's The Bookseller's (London) Associate Editor in charge of The FutureBook. He's a featured writer with Thought Catalog (New York), which carries his reports, commentary, and frequent Music for Writers interviews with composers and musicians. And he's a regular contributor of "Provocations in Publishing" with Writer Unboxed. Through his consultancy, Porter Anderson Media, Porter covers, programs, and speaks at publishing conferences and other events in Europe and the US, and works with various players in publishing, such as Library Journal's SELF-e, Frankfurt Book Fair's Business Club, and authors. You can follow his editorial output at Porter Anderson Media, and via this RSS link.

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WRITING ON THE ETHER: Quality Time | Jane FriedmanKathyPoolerJim HamlettPorter AndersonMarla Rose Brady Recent comment authors

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Darrelyn Saloom

I agree with @brentweeks and have a problem with selling well-crafted books for change found under couch cushions. After a book has recovered the publisher and author’s investment and has made a profit, it makes sense to offer a great deal to create a buzz and send it soaring to the top of a bestseller list. I believe @BobTarte did this recently with his book Enslaved by Ducks. But a new release after years of hard work? Have mercy people. Authors need to eat.

Porter Anderson

Hey, Darrelyn – I’m inclined to agree with you on this, although I worry that readers have begun to sense they’re in a what-the-traffic-will-bear market and expect the kind of down-pricing we’ve seen. In that regard the strong lead indicated on the new DBW lists by books at comparatively higher price points could be seen as heartening. If those are, in fact, doing better than almost all the less expensive ebooks, then maybe the drive to discount isn’t as compelling as it was, whether a Big Six / major house is behind a book or not. It’s very hard to… Read more »

AJ Sikes
AJ Sikes

Ditto me on Darrelyn’s comment. @brentweeks hit the nail on the head. It never occurred to me to sell anything I end up publishing for chump change, even when I saw a lot of buzz around the place that lower prices correlate with higher sales, more word of mouth, etc. I’ll take my chances asking for what my work is worth, thankyouverymuch. I always applaud efforts at data collection. We can’t form useful hypotheses without data, and we have a harder and riskier time of making decisions without hypotheses to support our choices. So, a big thumbs-up to DBW for… Read more »

Porter Anderson

Hi, Aaron, And yeah, it’s not uncommon among self-publishers to start with lower prices and see if they can establish a base before charging more. I have to say, however, that considering how many people seem to be jumping in with ultra-low pricing, the dominance of the higher-priced (Agency-priced) ebooks — even if they weren’t coming from the Big Six — would have to be daunting to anybody “racing to the bottom” on pricing. If, as we usually like to assume, the general consumer is largely unaware of such branding factors as Big Six vs. other publishers (or self-publishers), then… Read more »

Marla Rose Brady

Wow, thank you for sharing this. It puts into perspective how the market is working these days.

Porter Anderson

You bet, Marla, thanks for reading, and for dropping a note. In fact, the perspective may be surprising for some (the success of the upper-priced tiers, for example). We’re all learning, lol.

All the best,
-p.

Jim Hamlett

Porter, Porter. As everything else in the industry! the industry! these days, the DBW report has all the earmarks of good fiction. I’m with you on the “wait and see” approach. As a writer, I’m not enthused by all the low-balling on price, but this is the “price” of a free market. And speaking of free–now that giving them away is touted (and apparently proven by the stats) as a great way to boost real sales, why pay when you can just pay attention to the announcements of free stuff. The reader may not get exactly what they want, but… Read more »

Porter Anderson

Right on all points, Jim, and God knows the industry! the industry! has a lot of shaking down to do. I’ll just say, however, that what this first week’s round of stats shows us in the DBW list IS surprising. Putting Agency aside — let’s just say there’s never been a lawsuit about alleged collusion and price-fixing — we’re still presented with what appears to be surprisingly robust sales at a higher point than many of us would have expected. And per your note on using free giveaways to boost sales, I’d just caution you that even that technique is… Read more »

KathyPooler
KathyPooler

Such an unexpected development in the pricing points for eBooks,Porter. Thanks for the update.In a way, it is reassuring to think that ultra-low pricing may not have to be the only option. Of course, it always boils down to producing quality content. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.”The industry,the industry ” is changing so fast, you may be doing Daily Ethers before it’s over. (Just kidding!)

Porter Anderson

Daily Ethers! My career passes before my eyes, Kathy! 🙂 But yes, the entire conversation about ebook pricing may have changed with the arrival of this list’s revelations. More on Thursday in the “big” Ether. 🙂
Thanks for reading and commenting!
-p.

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