Christmas 2010 was another great one for e-books. The third incarnation of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader officially became their bestselling product ever (according to them anyway – it seems they have a fear of publishing numbers), e-publishing sites like Kobo rushed to tell us that they’d had a record year (again, without numbers) and Amazon announced a very complicated sounding way of loaning Kindle books. This time last year I was playing with the Kindle I’d bought my mother for Christmas but, twelve months on, it was a very different experience for me, what with an e-book of my own on sale…
A Christmas Day screenshot of my Amazon.co.uk Kindle rankings. Some weird categories in there (Children’s Books?!) but I’ll take what I can get!
Books have always had a surge towards the end of the year but now that surge has an epilogue: from Christmas Eve onwards, e-book sales go through the roof. Amazon’s Kindle is their most-gifted product ever and apparently lots of you got them and other e-readers from Santa this year, because Mousetrapped sales went a bit mental.
While there was a spike in print copies in the lead up to Christmas, starting December 24th e-books went off on a course of their own. I’ve averaged about 180 sales per month since September but in December I sold 411 books. Of these, 365 were e-books and of those, 203 were sold between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve alone. And that is only e-book sales from Amazon Kindle’s US and UK stores – I won’t know how I did on the Sony’s, Barnes and Noble’s, Kobo’s or Diesel’s stores until Smashwords updates my sales data in a month or two’s time. 411 books is about what I sold in my first five months of sales, so that’s a pretty significant bump. Thank you, New E-Reader Owners!
In the third of today’s self-congratulatory image inserts, it’s just three Bill Brysons, a Rough Guide to NYC and Little Me in the Top 5 Amazon.co.uk Kindle Travel: United States Bestsellers (5th January 2011). Not bad company, eh?
All Hail Joe Konrath
The King of Self-Published E-books – and former traditionally published author – is now selling 1,000 e-books a day and making a small fortune in the process ($22,000 last month, I kid you not). He shared this heart-warming bed time story for would be e-book self-publishers which I love even though it contains frequent occurrences of my least favorite self-publishing-related word, gatekeepers.
On a related note, some of you may be wondering why I happily gush over my sales figures when Konrath is selling 1,000 e-books a day and collecting cheques for $22,000, and I’m on a scale of about 100th of that. Three reasons: (i) I’m happy to sell anything, (ii) Konrath is at the very, very top of the e-book game, so it’s like comparing your sales to that of JK Rowling’s, or James Patterson’s, or Stephen King’s, and (iii) all the big e-book sellers write fiction and have several books available. I wrote a niche-ish non-fiction, and I only have one title for sale. So I’ll take whatever I can get and be happy with it.
The Great E-Book Pricing Debate: An Insight
In other mildly related news, this piece by Paul Cornell told me something I didn’t know about the price of hardcover books and explained for me in a few sentences why we have such a gulf in e-book pricing between “Big Publishing” and self-published authors, i.e. the ones who are actually selling huge numbers of (low-priced!) e-books. I get it now.
Publishers have always thought that when you buy a hardback, what you’re paying more for is the chance to own it on the day of publication. Paperbacks are cheaper because they come out a year later. The reading public, on the other hand, always thought what they were paying more for was the extra physical mass and quality. (Actually, a hardback costs, one publisher told me, only from 50p to a couple of pounds more to make.) So obviously publishers think an e-book, out on the day of publication, should cost the same as a hardback. And obviously the reading public think it should cost less than a paperback. From this difference in perception stem all subsequent horrors.
I’m Still Not Reading Them
I still don’t like e-books. I know I shouldn’t say this as a self-published author who can thank e-books for 80% of her sales, but I still haven’t read a full length e-book, even though my iPhone has about four or five titles on there that would have been read long ago if they had once been trees. I have read a couple of samples while waiting in unexpected queues, but e-books remain my Break Open in Case of Emergency reading material.
A Kindle is a great gift to get for Christmas, but I had my own fun. A pair of beautiful bookends that need actual books to go in between them. JFK in Ireland by Ryan Tubridy, a beautifully designed book filled with pictures; the e-book could well have had the Zapruder film embedded and on auto-play, but moving pictures are for TV. Christmas Eve morning, a surprise hardcover came through the door with a lovely note. Would I have been as excited to receive an email with an attached pdf? Hardly.