Writing as Adria Townsend and J. S. Laurenz

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Numbers Game

I was in touch with Bufo Calvin again who writes the I love my Kindle blog (http://ilmk.wordpress.com).  He has a unique perspective having been in the brick and mortar business of selling books.  He also has the ability, not just to crunch numbers, but to create a picture from raw data that the rest of us can see too.  I asked him if he is surprised by the number of books being added to the kindle collection now compared to this time last year.  I also asked him to weigh in on one of Amazon's latest moves, establishing the lending library which requires 3 months of exclusivity from its authors.  I'll let Bufo take it from here:  
"The number of books added per month hasn't changed a great deal. After February, we could do a comparison to the previous February, but let's look at January 2012 to February 2011:

February 2011
39,643 added

January 2012
41,868 added

However, there are fewer days in February than in January. When we look at average book added per day to the USA Kindle store, it's closer:

February 2011
1,416 average approximately

January 2012
1,351 average approximately

Am I surprised? A bit...I might have guessed that the rate of books being added would have noticeably accelerated in that time.

I would still suspect that at least two thirds of these are independently published. The Big Six American US trade publishers ( Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Group, and Holtzbrinck (which includes Macmillan) just don't publish that many in a month. 

There isn't enough data yet on the KOLL (Kindle Owners' Lending Library) to really evaluate its impact on authors yet. Some authors clearly benefit from it, according to Amazon's press release about the first month. You may find this post of mine helpful on that:

Exclusivity is a huge benefit, and worth a lot of effort. Amazon says that it has three main tenets; selection; price; and service. Price is getting very hard to leverage in the e-book world. The Agency Model books don't allow it, and independently published books are comparatively low-priced. A twenty percent discount on an $20 book has a bigger impact on sales than a twenty percent discount on a three dollar book. The costs of sale on a three dollar book aren't going to be less in ratio to the difference in price. In other words, three dollars is fifteen percent of twenty dollars. The costs of Customer Service, accounting, and so on, for a three dollar book aren't going to be only fifteen percent of those of a twenty dollar book. In fact, the Customer Service costs on independently publisher books may tend to be higher than on a traditionally published book: they often have more issues due to less of a development process (such as editing and proof-reading).

Since price becomes less of a factor, Amazon needs to increase their advantages on selection and service. Amazon does a lot of things to win on the service front (the seven day "return" policy on Kindle store books, for example...last time I checked, neither Barnes & Noble nor Sony allowed e-book returns at any time). Exclusivity is a way to tip the balance on selection."

Bufo Calvin's informative blog can be found at:
In related news, my brother-in-law just sent me an article from the January 30-February 5, 2012 Bloomsburg Businessweek entitled AMAZON WANTS TO BURN THE BOOK BUSINESS.  Thanks, Don!  While we Indies might have a preference for letters and want to keep our noses in (writing) a book, it's so important to be aware of the numbers. 

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