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Old 12-04-2011, 11:59 AM   #1
mattlynn
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What People Actually Read

If you look at the Kindle chart and the traditional charts, you’ll notice something quite interesting. They aren’t at all similar. The UK Kindle chart today is topped by Phil Rickman, who is hardly a household name, followed by Damon Galgut and Kerry Wilkinson. The physical chart is led by the latest Wimpy Kid, followed by Jamie Oliver, Lee Evans and Michael Connolly.

Why is that, I wonder? After all, these are all books. Of course you can probably discount Wimpy Kid and Jamie Oliver. Most kids don’t have e-readers yet and cookbooks aren’t a natural for the Kindle. Even so, if you look at the Kindle charts, the ‘big authors’ don’t do so well. PD James and Kathryn Stockett are in the Top 10 and Patricia Cornwell in the Top 20. But heavily hyped writers like James Paterson don’t really do that well. In my own corner of the market, military adventure, I don’t sell as well as Chris Ryan and Andy McNab in the bookshops, but on Kindle I am regularly out-selling them.

One reason might be that the Kindle audience is slightly different from the mainstream audience. It is probably slightly more male – hence the number of thrillers in the chart – and a bit more techie. It may also be more adventurous in its taste.

But the real reason, I suspect, is because it is a much more level playing field. Some books get more push than others online of course. But going into the Kindle store is nothing like going into a bookshop, and nothing at all like the books section of a supermarket. The choice is vast, there are no in-your-face promotions, and word-of-mouth (in the form of reader reviews) is everywhere.

So what we see on the Kindle chart may well be a far better guide to what people actually want to read. I’m not sure the publishers have quite realised that yet though.
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:14 PM   #2
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Not sure if that's the case. Books in stores still reach a far larger audience. eBooks still only account for a very small part of the overall market, so I'd say sales in stores are still where you'd get the best idea of what is popular. However, I think it's interesting, b/c it's a pretty good gage at what kindle readers are reading, and it makes you wonder about the demographics for people who buy eBooks.

It's quite fascinating, really. It's a great time to be an author - lots of options for publishing - but even more so, it's a great time to be a reader.
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:27 PM   #3
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I just checked my Amazon downloads and noticed, as usual, that there are three times more UK downloads than US downloads. I have absolutely no idea why that is.
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattlynn View Post
But the real reason, I suspect, is because it is a much more level playing field. Some books get more push than others online of course. But going into the Kindle store is nothing like going into a bookshop, and nothing at all like the books section of a supermarket. The choice is vast, there are no in-your-face promotions, and word-of-mouth (in the form of reader reviews) is everywhere.
I'm going to be a cynic and say it has to do with pricing as well. The "bigger" authors seem to me to cost more than lesser known ones do. And by that I mean, the ones who get front billing in a book store, and big marketing campaigns. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in thinking that by the time an eBook costs me as much as a hard back, I might as well buy the hard back. Especially since I can share that with my husband, and give it away if I don't like it, while that would be illegal or at least EULA-breaking, with an eBook.

So I'm not sure that the Kindle sales charts accurately reflect what people in general actually want to read, at least not yet. But they definitely reflect what Kindle owners want to read, and there's a good chance that is different from what non-Kindle owners like and want.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:05 PM   #5
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Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb here, and admit that I buy a lot of stuff on Kindle that I'd be embarrassed to be seen reading on the bus. Also, I'll take chances on e-books that I won't on paperbooks.

But there's another factor here. When I go into a bookshop, there are usually only a small number of novels that I'd particularly want to read. When I go to the Kindle store, my only limit is how much time I have to read them.
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Old 12-11-2011, 10:54 AM   #6
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I'm not saying this is true, just raising it as a point for consideration. Free and low-cost ebooks make it easy to turn into a book hoarder, which isn't quite the same thing as a book reader. The book charts are a measure of distribution, not necessarily of readership.
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Old 12-11-2011, 11:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattlynn View Post
If you look at the Kindle chart and the traditional charts, you’ll notice something quite interesting. They aren’t at all similar. The UK Kindle chart today is topped by Phil Rickman, who is hardly a household name, followed by Damon Galgut and Kerry Wilkinson. The physical chart is led by the latest Wimpy Kid, followed by Jamie Oliver, Lee Evans and Michael Connolly.

Why is that, I wonder? After all, these are all books. Of course you can probably discount Wimpy Kid and Jamie Oliver. Most kids don’t have e-readers yet and cookbooks aren’t a natural for the Kindle. Even so, if you look at the Kindle charts, the ‘big authors’ don’t do so well. PD James and Kathryn Stockett are in the Top 10 and Patricia Cornwell in the Top 20. But heavily hyped writers like James Paterson don’t really do that well. In my own corner of the market, military adventure, I don’t sell as well as Chris Ryan and Andy McNab in the bookshops, but on Kindle I am regularly out-selling them.

One reason might be that the Kindle audience is slightly different from the mainstream audience. It is probably slightly more male – hence the number of thrillers in the chart – and a bit more techie. It may also be more adventurous in its taste.

But the real reason, I suspect, is because it is a much more level playing field. Some books get more push than others online of course. But going into the Kindle store is nothing like going into a bookshop, and nothing at all like the books section of a supermarket. The choice is vast, there are no in-your-face promotions, and word-of-mouth (in the form of reader reviews) is everywhere.

So what we see on the Kindle chart may well be a far better guide to what people actually want to read. I’m not sure the publishers have quite realised that yet though.
I must respectfully disagree: I suspect the reason is price. You say that your books outsell Andy McNab's; would I be right in guessing that your books are cheaper than Mr. McNab's? If you're selling a book for 99p, and Mr. McNab's books are selling for £5.99, many people will buy your book even if (no insult intended) they've never heard of you.
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