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Old 02-25-2014, 04:14 PM   #1
fjtorres
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Hugh Howey presents: Nook Author Earnings

Not much needs saying by now:
http://authorearnings.com/the-bn-report/

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In our first two reports, we concentrated on Amazon’s e-book sales. We analyzed the top 7,000 e-books in three bestselling genres [link]. Then we followed up with a look at all 54,000 ranked bestselling e-books on Amazon in a single day snapshot [link]. We now turn our attention to the next bestselling book and e-book retailer, Barnes & Noble. The methodology is the same. Barnes & Noble’s online store lists overall ranking for their e-books, and as with Amazon, current rank generally correlates with daily sales.1 We determined sales rates based on the sales of our own books and from data gathered from other authors. In all cases, the rates we collected were within 20% of each other. Adjusting rates even beyond this margin of error does not alter the percentages of market share shown in our pie charts — it simply adjusts the overall size of the pie.

Last year, Barnes & Noble reported that 25% of the Nook market was made up of self-published works [link]. We were curious to see if this meant 25% of the bestselling titles were self-published, 25% of the sales came from self-published e-books, or if self-published e-book sales accounted for 25% of the gross dollar market. As always, our primary concern here is where authors are doing better, sale for sale. It doesn’t help authors to say that 70% of the book market is in print if only a small fraction of that money ends up in authors’ pockets [link]. What we want to see is the combined effect of royalty rate, sales volume, and sale price. These three factors combine to give us a true picture of comparative earnings, as shown in our pie charts.
Basically: no, it's not just Amazon.

But, since this is B&N, there are caveats:

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There are two reported issues with the e-book rankings on B&N.com that we feel obliged to point out. The first is reports that Barnes & Noble leases top spots on its charts to major publishers, much as it merchandises books in favorable positions in its stores. The second issue is that indie authors writing in the romance and erotica genres have reported suppressed ranking due to the covers or content of their works. If either of these issues are at play in our data, they would cause our graphs to err in favor of Big 5 publishers, as merchandised books would count for more than they ought to and suppressed self-published books would account for less. Our conclusions are only strengthened if such manipulation is taking place, which is why we are comfortable reporting our findings without taking them into account. As can be seen in the charts above, self-published authors can afford to give up advantages wherever possible while still coming out on top.

Last edited by fjtorres; 02-25-2014 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 02-25-2014, 05:44 PM   #2
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From the article:

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Here at Barnes & Noble, just as with Amazon, best-selling indie content is better rated on average than best-selling traditionally published content. Our initial speculation about price correlating to average review score has since been disproven by others, who looked at our data more closely. We may be left with the conclusion that self-published works are outselling every other publisher by dint of readers simply liking them better.
I think this is jumping to a conclusion too soon. Readers may be reviewing the books with a bias in effect in favor of self-published books, or rate them higher due to surprise in quality of content, for example. I don't think we can make a connection between high ratings and high sales in this case.

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The second issue is that indie authors writing in the romance and erotica genres have reported suppressed ranking due to the covers or content of their works.
I had no idea this occurred, but it makes sense. Most other marketplaces would say, "get that content somewhere else" if it becomes a visibility issue, but eReader-tied stores have to maintain the front that they are the end-all-be-all store. Why complain about DRM and lock-in when you don't need to go anywhere else? Too bad there's a huge erotica market that your company may not want to associate with...so they push it to the back of their store and assume the stream of users who want it will find it.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:02 PM   #3
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B&N has stated 25% of ebooks sold have been self-published. Howey figures 30%. That's relatively close.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Fbone View Post
B&N has stated 25% of ebooks sold have been self-published. Howey figures 30%. That's relatively close.
That was a year ago.
Since then it might have inched up.

Interestingly, the percentage might have gone up *because* of the defections to Apple and Kobo; for all the Nook ebookstore issues, they do have a deeper indie catalog than Apple and Kobo. Apple in particular leans more strongly traditionalist than even B&N.
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Old 02-26-2014, 12:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Fbone View Post
B&N has stated 25% of ebooks sold have been self-published. Howey figures 30%. That's relatively close.
1) That was reported on April 9, 2013 by B&N. More than 10 months ago. Things might have increased since then, especially since B&N wrote that "Customer demand for great independent content continues to dramatically increase."

2) The 25% sales figure is for all ebooks sales on Nook. The Authorearnings reports only genre fiction. Granted, romance, scifi/fantasy, mystery/thriller probably have huge market share of the overall ebook sales. 69% at Amazon according to the Data Guy.

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Old 03-01-2014, 10:09 AM   #6
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From the article:



I think this is jumping to a conclusion too soon. Readers may be reviewing the books with a bias in effect in favor of self-published books, or rate them higher due to surprise in quality of content, for example. I don't think we can make a connection between high ratings and high sales in this case.

Yeah, I think that is jumping to a conclusion that isn't supported. I think indie authors (myself included) work really hard at getting reviews FROM ANYWHERE. Trad authors often submit to the known big ones or their publishers do. I'll take ANY honest review I can get from "little blog" to "guy I met on the forum who offered." If I thought my cats could spell, I'd make them do a review.

That's not to say that some trad authors don't work really hard to get them, but on the margin, indies are out there actively encouraging it, sometimes giving out random prizes for those writing reviews (I don't necessarily agree with such a procedure, but I see it done).

It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that Amazon and B&N sell "he bought, she bought" placement and/or various "show up" based on ranking or even using the spots as ads. It wouldn't even be false advertising if the "he bought/she bought" were really true for even a single purchase/reader.
They are in the business to make money, after all.
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Old 03-01-2014, 01:28 PM   #7
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It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that Amazon and B&N sell "he bought, she bought" placement and/or various "show up" based on ranking or even using the spots as ads. It wouldn't even be false advertising if the "he bought/she bought" were really true for even a single purchase/reader.
They are in the business to make money, after all.
B&N has been reported to sell preferential placement at their web site and reader home screens to BPHs and to downgrade certain genre indie titles in the rankings.
Amazon has been lambasted publicly by several traditionalist mouthpieces for *refusing* to marginalize indie titles in favor of the BPHs.

Beyond that I haven't seen any credible reports on either vendor's placement practices, though there appears to be a lot of whining over the Amazon alsobot algorithms.

One thing I have yet to hear gripes over is Amazon First.
Odd, considering Amazon buys the books from themselves on behalf of prime subscribers and count those sales in the rankings.
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Old 03-01-2014, 01:50 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
B&N has been reported to sell preferential placement at their web site and reader home screens to BPHs and to downgrade certain genre indie titles in the rankings.
Amazon has been lambasted publicly by several traditionalist mouthpieces for *refusing* to marginalize indie titles in favor of the BPHs.

Beyond that I haven't seen any credible reports on either vendor's placement practices, though there appears to be a lot of whining over the Amazon alsobot algorithms.

One thing I have yet to hear gripes over is Amazon First.
Odd, considering Amazon buys the books from themselves on behalf of prime subscribers and count those sales in the rankings.
Oh, I am sure they manipulate the he bought/she boughts--it's a matter of whether they take paid placement. I would imagine their own published books get preferential treatment. It only makes sense. It's a matter of HOW MUCH and how obvious it is. If I owned a company and sold my books and someone elses, I wouldn't want to be obvious about it, but I'd certainly want to push my own books when possible or when there was a "matching" opportunity. I'm sure Amazon does it. Why wouldn't they? Perhaps that is why no one talks about it. It's just understood they are doing it? And complaining isn't likely to gain a thing. They own the platform. They own the marketing. No one ever claimed it was fair. And it says "he bought/she bought" not MOST OFTEN or any other such claim.
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