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Why Does Fiction Outsell Everything Else in Ebooks?

23 May 2011

Ebook best sellers are not the same as paper-based best sellers. Meredith Greene explores the question about why some genres outsell others in the ebook world.


After browsing the top ten eBook-purveying websites–including the Kindle Store–I sifted through the most popular titles being sold on each and compiled the following Top Ten Best-Selling eBook Genres list for 2011 Thus Far:

1. Romance Fiction
2. Thriller Fiction
3. Fiction stories with/about Weddings (Romance Fiction)
4. Paranormal Fiction
5. Fantasy Fiction
6. Historical Fiction
7. Detective/Spy Fiction
8. Techno Guides/ Manuals/ ____ for Dummies
9. Historical/ Biographical
10. Literary Fiction

. . . .

Soon after opening a web-based eBook store my husband and I found that folks that buy eBooks are largely uninterested in humor/memoirs, biographies or satire. Consumers wanted fiction–inexpensive fiction–and we set out on a five novel, three year experiment on whether or not simply adding a few fiction titles would increase our meager sales. It worked. Customer came, they saw and they purchased, emailing friends and family to do the same. With quite a bit of weekly work on my part to promote the titles in a non-invasive way the sites still pay for themselves and bring home a bit o’ bacon, despite the seemingly unending flow of new indie writers running to the market each month. Adding a few more titles in other genres helped our sales a little, but the romance fiction titles yet remain our best-sellers.

. . . .

I’ve witnessed eBooks being purchased as gifts, sought and routed out from the darkest corners of the net and given free, jubilant press simply for being rather well-written and purchase-able. In perusing lists of successful, selling-more-than-$1000-a-month-in-eBooks indie writers, nearly all the titles sold are fiction.

Link to the rest at Greene Ink

Bestsellers, Ebooks

2 Comments to “Why Does Fiction Outsell Everything Else in Ebooks?”

  1. A very interesting finding and I tried to comment on Margaret’s blog but got booted out! So I’m trying again here. I wanted to say that I’m not really surprised: fiction is (1) generally cheaper than non fiction in ebooks (so naturally will sell more) and (2) e-readers lend themselves perfectly well for a good fiction read but not for non-fiction which is often the kind of material you’d like to use as reference.

    And that works better with paper books: you can easily highlight them, go back a few pages to check something out, write in the margin, dog-ear them etc. E-reader technology may yet improve so that it becomes just as easy to engage in one’s “reference/indexing” activities, but we’re not thre yet!

    As to the ranking of genres, no surprise there: it starts with romance!

    • Claude – Another visitor here commented that she buys fiction ebooks and non-fiction paper books for many of the same reasons you do.

      What might be interesting is adding the capability to ebooks to print out a limited number of pages for annotation purposes. Kindles can receive email now. Perhaps they could email these pages for printing purposes.

      Piracy might be a concern, but it’s so easy to pirate the entire ebook, I don’t see this feature as a bigger hole in the dike.

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