Amazon Can’t Cage ‘The Goldfinch’ Publisher

25 August 2014

From The Wall Street Journal:

Donna Tartt’s novel “The Goldfinch” opens with a series of gloomy scenes—a museum bombing, the death of the narrator’s mother, and the theft of a 17th–century painting. The word admirers often use to describe it is “Dickensian.”

But the book has brought only good news to publisher Hachette Book Group, giving the publisher a much-needed boost this summer as it weathers the fallout from a lengthy e-book contract dispute with Inc.

“The Goldfinch” has been on the New York Times’ best-seller list for 43 weeks since publication last October. Its staying power has translated into sales of 583,000 hardcover copies, according to Nielsen BookScan, although total hardcover sales have now likely topped 600,000 including sales not measured by Nielsen.

That’s a hit by any standard, and would have put it on Publishers Weekly’s top 10 list for best-selling fiction in hardcover for all of 2013.

. . . .

[T]he dispute [with Amazon] hasn’t crippled the publisher. The Hachette Book Group generated about €226 million ($300 million) in the U.S. and Canada in the first half of the year, up 5.6% compared with the same period of 2013, according a filing made by French parent Lagardère SCA. Among the factors Lagardère cited for the gain were sales of “The Goldfinch” and “The Silkworm,” written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Hachette fiction best sellers this summer include new titles by James Patterson, Elin Hilderbrand, David Baldacci, as well as Ms. Rowling’s work, which published in mid-June. Those four authors also wrote best sellers that Hachette published in the summer of 2013. But a difference-maker this season has been “The Goldfinch,” which ranked No. 5 on the New York Times hardcover fiction best-seller list in the issue of the Book Review dated Aug. 31.

. . . .

And unlike many new Hachette titles caught in the crossfire of the e-book dispute, “The Goldfinch” is being offered at a significant discount on Amazon. As of Sunday the online retailer was selling the hardcover edition for $18, a 40% discount from the cover price, and shipping it immediately. The Kindle e-book was priced at $6.99. Both were cheaper than the same editions offered at Barnes & Noble’s online store.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Kindle Unlimited Titles Off the DBW Ebook Best-Seller List

30 July 2014

From Digital Book World:

Kindle Unlimited’s effect on the best-seller list has indeed grown.

Kindle Unlimited titles have been removed from the Digital Book World Ebook Best-Seller list due to an inability to sort out retail purchases from Kindle Unlimited “reads” when creating the list.

After discussing several possibilities with Amazon as to how to include titles that had robust sales but also had reads on the new ebook subscription platform counted toward Amazon Kindle sales ranking, no solution was found.

. . . .

If “reads,” where the user isn’t paying to purchase a book each time, are counted toward best-seller rankings on the Kindle list and they are unable to be separated out from regular purchases, then it would be unfair to include those titles on the list.

Had those titles been included, they would have elevated several Amazon Publishing, self-published and back-list ebooks onto the best-seller list, including MockingjayThe GiverRhett by J.S. Cooper,Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and more.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Richard for the tip.


How Kindle Unlimited Is Changing the Amazon Kindle Best-Seller List

24 July 2014

From Digital Book World:

Kindle Unlimited is minting best-sellers.

According to Publishers Lunch, the number of ebooks on the Kindle best-seller list that are Kindle Unlimited titles has just about tripled since the launch of the all-you-can-read service from Amazon last week. Amazon is counting Kindle Unlimited reads as well as Kindle store sales in its best-seller rankings.

Last week at this time, there were 15 ebooks that would have been part of Kindle Unlimited that were top 100 best-sellers on Kindle; this week, that number has ballooned to 45.

. . . .

As the chart shows, Amazon Publishing titles (which are in Kindle Unlimited), titles by other publishers included in the service, and Kindle Direct Publishing Select titles (those by self-published authors who only sell on Amazon and not other platforms like Nook and iBooks, which are included on KU), seem to have all benefited greatly from being a part of Kindle Unlimited. Books by self-published authors who aren’t exclusive to Amazon and those from publishers not participating in Kindle Unlimited have suffered — at least when it comes to hitting top-100 Kindle best-sellers.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Self-Publishing’s Share of the Kindle Market by Genre

9 May 2014

From author Edward W. Robertson:

I’ve taken a quick whack at looking at what percentage of Kindle ebook sales self-publishers represent by genre. To get there, I simply look at the top 100 bestsellers in each genre—romance, mystery/thriller/suspense, science fiction, and fantasy—and split them up by method of publication. Note that, unlike the Author Earnings study, this is merely a breakdown of the raw number of self-published titles on the bestseller lists, not the number of total book sales within each genre.

Also, instead of five categories of publisher, I use four: self-published, small/medium press, Amazon Publishing, and Big 5 (including, where appropriate, major genre publishers like Harlequin and Baen).

. . . .


Self-published: 49%
Small/medium: 11%
Amazon: 9%
Big 5/Harlequin: 30%


Self-published: 11%
Small/medium: 5%
Amazon: 16%
Big 5: 68%


Self-published: 56%
Small/medium: 9%
Amazon: 5%
Big 5 (plus Baen): 30%

Self-published: 49%
Small/medium: 7%
Amazon: 7%
Big 5: 37%

. . . .

[T]his is just a look at the top 100 in each genre out of hundreds of thousands of total books. It’s quite possible, perhaps even likely, that a broader look at the data would present different trends. However, it does match up well with the Author Earnings study of these genres combined, so I’m not sure a bigger sample would be that much different.

Link to the rest at Edward W. Robertson and thanks to Mike for the tip.

Tess Gerritsen Sues Warner Bros. Over ‘Gravity’

1 May 2014

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Best-selling author Tess Gerritsen is suing Warner Bros. with the allegation that its blockbuster film, Gravity, is derived from her 1999 book by the same name.

The complaint filed in California federal court on Tuesday doesn’t allege copyright infringement. Instead, it’s a contract claim stemming from a film option she sold when the book was released. Gerritsen’s book is described as featuring “a female medical doctor/astronaut who is stranded alone aboard a space station after a series of disasters kill the rest of the crew.”

. . . .

A company called Katja picked up film rights to herGravity book for $1 million. Additionally, she was promised that if a film “based on” her book was made, she would receive a $500,000 production bonus, screen credit and, maybe most importantly, 2.5 percent of defined net proceeds. Last year’s film — which won seven Oscars — grossed more than $700 million worldwide, putting potentially a lot at stake in the new lawsuit.

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter and thanks to Glinda for the tip.

PG hopes “defined net proceeds” are well-defined for Gerritsen. The general rule for movie deals is always get a piece of the gross because there aren’t ever any net profits from movies.

Ebook Publisher Power Rankings: Top 10 Publishers of Q1 2014

23 April 2014

From Digital Book World:

The DBW Ebook Best-Seller Power Rankings is a list of publishers whose ebooks have appeared on the weekly DBW Ebook Best-Seller list. The publishers are listed in order depending on how many appearances their titles made on the ebook best-seller list on a week-to-week basis.

. . . .

[For Q1, 2014]

Rank Publisher Appearances  No. 1 Best-Sellers 
1 Penguin Random House 122                                      0
2 HarperCollins 67                                    10
3 Hachette 42                                      1
4 Amazon 30                                      1
5 (tie) Simon & Schuster 12                                      0
5 (tie) Self-published 12                                      0
7 Scholastic 7                                      0
8 Macmillan 4                                      0
9 Harlequin 2                                      0
10 (tie) Kensington Books 1                                      0
10 (tie) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 1                                      0

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

700-page book by French economist is Amazon’s top seller

21 April 2014

From CNN Money:

A 700-page economics tome about income inequality isn’t an obvious hit, but it currently tops the list of best-selling books on Amazon.

Thomas Piketty’s book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” was originally written by the 42-year old French economics professor in French, and then translated to English.

Amazon is sold out of the book, which is now in its fourth printing. Publisher Harvard University Press says it’s already sold 41,000 copies of “Capital,” and is rushing to get another 25,000 print versions to book stores and Amazon as soon as possible. The book is the publisher’s first best seller, and is poised to sell more copies in one year than any book in its 101-year history.

. . . .

In the book, Piketty argues that income inequality is getting more severe, and that governments must do more to address the issue. He cites detailed tax data from across many developed nations.

Link to the rest at CNN Money and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

PG checked just before posting this and the book was still #1 – Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Firm That Helps Authors Buy Their Way Onto Bestseller Lists Goes Into Stealth Mode

20 April 2014

From Forbes:

For years, it was an open secret in the book publishing industry that any author willing to spend enough money could nab a spot on the major bestseller by engaging the services of a company called Result Source Inc. Now that secret is a little less open.

A few weeks ago, the San Diego-based firm quietly scrubbed most evidence of its existence from the web. Its website, which previously contained numerous case studies describing the many campaigns it has executed for authors, has been reduced to a bare-bones landing page with a logo and a contact form.

. . . .

Curiously, all this comes more than a year after an expose in the Wall Street Journal revealed Result Source’s business model for what it is: Basically, the company requires authors to make bulk purchases of their own books, then breaks those orders up into small increments to make them look like organic retail sales. For this service, authors or their publishers pay tens of thousands of dollars, on top of the cost of the books whose purchases Result Source launders. The total price tag can approach $250,000.

WSJ’s reporting prompted a strong response from Amazon, which declared that it would no longer do business with Result Source. Yet according to the Wayback Machine, which takes historical snapshots of websites, Result Source’s full website was still online as recently as Feb. 3, 2014.

. . . .

The timing suggests it has to do with a scandal that’s been unfolding in the evangelical community over the past six months. Result Source started out as a marketing firm catering to Christian authors, and they still make up a large part of its client roster. Several well-known pastors, including Steven Furtick, Mark Driscoll and Perry Noble, have recently been accused of using their congregations’ funds to pay for bestseller campaigns.

. . . .

Duncan and others have floated the idea that the IRS should get involved, arguing that the pastors in question have been exploiting their churches’ nonprofit status for personal enrichment.

. . . .

All of this seems to have led Result Source to the belated realization that everything it does makes everyone involved look pretty bad.

Link to the rest at Forbes and thanks to Randall for the tip.

Here’s a link to what Result Source looks like today and what it looked like in February of this year (sort of).

Self-Published Ebook Jumps to No. 1 on Best-Seller List, Dethrones Divergent

9 April 2014

From Digital Book World:

Divergent is this year’s runaway top best-selling ebook in the U.S. — but it’s not the best-selling ebook this week. (In the UK, at the London Book Fair, the buzz around HarperCollins is about why Divergent is selling comparatively well abroad.)

The juggernaut has been stopped and sits at No. 2 on the Digital Book World Ebook Best-Seller list, making way for The Fixed Trilogy Bundle, a collection of titles by self-published author Laurelin Paige.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

What’s wrong with buying your way onto the bestseller list?

21 March 2014

From MacGregor Literary:

Last week I made a point of saying that I think a guy who buys his way onto the bestseller lists is a weasel, and I had a bunch of people write to ask me why. This is a worthwhile topic for everyone in publishing.

. . . .

Until last week, when it was revealed that Rev. Driscoll had paid a marketing firm, ResultSource, more than $200,000 to get his book onto the New York Time bestseller list. The scheme included hiring people to purchase 6000 copies of the book in bookstores, then ordering another 5000 copies in bulk. They even made sure to use more than 1000 different payment methods, so BookScan couldn’t track all the purchases back to a single source. In other words, they cheated to manipulate the system, got the book onto the list (for that one week), and did it so that Driscoll can refer to himself as “a New York Times bestselling author.”

I was critical of him for doing it, since I don’t think gaming the system is the right thing to do. It’s unfair. It’s lazy. It’s dishonest. And it’s basically nothing more than rampant egotism. But I had several people write to me, or post on Facebook, that this is common practice. A couple people said “everybody is doing it,” and some claimed “publishers are doing that all the time.”

. . . .

Are the bestseller lists rigged? Perhaps, to a small degree — certainly Amazon seems to include an inordinate number of their own titles on the Amazon bestseller lists, and occasionally we’ll all be surprised at how a book with modest sales somehow wound up on a bestseller list because of the strange (and secret) way some of them account for the books. But for the most part, the books showing up on the lists are there because of sales. Honest, straightforward sales. Sometimes we get shocked when a crappy book (say, for example, Fifty Shades of Gray) suddenly starts showing up everywhere — but it showed up because, in spite of the boring story and fourth-grade writing ability, the book SOLD. Like it or not, that book wasn’t snuck onto a list dishonestly.

Link to the rest at MacGregor Literary

PG is inclined to think that, if one or more companies offer to place a book onto the NYT, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, those bestseller lists are gamed on a regular basis.

Does any business maintain 1,000 different payment mechanisms and have the ability to hire people to buy copies of a book in 5,000 different stores just for a once-in-a-while bestseller campaign?

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