From Author Earnings:
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. Let’s see what our spider gathered as it snared 5,400 of Barnes & Noble’s top genre e-books in its digital web:
Just as we saw in Amazon’s store, indie titles make up a very large percentage of the bestseller lists. More than half, in fact.
Indie titles make up almost a third of Barnes & Noble’s e-book sales as well. The extent to which self-published content dominates Barnes & Noble’s e-book store is even more starkly apparent when the market shares of the Big-5 publishers are shown individually, rather than lumped together:
The Big-5 publishers still rake in the lion’s share of Barnes & Noble publisher dollars, as shown below:
However, publisher revenue is far less meaningful to authors than authorrevenue. And in Barnes & Noble’s e-book store, just as in Amazon’s case, we see that indie authors and small publishers are earning almost as much as all of the Big-5 combined:
. . . .
Far from being an Amazon-only or Amazon-created phenomenon, the market dominance of indie authors can also be seen here at the second-largest e-book retailer, Barnes & Noble. As some have opined, this reflects a much larger consumer-driven economic reality at work. Retailers and industry middlemen no longer dictate to readers what they should be reading. Readers now vote with their wallets, and everywhere we have thus far looked with our spider, readers are choosing self-published works at a higher rate than those by any other publishing entity.
. . . .
Publishing’s print retailers, print providers, and other businesses in the print supply chain clearly have reason to expand and simplify print distribution options for self-published authors. By doing so, they can increase their profitability and ability to serve consumers, while giving consumers the full range of quality content they demand. In fact, looking at the above chart might give Barnes & Noble a reason to reach out to indies for merchandising opportunities, and also to readers in order to promote these works.
. . . .
[A]t 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.
Link to the rest at Author Earnings
PG says, given the generally poor placement of indie books on the Nook Store and its poor search capabilities, it’s interesting that indie book sales patterns for the Nook are so similar to those on Amazon.
The Author Earnings report also raises the widely-circulating, but never confirmed (at least to PG’s knowledge) report that the Nook Store sells top spots on its bestseller lists to Big Publishing’s books.
PG hasn’t commented on the paid bestseller spots before, but, if the reports are true, it reflects one of the dominant reasons why Nook is losing so badly to Amazon.
Customers, particularly online customers, particularly heavy readers, use bestseller lists to help them locate books they will like.
A customer-centric organization would never tamper with bestseller lists because doing so would not improve the customer’s shopping experience and satisfaction. If a customer is less likely to find a book he/she likes, that customer is less likely to buy in the first place, to return as often as he/she would if the store made it easier to locate desirable books or to return at all.
Smart ecommerce companies treat customer visits like gold. They never want to waste a single visit or send a customer away unsatisfied.
However, Barnes & Noble is a creature closely tied to Big Publishing and in Big Publishing, you can work your way onto the New York Times and Barnes & Noble bestseller lists without actually outselling books that aren’t listed. In Big Publishing, what’s best for the customer takes a backseat to generating cash in pay-for-play schemes.
One of the behaviors of traditional publishing that never fails to puzzle PG, regardless of how often he sees it, is that publishers don’t treat authors as exceptionally valuable partners – customers for publishing services, if you will.
Sweet talk often ends as soon as the forever publishing contract is signed. Marketers treat authors like cheap labor with clueless social media exercises. Authors are constantly blamed for poor sales regardless of the failings of the publisher. Royalty reports are a semi-annual insult, not just for the size of the royalty payment, but also for the impenetrable mass of numbers designed to obscure, not enlighten.
On the other hand, Kindle Direct Publishing explicitly regards indie authors as customers for its epublishing platform.
When customer-centric organizations compete with those which aren’t, guess who wins?
Here’s a hint: What would happen if the Seattle Seahawks played the Bayonne High School Bees?