Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Times it is a-changin'

by Michael

While it was certainly inevitable, since the Times seems to love to add to its bestseller lists (14 and counting!), last night's news about the addition of an e-book bestseller list came as a bit of a surprise. It's interesting to note that in the announcement, Janet Elder, editor of news surveys and election analysis, says that the Times has been creating the e-book tracking system for two years. That's serious investment in time and money on their part. They also mention that they'll be partnering with RoyaltyShare, a company that tracks all sorts of digital downloads and actually got its start in the music business.

It'll be interesting to see what this list looks like when it debuts. How similar will it be to what's selling well on the Kindle platform? Will we see more clearly the effects of the agency model on e-book sales? Will the exclusion of certain publishers from Apple's iBookstore hamper their sales? And how many books will appear both on the e-list and the hardcover or non-fiction lists? How many children's titles will show up on the e-list? Will a Harry Potter-sized smash force the creation of a children's e-list? Could I possibly ask another question?

Seriously, this is a major development in e-book publishing, and I eagerly await the publication of that first list. Do you, as readers and writers, care?


  1. I saw this announcement in the Times earlier this week. I'm very interested in seeing what the owners of e-readers are buying, especially since I can't make them out when they're reading on the train.

    And I'm putting my money on the bet that there will be more questions from Michael. Looking forward to them.

  2. I'm sure there'll be a lot of overlap on the lists, but yeah, I'm curious about what people are buying the most of electronically. Like will erotica be on the list? Category romance? Edgy teen fiction?

    Speaking of which, I'm curious how many teens out there own e-readers. Any statistics available?

  3. That is really interesting. It will be interesting to watch what happens with the e-list!

  4. I don't have any hard statistics on teens owning e-readers, Ara, but I can say that adult e-books proportionally outperform children's e-books at this point. Michael Cader in a recent piece indicated that while adult e-books make up 9.5% of total sales, children's e-books make up only 1.7% of total sales.

    I'm eager to see how they break down the lists. It's an exciting time!

    - Michael

  5. I'm curious about whether they'll track free or very cheap e-books, because that might slant the list toward a lot of older titles. I know a lot of people who will pick up tons of the free books on the Kindle simply because they can, even if those books are far from current. I know you can get a free e-book of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE for free on Amazon, and the complete works of Jane Austen for $0.99. Will such accessibility mean a lot of classics outsell more current books on the list?

  6. Good question, Kristin. I'm guessing they'll only track paid content--the word "bestSELLER" implies that the books are purchased. And they typically look at front list, not back list. But who knows how they'll run these lists! I'm eager to see.


  7. I'd be interested in seeing what sites they include. Mobileread? Manybooks? Or just the big few? And Kristin asked about freebies... Will they exclude freebies at all? Will they exclude all freebies or only the public domain ones? What about books that were recently free, and are now paid?

    Will indie books suddenly be doing well? And can they tell us the breakdown between stores? What about the breakdown between print and e? At least one recent book by Grisham apparently had around 30% of first-week sales in e-format recently. I'd love to know whether that was an anomaly or if that's happening regularly...

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