I won’t pretend for a moment that my sales are reflective of book sales in the wide, wide world of literature. I am but a wee bit player in the market, a mere grain of sea salt in the ocean. That said, there is a clear trend in my sales figures over the past three years. When I released The Greatest Show on Dirt back in 2012, my sales were relatively even between print and ebook. The paperback version was priced at $12.95 and probably discounted a buck or so on Amazon, where most of the copies were sold. The ebook version (mostly Kindle, though I did experiment back then with other channels) was mostly priced at $2.99. Even so, with the electronic version nearly $10 less, sales broke down 44.6 percent print, 55.4 percent ebook.
As you can see by the bar graph, those numbers have shifted dramatically in just two years. With the release last February of Nine Bucks a Pound, I had two books available for most of 2014. Of the 598 combined copies sold (including borrows in either the Kindle Lending Library or through Kindle Unlimited), 93 percent were ebooks. And aside from a couple of 99-cent promotions, the Kindle version of The Greatest Show on Dirt sat at $3.99 for most of the year. Nine Bucks a Pound was most often listed at $2.99, with a $13.95 price on the paperback.
I suspect there is a lot more to it than price, though that is likely a significant factor. Amazon’s “Also Boughts” (Customers who bought this book also bought these books) are a huge discoverability booster. Over time, with enough sales, those connections multiply. Once they reach a certain critical mass, sales trickle in at a somewhat steady pace. I reached that plateau for the Kindle version of The Greatest Show on Dirt sometime in 2013. It’s safe to assume I have yet to reach it for print.
But there has to be more to the story, as I’m no where near that magical threshold for either format of Nine Bucks a Pound. Yet my ebook to print ratio was nearly 9-to-1 for it last year. Much of that was due to the promotions that were run, lowering the ebook price temporarily. But I’ll guess a bigger factor is there are a lot of readers out there who will more willingly plunk down $3-4 on a new author than $12-13. I do the same, so I very much understand that approach.
Will I see the same breakdown with book #3, Sorry I Wasn’t What You Needed? It seems likely, though with the print yet to release (getting close, should be ready before the end of the month), there are no numbers yet to compare.
How do your purchases break down? Do you read more ebooks than print these days? Does it differ for novels vs non-fiction books? And how much does price factor in?