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Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey Results: How Agency Model Publishers Are Killing Their Own Kindle Sales

(One of several Kindle Nation posts exploring the results of the Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey. Click here to see a breakdown of results.) 
By Tom Dulaney, Contributing Reporter

Every salesman from Seth Godin to the guy at your local used car lot or Lexus dealership knows that one of the likeliest death knells for any prospective sale is signalled by these words from the buyer: “Let me think it over.”

eBooks are no different. While it is certainly true that the Kindle environment makes ebook purchases and downloads magically friction-free and convenient, that seamlessness does not turn Kindle owners into a nation of idiots.

For a whopping 88% of the 2,275 respondents in the Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey, “Let me think it over” translates into identification with the survey’s statement that “I frequently choose to delay purchasing an ebook that I want to buy if I think the price is too high.” 60% clicked “strongly agree” with the statement, and another 28% selected “agree.”

Those not coming down on the side of “wait-and-see” are a paltry 3% not sure about their actions, 4% who disagree and don’t delay, and another 4% who strongly disagree and pay up with abandon.

The DMZ no man’s land in the price struggles between publishers and readers is bordered by the $10 price line and the $12.99 price line, the survey suggests. In that range, 50% of survey respondents say they have paid the price occasionally for newly released titles. Some 8% “strongly agree” they have done so, while 42% “agree.” Some 46% disagree or strongly disagree; they haven’t flinched and paid. A neutral 4% sits in the middle.

So, half the respondents occasionally do pay from $10 to $13 dollars for an ebook, and just under half never do so. Cross the $13 parallel into more expensive waters, and things change dramatically, as shown a bit further below.

Whether large or small, traditional or indie, publishers and authors would do well to read between the lines here. For anyone with the sense to juxtapose these survey results with a look at the price composition of the Kindle Store bestseller lists, it becomes clear in a hurry that it is customers, not publishers, who are setting prices in the Kindle Store.

And any publisher or author who blows off the issue thinking the “delay” means the buyer will be back sooner or later needs to audit Business 101 next semester: You never recoup 100% of pushed-off sales.

Ominous news from the survey for big-league publishers and bestselling authors pushing higher prices are these figures from the survey: 76% of respondents say if “publishers keep charging higher bestseller prices, I’ll buy more backlist or indie titles.” To paraphrase the song, if you can’t be with the author you love, then love the one you’re with. 

Once again, it’s worth a look at the composition of the Kindle Store bestseller lists: 18 of the top 50 bestselling titles in the Kindle Store are by indie authors, compared with zero just nine months ago when publishers were launching their ill-fated agency model price-fixing scheme. Those 18 indie titles will sell over a million Kindle copies this month alone, and those are a million copies that traditional publishers will never have a chance to sell again.

There’s no doubt readers are much more price conscious this year. “With recent ebook price controversies, I’ve become more price conscious,” is the statement presented in the survey. Some 83% subscribe to the statement, with 43% saying they “strongly agree” that they are more price conscious and 40% saying they “agree” that they pay more attention to prices. Only 8% say they are not more tuned into prices, with another 10% opting out of the question by saying they are “not sure.”

Additional data indicates a smattering of respondents are occasionally paying more than $9.99 for books. The survey statement was: “I didn’t think I would be willing to pay over $9.99 for ebooks, but I’ve been doing it at least twice a month.” Only 14% admit cracking against their resolve, with only 2% strongly agreeing that they pay more and 12% merely agreeing they do so.

Some 36% disagree, denying they pay over $9.99 and 39% strongly disagree with the statement. An unsure 12% sit in the middle. To sum that up, nearly 75% say—in this survey question at least—they are not paying over $9.99 “at least twice a month.”
Exceed the $12.99 ceiling for newly released titles and resistance stiffens. “I occasionally pay $13 or more for newly released ebook titles,” is the statement respondents were presented with. Only 3% “strongly agree”; 16% “agree”. That is a 31% fall off from the 50% who relented and paid in the $10 to $12.99 range. To sum it up, 74% hold firm and do not buy newly released titles priced over $12.99.

Even if the ebook is professional or technical in nature, price resistance over the $9.99 tag is strong. For those types of ebooks, only 6% strongly agree that they would pay the surcharge for the specialty ebooks, and only 15% agree. A large 24% are unsure, perhaps never faced with the decision. But 32% disagree, indicating they would not pay more, and 23% strongly disagree.

(One of several Kindle Nation posts exploring the results of the Winter 2011 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey. Click here to see a breakdown of results.)

Publishing Perestroika: Indie Authors Blow Away Traditional Gatekeepers and Storm the Castle of Newspaper Bestseller Lists

By Steve Windwalker

Call it the “Paper Curtain,” if you like.

But like the Berlin Wall, it’s coming down.

As a result of the Publishing Perestroika that has been unleashed by readers and writers connecting primarily around Kindle content in the short span of just 39 months, the walls that have kept self-published and ebook authors from being included in prestigious newspaper bestseller lists will come crashing down this week.

Tomorrow, USA TODAY will roll out its weekly list of the top 150 bestselling books in the U.S., just as it does every Thursday.

Amanda Hocking
But for the very first time, USA Today announced today, its list for the week ending February 6 will include bestselling self-published direct-to-Kindle authors like Amanda Hocking. Hocking’s books currently rank #3, #11, #12, #27, #37, #41, and #46 on the Kindle Store top 50 bestsellers, and “the three titles in her Trylle Trilogy (Switched, Torn and Ascend, the latest) will make their debuts in the top 50 of USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list,” wrote USA Today’s Carol Memmott in an article entitled “Authors catch fire with self-published ebooks.”

Whether it happens this week or within a few more weeks, it’s also a good bet that Hocking will soon be accompanied by bestselling Kindle indie authors like John Locke, Victorine Lieske, and others.

And other, equally dramatic developments will follow:
  • One way or another, the fact that USA Today has opened its “bestseller list” gates to the great unwashed population of ebook and self-published authors will force the New York Times to do the same, lest its bestseller list be rendered irrelevant.
  • Once the Times and other rags allow self-published books on their bestseller lists, they will have to start publishing reviews of self-published books.
  • The prediction made here just a few weeks ago, that an indie author would be inducted by early 2012 into the “Kindle Million Club” alongside James Patterson, Stieg Larsson, and Nora Roberts, will prove to have been ridiculously conservative. Regardless of when Amazon makes the announcement, Hocking will pass the million-copy mark in Kindle books sold by the first day of Spring this year, and she will be joined by another dozen indie authors before the arrival of Spring in 2012.
All of these changes probably became inevitable, even though we didn’t know it then, when Amazon launched the Kindle on November 19, 2007.
But the barons of the book industry and the big New York publishers should make no mistake about the fact that these events have been hastened dramatically by their own tragically misguided launch of the agency model price-fixing plan early in 2010. Their tone-deaf move to try to protect their print publishing business model by insisting upon increases of 30 to 50 percent in ebook prices opened the doors wide to indie authors to lure readers with lower prices for what, in many cases, are better books.

During the last week before the agency model launch, in March 2010, there was not a single fiction title by an indie author along the top 50 bestselling titles in the Kindle Store.

This week, indie fiction authors have 18 of the top 50 spots. Those are 18 of the top 50 bestselling ebook spots in the land, worth well over a million copies sold during the month of February, and the agency model publishers might just as well have said “Here, come and take these, we don’t need them.”

Are Agency Model Publishers Hanging Together or Playing for Their Own Edges? Latest Kindle Nation Price Survey Shows Decline in Titles Priced Over $9.99!

By Stephen Windwalker, Editor of Kindle Nation Daily

It’s been exactly a month since we last took a systematic look at the population of ebook price points in the Kindle Store, so it seems a good time for a fresh look after five weeks of experience with the agency model. under the agency model, we were told, some of the big publishers were colluding with Apple to take retail ebook pricing out of the hands of retailers such as the Kindle Store and replace Amazon’s standard of $9.99 as a price for newly released ebooks with a 30% to 50% increase to price points between $12.99 and $14.99.

The remarkable news is that very little has changed when it comes to Kindle Store ebook prices, and if anything in the past 30 days the trends are toward lower prices. Alas, publishers! How can you make collusive price fixing work if some of you are playing for an edge and hoping that your partners, er, competitors will maintain their unpopular high prices?

After a brief period in late March and early April when we saw slight increases in the percentage of books prices over $9.99, there have been small but significant decreases at the same levels since April 7. Among the 511,259 ebook listings in the Kindle Store as of 9 a.m. today, May 7, 2010, the total percentage of books prices above $9.99 has decreased from 22.69% to 21.73%, essentially a full percentage point.

Meanwhile, while the percentage of titles priced at exactly $9.99 has decreased slightly from 11.01% to 10.62% during the past months, listings at all price points from 99 cents up to $9.98 have increased.

Other recent trends:

  • The overall size of the Kindle Store catalog has continued to increase by about 800 titles a day, growing from about 487,000 on April 7 to over 511,00 this morning.
  • The increase of over 63,000 in the number of Kindle Store titles since February 25 is roughly equivalent to the total number of listings in Apple’s iBooks Store at launch.
  • The number of free titles in the Kindle Store declined from 4.2% to 4.0% during the past month, while the number of free titles in the iBooks Store is reportedly somewhere between one-third and one-half of all iBooks titles.

 Among the 100 top Kindle Store “bestsellers,” it’s a case of plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

  • As of this morning, 59 of these titles were free, 2 were between $.01 and $3, 15 between $3 and $9.98, 16 at $9.99, and 8 at $10 and up.
  • As of April 7, 61 of the 100 top Kindle Store “bestsellers” were free, 1 was between $.01 and $3, 16 between $3 and $9.98, 12 at $9.99, and 9 at $10 and up.

It will be interesting to see how the pricing array evolves over the next two months, as Amazon prepares to increase its royalty structure to 70%, by June 30, for thousands of independent authors and smaller publishers who participate fully in Kindle features and maintain or bring their suggested Kindle Store retail prices into Amazon’s preferred range between $2.99 and $9.99, inclusive.

Here’s a price breakdown of the 511,759 book titles in the Kindle Store as of 9 a.m. EDT on May 7, 2010:

Here’s where we stood with the 487,715 book titles in the Kindle Store as of 9 a.m. EDT on April 7, 2010:

  • 20,620 Kindle Books Priced “Free” (4.23%)
  • 4,709 Titles Priced from a Penny to 98 Cents (0.97%)
  • 46,360 Kindle Books Priced at 99 Cents (9.51%)
  • 69,846 Kindle Books Priced from $1 to $2.99 (14.32%)
  • 94,891 Kindle Books Priced from $3 to $4.99 (19.46%)
  • 86,924 Titles Priced from $5 to $9.98 (17.82%)
  • 53,705 Titles Priced at $9.99 (11.01%)
  • 7,537 Titles Priced from $10 to $12.99 (1.51%)
  • 13,124 Titles Priced from $13 to $14.99 (2.69%)
  • 90,011 Titles Priced at $15 and Up (18.46%)

Here’s where we stood with the 480,238 book titles in the Kindle Store on April 1:

  • 20,620 Kindle Books Priced “Free” (4.29%)
  • 4,706 Titles Priced from a Penny to 98 Cents (0.98%)
  • 43,993 Kindle Books Priced at 99 Cents (9.16%)
  • 68,807 Kindle Books Priced from $1 to $2.99 (14.33%)
  • 93,706 Kindle Books Priced from $3 to $4.99 (19.51%)
  • 85,612 Titles Priced from $5 to $9.98 (17.83%)
  • 53,124 Titles Priced at $9.99 (11.06%)
  • 5,952 Titles Priced from $10 to $12.99 (1.24%)
  • 14,158 Titles Priced from $13 to $14.99 (2.95%)
  • 89,525 Titles Priced at $15 and Up (18.64%)

Here’s where we stood with about 463,000 Kindle Store titles on March 10:

  • 20,125 Kindle Books Priced “Free” (4.34%)
  • 2,588 Titles Priced from a Penny to 98 Cents (0.56%)
  • 39,095 Kindle Books Priced at 99 Cents (8.44%)
  • 64,105 Kindle Books Priced from $1 to $2.99 (13.84%)
  • 90,580 Kindle Books Priced from $3 to $4.99 (19.55%)
  • 84,055 Titles Priced from $5 to $9.98 (18.15%)
  • 53,697 Titles Priced at $9.99 (11.56%)
  • 5,793 Titles Priced from $10 to $12.99 (1.25%)
  • 13,731 Titles Priced from $13 to $14.99 (2.96%)
  • 89,448 Titles Priced at $15 and Up (19.31%)

And here’s where we stood with about 447,000 Kindle Store titles on February 25:

  • 19,795 Kindle Books Priced “Free” (4.42%) 
  • 3,023 Titles Priced from a Penny to 98 Cents (0.67%) 
  • 36,370 Kindle Books Priced at 99 Cents (8.12%) 
  • 62,275 Kindle Books Priced from $1 to $2.99 (13.9%) 
  • 87,722 Kindle Books Priced from $3 to $4.99 (19.58%) 
  • 81,230 Titles Priced from $5 to $9.98 (18.13%) 
  • 55,269 Titles Priced at $9.99 (12.34%) 
  • 5,139 Titles Priced from $10 to $12.99 (1.15%) 
  • 9,331 Titles Priced from $13 to $14.99 (2.08%) 
  • 87,771 Titles Priced at $15 and Up (19.59%)

Kindle Nation Daily Bargain Book Alert for Thursday, May 6, 2010: Two "Amelia Peabody" Mysteries by Elizabeth Peters at $1.99 Each

Fun coincidence here. My Kindle friend Richard A. visited earlier this week to lend me his Kindle DX so I could check out the features of the new version 2.5 Kindle software upgrade on the DX hardware, and in the course of talking about everything under the sun we were talking for a moment about something that we both enjoy, which is quality audiobooks. Rick strongly recommended that I give a listen to Barbara Rosenblat’s readings of some of Elizabeth Peters’ series of Amelia Peabody novels, which he said, perhaps not in so many words, are the very apotheosis of excellence in the spoken word.

And I will.

But meanwhile, so soon after our conversation, I couldn’t help but notice that there are two Elizabeth Peters ebooks from that self-same Amelia Peabody series racing up the Kindle Store sales ranking ladder today after being priced at $1.99 each, apparently not by Amazon but by imprints of their agency model publisher, Hachette. No idea how long these prices will last, but given that they have been priced at $1.99 in both the Kindle and iBooks stores, one must assume that the pricing is no accident. Here they are:

So, if you don’t have these books on your Kindle yet, and you’ve ever wanted to give Elizabeth Peters a read, now’s the time. And while I am sure that the Kindle text-to-speech (TTS) feature is no match for Barbara Rosenblat, let me hasten to note that both books are TTS-enabled on the Kindle!

One more reason why you might want to try these at $1.99, if you are an advocate of affordable ebook pricing:  

When an agency model publisher fixes a low price for a backlist title like these, the publishing is putting itself in a position to learn a great deal about pricing, sales, and profitability in the ebook world. Based on my own experiences and those of other authors, I believe that the ideal Kindle Store price for many backlist titles is in the $2.99 to $4.99 range, and that most such titles, if they are quality books with a little bit of marketing effort behind them are likely to sell roughly twice as many copies if they are reduced from $9.99 to $4.99 or roughly three times as many if they are reduced from $9.99 to $2.99. If Hachette and other publishers find out that such formulas apply to their backlist titles, it could be a powerful incentive for them to lower prices wherever possible.

Around the Kindlesphere, April 30, 2010: Top Teleread Picks, $9.99 New Release Hardcovers, Kindle’s 2.5 Upgrade, The Kindle Chronicles Scores B List Talent, and Cisco’s Valet Hotspot

A big thank you and shout out to estimable Teleread editor Paul K. Biba for including two of my posts among his nine choices in his weekly round-up, “The Editor’s pick of the week’s top posts.” All’s fair in love and the ebook wars: one of mine (Summing Up the Last Week for Amazon: Phases I, II, and III of the Kindle Revolution Are Over, and Amazon Has Won All Three) was from Kindle Nation Daily and the other (High Quality free audiobooks can be read on app for iPhone/iPad) was from iPad Nation Daily. Here’s a rundown of Paul’s other top choices:

What else is going on in the Kindlesphere? Plenty, and here are a few nuggets that may be of interest:

  • It would be silly of me not to acknowledge that most citizens of Kindle Nation, myself included, have grown to prefer reading books on our Kindles, as opposed to other formats. However, sometimes we just want to read the book in whatever way it is available to us, right? So it’s worth mentioning that, while we may lament the current unavailability of Kindle editions of many Penguin/Pearson titles due to the difficult ongoing negotiations between Amazon and the Big Six publisher over the agency price-fixing model, it’s refreshing to find that Amazon is now offering a number of recently released Penguin and Viking hardcovers, including a few bestsellers, at the

    same $9.99 price to which we have grown accustomed for their ebook editions in the Kindle Store. We won’t try to figure out Amazon’s strategy here or to psychologize about exactly how the authors or publisher in question feel about it all, but here are some of the titles we’ve found: The Black Cat: A Richard Jury Mystery by Martha Grimes, Lies of the Heart: A Novel by Michelle Boyajian, The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind by Barbara Strauch, Miss Julia Renews Her Vows by Ann B. Ross, The End of Wall Street by Roger Lowenstein, This is Just Exactly Like You by Drew Perry, The Line by Olga Grushin, Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott, and Stuart Woods’ novel Lucid Intervals Most of these titles have been released this month, and our assumption is that Amazon is paying the publisher $12 to $15, or half of suggested list price, for each copy. Most forthcoming Penguin titles for release during the next few months are discounted more modestly for pre-order, at about $17.

  • We’ll be drilling down in detail soon on some of the elements in Amazon’s recent upgrade, but we like it, from the “Collections” folders to the larger snappier fonts to the social networking features to another element that should make for improvements in the delivery of blogs like Kindle Nation Daily to our loyal Kindle edition subscribers. That being said, of course there are other things we would have loved to see included, include the audible menuing accessibility features promised by Amazon for “the first half of 2010,” an extension of the Twitter and Facebook features to include Amazon’s own reading-oriented Shelfari and some kind of Kindle Store credit for Kindle owners whose social sharing leads others to purchase Kindle content or, for that matter, Kindle hardware and accessories. Of course we’ve been calling for that since early in 2008, so I’m just saying…. But I’ll choose to hope that these things are in the pipeline rather than seeing the glass as half empty.
  • Not to get too relentlessly self-referential in my Around the Kindlesphere round-up here, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned Len Edgerly’s excellent The Kindle Chronicles podcast in a few weeks, and more often than not it makes for 40 minutes of interesting, informative, easy-on-the-ears enrichment. Will that be true of this week’s show with yours truly as the featured guest?

    To quote a pop song that rather dates me (leave Donny & Marie out of this, I’m thinking Dale & Grace covered here by the King), I’m leaving it all up to you.

  • Okay, we know Jeff Bezos has got our backs when it comes to free wireless connectivity for our Kindles, but if you are an early adopter with an increasing number of computers, gadgets, and devices taxing your home or home office internet connection, you may be interested in a new Cisco Systems product line that is getting a big roll-out on Amazon’s website this week: Introducing the Valet Hotspot: Home Wireless Made Easy. Products like the iPad, the Ipod Touch, and the Roku system that so many of us are getting to bring Amazon’s Video on Demand to our TV sets are bringing some of us to the point where we have more connected devices than matching socks, or Tony Soprano. (Sorry, couldn’t make a decision). The concomitant device compatibility issues can sometimes lead to wifi drops and other problems, but Cisco’s Valet Hotspot promises to clean up and streamline all of this for us:

With the Valet Hotspot, home wireless has never been easier. Valet gives you the power to quickly and simply make your home wireless. The included Easy Setup Key gets you connected to the Internet in just a few minutes. Simple-to-use Cisco Connect software is included and lets you quickly link your other wireless devices and manage your home wireless with ease. Remember when going wireless required technical expertise and hours of effort? Not anymore–the Valet Hotspot just works. (Click on the link for a multimedia presentation!)

Special Update to Kindle Nation Daily Free Book Alert for Friday, April 30: Swashbuckling Fantasy: 10 Thrilling Tales of Magical Adventure, a Sampler from Simon & Schuster

Nothing’s been ordinary in the world of ebooks lately, but ordinarily, lately, when you see the line “This price was set by the publisher” on a Kindle ebook’s product page it is Amazon’s way of letting us know  that there’s bad news adjacent to it in the form of one of those special “agency price-fixing model” prices. $12? $15? One never knows.

But here’s a breath of fresh air! Big Six publisher Simon & Schuster has done some creative thinking about how to leverage the power of “free” in the Kindle Store and used the agency price-fixing model to try something new, with a substantial volume of freebies under the lusty title Swashbuckling Fantasy: 10 Thrilling Tales of Magical Adventure.

Just what do I mean by substantial? 

  • First, these are 10 tales by 10 authors each with her own substantial oeuvre of fantasy titles already, so of course the authors and the publisher are hoping that this process will work for them and lead readers to their other work in the same way that we have seen work so effectively with our own Free Kindle Nation Shorts program. The authors represented are Jane Johnson, Linda BuckleyArcher, Scott Westerfeld, Kai Meyer, Alan Snow, Anne Ursu, Obert Skye, Margaret Peterson Haddix, D.J. MacHale and Holly Black.
  • Second, for those of you who, like me, take a look at file size and “number of locations” in an ebooks metadata and free sample before committing to a book, you’ll recognize that the offering’s file size of 1320 KB and its 3,936 “locations” spell a book of significant size and virtual weight.
  • Third, my quick perusal of the full text indicates that, unlike many “sampler” offerings, these 10 tales appear to be just that — tales, self-contained short stories or novellas — rather than frustrating tastes of an excerpted chapter or two.

So, bravo, Simon & Schuster! This is just the kind of thing that the big publishers should be doing to experiment with and begin to figure out the retail marketing power of distinctive pricing and free-to-paid linkages, so we’ve got your back if some of the other agency price-fixing model publishers whine that you are engaging in competitive and adversarial behavior.

Indeed, I am so pleased to see this little development that I am not going to make any snide cracks in which I wonder archly how you can afford to offer this sampler free of charge what with the storage and fulfillment costs of ebooks!

For the rest of today’s Free Kindle Nation Daily Book Alert, please click here: http://kindlehomepage.blogspot.com/2010/04/kindle-nation-daily-free-book-alert-for_30.html

Around the Kindlesphere, April 29, 2010: Non-Freebie Bestsellers, Faith-Based Freebies, Prices at the Time of Paperback Release, Brisk Online Sales, Kindle Rising in the Land of the Rising Sun?

By Stephen Windwalker, Editor of Kindle Nation Daily

© Kindle Nation Daily 2010
Not for nothing, but from Publisher’s Marketplace via The Independent, here are the top ten bestselling non-freebie books in the Kindle Store for the week ended April 27, 2010:

1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson (2=position last week)
2. Caught – Harlan Coben (1)
3. The Girl Who Played With Fire – Stieg Larsson (3)
4. House Rules – Jodi Picoult (4)
5. Deception – Jonathan Kellerman (9)
6. The Help – Kathryn Stockett (6)
7. Every Last One – Anna Quindlen (new)
8. Deliver Us From Evil(re-entry) David Baldacci
9. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson (8)
10. The Shadow of Your Smile – Mary Higgins Clark (7)

Meanwhile, it’s time to  clean out the top drawer of my desk here in the corner office at Kindle Nation headquarters….

  • Speaking of freebies and non-freebies, I’ve noted here a few times my anecdotal sense that religious publishers seem to have a passkey to the portals through which ebooks are offered free in the Kindle Store, but I have resisted drawing any harsh conclusions since I had not taken the time to assemble any real evidence. So I appreciate the rigor that Bufo Calvin has brought to a post at his I Love My Kindle blog, “Onward Christian Freebies.” Calvin drilled down on the breakdown of the 59 free promotional books in the Kindle Store a few days ago. “When I analyzed the books I came up with 41 from known faith-based publishers, 18 from other publishers,” he wrote. So, not to draw conclusions, but what’s up with that, Amazon? I mean, I’ve downloaded and occasionally even reviewed (positively) books from faith-based publishers before, and I have nothing in the world against them. I am fully prepared to grant the possibility that there may not be a level playing field when it comes to salvation, but I — and many other citizens of Kindle Nation — have called in the past for parity in the feature and pricing offerings available to publishers large and small, and it’s about time Amazon put this in place. Any publisher that agrees to play generally within Amazon’s preferred Kindle Store pricing framework of $2.99 to $9.99 ought to have equal access to a “dashboard” option of offering certain titles, up to a set percentage of that publisher’s titles, at a zero-price promotion for a limited and specified period of time. Treat us all the same, Amazon, and perhaps we’ll all get to the Promised Land together!  
  • And speaking of Kindle Store bestsellers, I noticed today that Pat Conroy’s novel South of Broad, one of the top non-freebies in the Kindle Store during the late Summer and Fall of 2009, is climbing the Kindle sales-rank ladder again as public awareness is stimulated due to the marketing of its paperback edition, which will be released next Tuesday, May 4. Years ago Herman Raucher’s film adaptation of The Great Santini (with Duvall and Danner) drove me to buy and read the book. I’ve been a multimedia Conroy consumer ever since, and in August I purchased both the Kindle and Audible.com versions of South of Broad. I won’t be buying the paperback next week, even at Amazon’s discounted price, but I do find it interesting to note that, by abstaining from other publishers’ collusive agency price-fixing model and allowing Amazon to put its unparalleled multi-format pricing experience to work on behalf of all, Conroy’s publisher (the Nan A. Talese imprint falls under Doubleday’s umbrella, and thus under Random House) is maximizing brisk online sales in four important formats. The hardcover is currently ranked #1,896 in Amazon’s main bookstore with its price discounted from $29.95 to $19.77, pre-orders of the paperback are at #760 with a price discounted from $16 to $10.88, the $9.99 Kindle Edition moved from about #500 to about #400 in the past 24 hours, and the unabridged Kindle-compatible Audible.com version is, I’m sure, still selling a few copies with a price discounted from $31.50 to $23.63. For Mr. Conroy, life is pretty good, and all the better because he’s not published by MacMillan, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, or Penguin/Pearson, the five agency model price fixers.
  • Speaking of brisk online sales, someone bought a Kindle yesterday after visiting Kindle Nation Daily and clicking on a link to Amazon. This has happened five times this month, and since Amazon sends $25.90 to Kindle Nation Daily two or three months after each such occurrence (yep, that was a disclosure), it looks like I will be in good shape to pay the various monthly fees associated with Kindle Nation Daily in July. So, thank you! And it appears that my sales are just the tip of the iceberg for Amazon, since I see that as of this morning the Kindle is still Amazon’s #1 selling electronics item, and Amazon said in a release earlier this week that in fact the Kindle remains the #1 selling item, period, for Amazon. Other products worth noting among Amazon’s top 25 in Electronics as of this morning are the Kindle DX at #7, iPod Touch models at #2, #3, and #19, other iPods at #14 and #15, and an Apple mouse at #24. Among Amazon’s top 25 in laptops are iPad models (offered by third-party sellers at premium prices) at #1, #2, and #4, and these models also rank #12, #23, and #74 among Amazon’s top 100 in computers, where Apple is additionally represented by 8 Mac models in the top 40.
  • Finally, I’m sure that folks who understand the 21st century innovation of “cloud computing” far better than I would be quick to tell me that it would be a huge stretch to link this news release from Amazon yesterday to global Kindle expansion, but I’m not so sure. Amazon’s headline reads: Amazon Web Services Launches Asia Pacific Region for Its Cloud Computing Platform; Cloud pioneer now offers its suite of web services from new Singapore datacenters to serve customers desiring an Asia Pacific presence, and you can click on the title to read the entire release. After all, don’t clouds often bring rain? Perhaps I am out of my depth here, but Bloomberg Business Week did have an intriguing story last week about talks between Amazon and Kodansha ahead of a possible in-country Japanese language Kindle launch, and I’m paying close attention to all the tidbits I can find about Amazon actually allowing the Kindle to establish country-by-country international roots for three reasons: (1) the number of Kindle Nation readers beyond U.S. borders continues to grow dramatically; (2) it’s potential news; and ( 3) I have a small vested interest, in that my Asian publisher (Nikkei BP) is releasing its Japanese translation of my book The Complete User’s Guide To the Amazing Amazon Kindle in paperback in May and wants to follow up with a Kindle edition as soon as Amazon offers a Japanese-language Kindle platform.

A boy can dream, whether he’s Ash on a Pokemon quest in Japan or an author in Arlington on a quest for first-mover status in the Japanese Kindlesphere.