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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.