Publishers Weekly brings confirmation that Amazon are finally splitting out free books into a separate Bestsellers List -
A representative at the e-tailer has confirmed that the company will be splitting its Kindle bestseller list, creating one list for paid books and another list for free titles.
The date for the switch is vague—the rep would only say it will happen in “a few weeks”—but the switch will certainly be noticed.
That would mean that free books would no longer be stealing spots from deserving paid books.
What people are saying about it
Publishers Weekly’s Rachel Deahl provides a very Publisher centric view -
many industry members interviewed said Amazon’s Kindle bestseller list remains the one they examine to get a feel for what e-books are selling
Her concern that free books will not be as valuable a tool to promote authors and books doesn’t make sense. Nearly everyone will check both lists (free and paid) and now Publishers have 100 slots to use for their free book promotions.
The Free Bestsellers list is going to be very popular – perhaps more so than the Paid Top 100.
L. A. Times’ Jacket Copy blog talks about the change too -
All of us were a bit perplexed about the use of “bestseller” to designate book that are not, well, sold. Grammarians, at the very least, will welcome the change.So, too, will major publishers. Amazon is doing the right thing, an executive at HarperCollins told Publishers Weekly, which reports “consumers ‘want to know what books everyone is reading, and buying,’ and that a list which combines free downloads and books for sale doesn’t deliver this information.”
L.A. Times thinks that independent publishers will be hurt by this change – However, it’s underestimating the draw of the Free Bestsellers List.
Here’s Deb Smith, Publisher and Editor of independent publisher BelleBooks, with her thoughts -
The giveaway DOES produce real sales both on the promoted title and the authors’ backlist. More important, it highlights small press titles and gives them a chance to find the readership they deserve. My tiny press can’t begin to compete with the big pubs in terms of advertising, but via Kindle we accomplish a similar level of publicity and results.
There are big financial rewards for getting to the top of the ‘paid’ list and paid independent books are probably not going to make it to the top for the first 6 months or so. However, they have bigger problems than that.
The biggest problem for Independent Publishers and Authors is getting publicity. They can’t even get into stores. A spot on the Kindle Free Bestsellers list would be hugely important.
Reasons putting free books on a bestseller list doesn’t make sense
Lots of reasons a combined list was unoptimal -
- It’s much tougher to get people to pay for a product than to give it away free.
- It’s basically letting some authors/publishers get free marketing at the cost of other more deserving authors/publishers.
- Lots of people download free books and never read them.
- There is no ‘selling’ in free books.
- Readers were only finding 30-40 paid books in the Top 100 Bestsellers List. There were 60+ other books they wanted to find and had no easy way to.
At the moment there are 38 paid books in Top 100 Bestsellers List. That means there are 62 paid books (that people are paying good money for) losing out to $0 public domain books and to $0 books being used as promotional vehicles for other books.
It’s pretty unfair and it’s good that Amazon are ending it.
There are also some benefits of having two lists -
- You get 100 extra spots. Currently 101 through 200 are virtual unknowns. Now they’re there for everyone to see.
- People can go find what they want. The bargain hunters can go to the free books list. The people looking for the best new books can go to the Paid Bestsellers list.
- You don’t have two completely different categories of books competing against each other.
What would a Top Bestsellers List made of Paid Books look like?
Currently we have 39 paid books of which - 26 are at $9.99 or less, 9 are at $12.99, and 3 are at $14.99. Scale that up and we’re looking at approximately 68 books at or below $9.99, 24 books at $12.99, and 8 books at $14.99.
We might see more than just 8 new books priced at $14.99 make the list because people who don’t want to wait will buy them when they are initially released. Also preorders all show up on the same day making it likelier that newer books hit the top of the charts. In a way a separate paid bestsellers list helps the Agency Model.
We’ll also get the occasional low-priced independent author’s book sneaking on to the list. In fact, if the boycott of the Agency Model continues we might see 5 or more independent authors on the Top 100 Paid list soon.
Overall, it’s a very good change and it will give a lot more authors exposure and lead to good things for books.