The inevitable rise of $1 – 34% of Top 100 at $1

The Kindle might lead to a lot of things – $15 books selling very well is not going to be one of them.

Here’s what the Kindle Store Top 10 looks like at the moment -

  1. Saving Rachel by John Locke at $1. 
  2. Scrabble by EA at $1. 
  3. Mahjong Solitaire by Mobigloo at $1.
  4. A Girl Like You by John Locke at $1.
  5. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen at $6.39.
  6. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand at $12.99.
  7. Love You More by Lisa Gardner at $12.99.
  8. Wish List by John Locke at $1.
  9. EA Solitaire at $1.
  10. Lethal People by John Locke at $1.

That’s 7 out of the Top 10 spots taken up by $1 items – 4 $1 books and 3 $1 games.

For the Top 100, this is what we get -

  1. 23 books at $1. 
  2. 11 apps at $1. 
  3. That’s 34% of the Top 100 being at $1.
  4. There are a further 19 items between $1 and $5. This includes books, magazines, and more.
  5. That means a stunning 53% of items in the Top 100 are at or below $5.

Quite a few of the apps at $1 are part of a promotion that lasts till March 27th. However, it shows that $1 works. Also, even if you exclude $1 apps, it still means 23% of the Top 100 are $1 books – Nearly all from indie authors.

Plus there are more indie authors jumping in with $1 books every day -

  1. The Merry-Go-Round, a romantic comedy by Donna Fasano. Price: $1. Genre: Marriage, Love & Romance, Lawyers & Criminals, Humor. Rated 4.5 stars on 32 reviews.

    When Lauren divorces her husband, she has one thought on her mind…stepping off the merry-go-round. However, her life quickly turns into a three-ring circus: her hypochondriac father moves in, her ex is using her shower when she’s not home, and her perky assistant is pushing her out into the fearsome dating world. She also has to decide if the dilapidated barn and vintage merry-go-round she was awarded in the divorce settlement is a blessing or a bane.

Authors like Donna Fasano are taking up positions the Publishers are giving up. Publishers are actively spurning the top spots by raising prices of new releases to unrealistic levels, by not releasing back list titles, and by pricing ebooks above paperbacks.

$1 is not unrealistic

Here are all the things an author, publisher, or app developer gets from the Kindle Store -

  1. Kindle owners in one place. You can market to and reach all your customers easily.
  2. No shipping or storage costs. There are bandwidth costs and they are quite high thanks to AT&T. However, eventually, someone will figure out a way to do downloads using only WiFi.
  3. Payment processing taken care of.
  4. Huge Volumes.
  5. All middle-men eliminated and replaced by just one platform.

It’s a long list – those are just 5 things that jump to mind. Yes, the platform has a lot of power and bandwidth costs are a royal pain. However, it’s a huge improvement from what used to exist earlier.

Authors should easily be able to afford to sell books for $5 or less.

$10 and $15 just becomes greed. $5 is pretty reasonable. $1 becomes necessary because of competition. If you have a book in a niche with little competition, or high costs of producing the book, then you can go with $5. However, $1 is taking over.

A few years ago, in 2008, there were just two $1 items in the Top 100. Today, there are 34. The top 4 spots are at $1. 7 out of the top 10 spots are at $1. The signs couldn’t be clearer. Customers want the efficiency to be shared with them – they’re richly rewarding authors and developers who are eliminating fear, greed, and overhead, and going with a customer-friendly and profit-friendly $1 price.

4 Responses

  1. If this continues, and Amazon still wants to encourage books being priced at $3 or more, it might set up a separate best-seller list for books under that level. That would give more higher-priced books visibility.

    And it would cater to the two segments of the audience: Price-sensitive bargain-hunters, and traditional “quality”-focused readers. Each could scan only, or mostly, the list that contains the fewest items they don’t want to know about. Win/win.

    • I agree Roger, it’s about time that Amazon introduces a third chart similar to iTunes’ Top Grossing Apps. I am so frustrated at having to wade through mediocre $1 indie titles to get to the high-quality books.

  2. [...] under $10 before March 1st, and have been slowly dropping in the rankings since their prices rose. This article goes even further and shows 53% of the top 100 are priced at $5 or less, and 34% at [...]

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