Monday, December 6, 2010

Competing with your own title - Do Kindle sales rob POD sales?

After much agonizing and probably unnecessary staring at a computer screen to track my book sales, I have three titles that are selling well. I also have a 4th title that should be selling well. The book, The Game of Basketball: Basketball Fundamentals, Intangibles and Finer Points of the Game for Coaches, Players and Fans, is actually a much better book in terms of content, design and has a very functional structure for how it is written to make it easy for the reader/user to access specific content. 

Alas, this particular title's sales are dismal. It has been the prescribed year since it was published and according to Aaron Shepard, it should be selling. If it is going to sell that is.  It is distressing. I have done the same promotional and marketing activities I did with my other three titles that are selling well and there has been no to little impact as a result.

Despite the fact that most books that sell well on Kindle are fiction, I took the plunge, paid CreateSpace their fee and the title in question is now a Kindle book and available from the Amazon Kindle store for and introductory price of $2.99. The 230 page paperback sells for $17.95 and is priced lower than comparable competing books which range in price from $19.95 to $24.95.

My book has better content, more content and is priced less than the competition. The competition sells and my book does not. What is wrong?

The book has been available from the Kindle store now since December 2, 2010, and has sold six copies in four days. I have done nothing to promote the Kindle version of the book and in fact the e-newsletter going out to my e-mail newsletter list to announce the fact the book is available as a Kindle book won't be sent out by the e-mail server for another hour or so.

I am making $2+ per sale of the book versus nearly $7 per sale of a paperback version of the book. While the profit margin is much better for the paperback book, it hasn't been selling well. In fact, during the four days the Kindle version has been available for sale, not a single paperback copy has sold.

As the days of December role by, it will be interesting to see how sales for the two versions progress. Will the Kindle version sell well and in doing so, will it strip the title of any paperback sales? I am not naive enough to think for a second Kindle sales will drive paperback sales.

While releasing the Kindle version may drive sales of the low priced ebook version and create a revenue stream, will it eliminate or kill sales of the paperback book? Will the books serve two different buyer markets? Will positive sales of the Kindle book help the ranking of the paperback and increase sales that way?

The traditionalist in me would prefer my POD version sell better than the Kindle version just because I prefer traditional paper books to an ebook. My wife would prefer something sell and if it has to be the ebook version, so be it. Her view is 70% of something is better than 100% of nothing. She is right of course to take this view and I should be happy I sold so many copies in such short a period of time with no book promotion to drive readers to Amazon to purchase the book. It will be interesting to compare total sales a year from now after the long tail of Amazon has had a chance to kick in for the Kindle version of the book, providing me with a clearer picture of the impact of a Kindle version on a paperback version.

I would love to hear from other authors concerning their experiences with both POD and Kindle versions of the same book and be able to share their feedback with the readers of this blog.