Thursday, January 6, 2011

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

For authors utilizing the print-on-demand business model to self-publish, the new wave of ebook success stories can seem mind boggling. With everything there is to learn to develop one successful book in the POD world, the additional burden can seem like too much.

For authors who have successful books in print using the POD publishing model, the question of introducing a competing title in the Kindle and other ebook formats raises a serious question. Will introducing a Kindle version split sales for both titles and by doing so, hurt sales for both versions. I speculated about this in an earlier blog posting and feedback from Christy Pinheiro argues having two versions will not result in a decrease in sales for either version.

Christy, who is both an author, blogger and publisher, believes the two versions will appeal to different types of customers. Both want good content for their money. The reader who purchases the Kindle version is driven by the lower price and the immediacy of obtaining the book via the Kindle's wireless delivery. The other reader wants a paper copy of the book.

Aaron Shepard, one of the foremost experts in the field of self-publishing utilizing the print-on-demand model as well as being an expert in selling books on Amazon, argues otherwise in a recent blog post on his website. Aaron argues splitting sales for a title on Amazon by offering two versions of the same title reduces the long tail effect of the Amazon computers. Aaron's logic is thus: the more a title is purchased, the more Amazon's computers will promote the book, thus further driving sales. By splitting sales between two versions, neither will receive the full benefit of the combined total of sales in having the Amazon computers push the title for more sales.

Based on my single Kindle title at the moment, the Kindle sales have far outstripped the POD sales for the title. The low price seems to be luring in customers who were not willing to pay the price for the POD version. The few reviews posted thus far have been glowing about the content but as I mentioned in an earlier post, a review about the Kindle version started with a comment about the price.

Since the POD version was not selling very well, I am happy to see the Kindle version doing well. Even at the dramatically lower selling price and the lower royalty total per copy sold, the difference is made up for by the volume of sales.

I am going to introduce a Kindle version of my best selling book. I hope Aaron Shepard is wrong about his estimation that two versions of a single title will hurt sales of both. It is my hope that the dramatically increasing Kindle market and Kindle sales will attract buyers I would not otherwise have sold the book to while not impacting negatively my POD sales.

It is my hope the Amazon software designers and programs will find a way to link the sales of the two versions so that the sale of one version will boost both versions of the same title. Time will tell.