The Fall of the Paper Curtain

Mba1 This week marked an astonishing turning point in the publishing industry. USA Today published it's usual list of the top 150 bestselling books…but for the first time, they included self-published work in their calculations. Kindle Nation founder Stephen Windwalker calls it the "fall of the Paper Curtain." As if that wasn't amazing enough on its own, it wasn't just that a self-published author cracked the list…but that the same author managed to get seven titles on it. Self-published author Amanda Hocking's books placed 16, 24, 31, 81, 133, and 146 on the list, outselling authors like Stephen King and Nora Roberts. Here's what Windwalker predicts will be happening very soon: 

  • One way or another, the fact that USA Today has opened its "bestseller list" gates to the great unwashed population of ebook and self-published authors will force the New York Times to do the same, lest its bestseller list be rendered irrelevant.
  • Once the Times and other rags allow self-published books on their bestseller lists, they will have to start publishing reviews of self-published books.
  • The prediction made here just a few weeks ago, that an indie author would be inducted by early 2012 into the "Kindle Million Club" alongside James PattersonStieg Larsson, and Nora Roberts, will prove to have been ridiculously conservative. Regardless of when Amazon makes the announcement, Hocking will pass the million-copy mark in Kindle books sold by the first day of Spring this year, and she will be joined by another dozen indie authors before the arrival of Spring in 2012.


6 thoughts on “The Fall of the Paper Curtain”

  1. Thanks for the tip, Lee! What a seismic shift, eh? With the inclusion of ebooks on the bestseller lists, ebooks have arrived, they’re legit, they’re happening. They are mainstream now and as valid as print books.
    I looked at the USA Today bestseller list with the idea of getting some sense for the prices of the print edition versus the ebook price. I narrowed my focus to the top 25 bestsellers and was surprised to learn that 12 of the top 25 bestsellers were as ebooks. Then I looked at the prices the ebooks were selling for on the USA List as print books mostly versus the Kindle price and this is what I came up with: the first field is the position in the USA top 25, the second field is the title and author, on the next line is the third field, the USA Bestseller List quoted print price, and the fourth is the Kindle ebook price: the difference in price is the decision facing the book buyer:
    #2 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stig Larson
    $14.95 $5.00
    #3 The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stig Larson
    $25.95 $5.00
    #4 Unbroken, by Laura Hildenbrand
    $27.00 $9.68
    #6 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stig Larson
    $27.95 $9.99
    #7 Water For Elephants, by Sara Gruen
    $14.95 No Kindle edition found
    #13 Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
    $17.99 $8.52
    #14 Cutting For Stone, by A Vergheses
    $26.95 $9.99
    #15 Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
    $17.99 $7.51
    #16 Switched, Amanda Hocking
    $2.99 $0.99
    #19 The Confession, by John Grisham
    $28.95 $9.99
    #24 Ascend, by Amanda Hocking
    $2.99 $2.99
    #25 The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
    $12.99 $9.88
    Obviously, the choice is ridiculous: the Kindle price is much better every time, and buyers will choose the Kindle edition overwhelmingly. With #24 above, USA quoted the ebook price rather than the print price, which is higher.
    Moreover, we’ve been thinking that the ebook price of $2.99 is the sweet spot, the price that sells, and it may be so for midlist writers publishing their backlist on Amazon. But as the prices on the list above show, bestsellers selling on Amazon as ebooks command premium prices, which, of course, is good news for self-pubbed authors who write quality books, especially considering Amazon offers a 70% royalty rate.
    So I conclude that, once an ebook writer breaks into the USA Bestseller List by writing a really, really high quality book, the Kindle price can zoom up from $2.99 to $9.99, obviously a huge financial benefit.

  2. What great news!! I have my first book coming out on Kindle soon so it’ll be interesteing to see how it does! Hoorah for modern technology AND self publishing!


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