- Perceived value – readers who care enough to frequent the forums and answer surveys tend to equate low price with low quality, and authors want to avoid the stigma of the 99¢ ghetto.
- Lack of the right marketing – some authors try to use the price as their only marketing tool, and when that doesn’t move copies, they blame the price.
- The 35% royalty rate – some authors want (and some demand) more than 35%. When John Locke sold his first million copies, some indies were quick to point out he’d “only” made $350,000. Dissatisfaction with compensation generally leads to blaming factors other than the obvious ones and making the results appear self-fulling.
- Fewer downloads
– Is the overall number of free downloads the same now as it was only spread across more books? Or does it just seem like fewer downloads?
In response to this complaint back in March, I compared how many downloads it took
to hit the same rank across multiple dates. Because I had good data for it, I
did this for several ranks between #50 and #150. Guess what? No difference.
Today I compared that data against the 7 free books I watched on April 9. Across the board, it took about 20% fewer downloads to hit the same ranks as before. That means on that one day, at least, there were indeed 20% fewer downloads than in the months before. But this is only one day, one data point. I’m not prepared to call this a trend based off this result. It will bear watching, though.
What about Select makes it appear to be in its death throes not even 5 months beyond its launch?
- Fewer post-free sales – Most folk are citing an average of one-third the sales post-free in this past month compared to previous months. Some are seeing considerably fewer, some are seeing a drop of less than one-half. I haven’t seen anyone say they’ve gotten MORE post-free sales recently.
- Shorter post-free bumps – Anecdotal reports are that the bump has tapered off from about 3 weeks to about a week.
- Fewer borrows – Anecdotal evidence suggests this is across-the-board behavior.
- Seasonality – Strongest sales and free downloads were in the two months post-Christmas. Are we in a seasonal decline right now? Or were those first two months after Christmas when millions of Kindles/Fires were gifted the exception?
- The end of the Prime promo – Fires sold at Christmas came with one month of free Prime. While this could explain any drop-off in borrows between January and February, something else has to be at work to create the continuing month-to-month drop-off. The 30% increase in the number of books available? Buyer disinterest?
- Buyer behavior – Are folk becoming more selective? Has the novelty of buying books for a new device worn off? Is an early spring keeping folk more active and away from reading? Are folk buying traditional books and non-Select books instead of Select books?
- Amazon’s adjustments to shelf placement – This is by far one of the most damaging changes to have occurred and one that can, indeed, be linked to part of the reason for diminished post-sales results. But is Amazon simply testing the waters? Will they be rearranging the shelves again shortly?
- Marketing efforts – Are authors setting books free too often, for too many days or too few days? What’s the sweet spot? Are authors who get no mentions on the big freebook sites and do poorly for one or two free runs giving up too soon? Are some authors not marketing at all – or marketing to the same folk each time they have a free promo?