I love bookstores. My wife and I both do. Roaming the aisles, picking up books that catch our eye, then meeting back at the cafe for a latte has been a favorite date night activity for a long time. It's been especially fun over the last 5 years, since my own novels have started showing up on bookstore shelves (that's my newest one on the right...shameless plug). But I've noticed some unsettling trends in the past few years when we visit bookstores.
Perhaps you have, too.
- We don't see as many people walking through the aisles.
- Or as many book titles on the fiction shelves.
- Or as many copies of my books, or my author friends' books, on the shelves.
Let's take a look at the hottest-selling books in the Kindle store on Amazon at the moment, see if we can learn anything about what's selling and why:
- 7 of the Top 10 Bestsellers on Kindle are full-priced books (in the $10-11 range). Most are "brand name" authors like O'Reilly, Stephen King, James Patterson and Nicholas Sparks.
- But if we extend this list out to the Top 20 Bestsellers, we find 9 books priced at $2.99 or less.
What do we find when we narrow the focus to Amazon's Top 10 Bestsellers in Christian Fiction (again, looking at Kindle sales)? As far as pricing goes, it's a little different story:
- Only 1 of the Top 10 Bestsellers could be considered "full-priced," although 2 are in the $8 range. But 5 of the Top 10 are significantly discounted at $2.99 or less.
- Extend the list to the Top 20, we find 12 (the majority) are discounted books at $3.99 or less.
When I look at numbers like this, it's no wonder sales at brick-and-mortar bookstores are in serious decline. People are able to instantly preview, then download well-reviewed books for $2-4 a piece. That's several dollars less than what mass-market paperbacks used to go for.
And it's not just Ebooks that are selling well. Readers who love to turn real paper pages are increasingly buying their books online rather than at the bookstore. Whenever I get with readers to chat I ask them about their book-buying habits. I keep hearing the same thing. More and more are buying them online, for two main reasons:
- Price - they often get print books at much lower prices.
- Availability - they can instantly order whatever book they want (complain they often can't find what they want at bookstores anymore, especially when buying books in a series).
Am I overstating this? What do you see up ahead? Where do you think all this is going? What kind of things do you think will stay the same? What kind of things will permanently change?