- Ebook Sales...

Warning! In recommending eReaderIQ to you I should warn you in advance that using it may cause you to increase your ebook spending at Amazon. It depends on how well you can restrain yourself from hitting the buy key when you're aware of a sale. Me? I'm really, really weak. Also I had the idea that by setting all my price notifications very low (most are $4 and under) that I wouldn't often be tempted. I was sooooo very wrong....


Credit where it's due - the site was recommended via Jane at Dear Author, who also uses it. (Dear Author, aside from its clever and amusing romance reviews, is also a great resource for ereader news, publishing, and many things book related.)


Update: here's a site that is supposed to track prices for various devices - I haven't tried it myself: BookBub




Using eReaderIQ and Tracking Ebook Prices - Things I've Learned So Far



First: I have no affiliation with eReaderIQ but the ability to track books and prices fascinates me. I've used the website since 2011.

Second: Unfortunately it will only track books on Amazon. I actually recommend it anyway, even if you're not using an Amazon ereader or Amazon software on your tablet - just because in many cases a sale on Amazon means other book sellers may price match. Not always, but sometimes. And it will allow you to track your favorite authors and their ebook offerings.

I've learned a fair amount about book pricing just from using this site - more on that a few paragraphs down. Let's cover how I use the website.

You can actually have your entire Amazon book wish list imported (I was going to say "absorbed," but that sounded like The Blob) into the eReaderIQ database to track. Why didn't I use this method? I'm one of those people who don't like to link places I shop to other accounts. I'm pretty sure this is safe enough in this case, but I prefer to enter my book data by hand, and book by book. I also set up an email account just for this website's email notifications and various other online sign ups. (It's almost like I'm somewhat organized! This is unique for me, She of The Perpetual Messy Desk.)

These are the two areas that I primarily focus on at eReaderIQ (I'm not particularly sure what you'll see on these linked pages if you don't have an account - you get to these via the link Track Books):

1) Authors - Track Authors page
If you follow a popular author you will learn the most about how book pricing works. The downside is that you will receive a LOT Of email notifications about price changes if your favorite authors book prices are frequently changed. Some of these price changes you won't consider anywhere near a sale. However if you really want to know if an author has any book sales and you don't like the idea of having to add every single book of theirs, past and future - this is the way to go about it.

I'm currently tracking 55 authors.

2) Individual Books - Kindle Price Drop Tracker
I enter most of my books this way, and my usual notification setting is "Notify me when the price drops by $6.00" (though sometimes that's still not low enough). Because I'm looking for sales that are lower than $5, since I am indeed that cheap. (And probably will continue to be while it's difficult to lend ebooks - paper books are easier to lend and so I'll pay more for that.)

I currently have 950 books on my list (find your total count under My Watch Lists). That seems like a lot. I keep waiting for a huge book sale day to occur where I'll suddenly have 20 books all at wonderfully low prices - but this has never happened in the 2 years I've used the site.


UPDATE, 9/6/2013
Just after I finished writing this, something happened in the last two days somewhere because I've had the most email notifications for authors in the past 24 hours than I think I've ever had in two years. Authors involved are primarily writers of popular history with a novelist or two thrown in, and the publishers/reps are tweaking the prices on 5 or more of their books. (I get an email for each book, which means multiple emails all at once.) The price drops aren't huge amounts - it's been just $1 to $5 less - and in most cases that has the lowest price of the book at $9.99 and at highest around $15.00. No idea if those are sale prices or new permanent prices.


Things I've Learned By Following Authors and Their Sales
No quantitative research here - this is just what I've noticed as a user of this website and a buyer of books.

- Some popular authors - for example, Neil Gaimen (though he's not the only one I'm following who does this) - have books on sale almost every week. Granted the sale may only mean a discount of as little as $1 or $2, but the fact that someone is adjusting prices that often must mean either that small sales work, or that they're actively charting sales at the these times to figure out what works and what doesn't.

- Some popular authors never seem to have ebook sales at all, or the sales only occur a once or twice a year. Even though I'm following 54 authors, only a very small amount of them generate regular email notifications of price changes. (This is particularly noticeable when the prices for the hardback and paperback have been changed to reflect how many years old the text is, while the ebook is still left at its early price.)

- There are far more sales that are for a small discount than for a huge discount.  $1-$4 off for some publishers/authors may be a huge sale, but if I'm still paying $10+ for the ebook, it's not something I'll buy. (My personal impulse buy price for an ebook is under $5. More than that and I want paper, just so I can easily pass it on to both my parents, who aren't as wild about ebooks or read them as quickly. And a bonus for the seller - if the sale price is under $5 I'll often buy two, one for me and one as a gift.)

- Sales often occur around holidays - just before, during, for a day after, etc.

- For books in a series: often when a new book comes out the older books will all go on sale, or at least the first few. This is a great idea to hook new readers, and I have indeed bought books in such sales.

- If there's a sale for a book on my notification list for $3.99 to as low as $.99 - I will usually buy it. Such low prices never last long.

- The key thing I've learned: MANY sales are short. And by short I mean anywhere from 12-24 hours can be common. (In other words, I'd never have heard of them without the email notification, unless I'd read someone's blog or social media before the sale ended.) Some sales may go as long as 5 days, but 2-3 days also seems a good average - it will depend on author and the work. Often the lower the price, the shorter the sale time. Big name authors/popular books rarely go on sale for as long as 5 days unless it's a very old book in the catalog, or perhaps the first of a series and the author/publisher is hoping to get you to try the rest.

Ridiculously Priced Ebooks I've Been Watching

(This whole bit is very tedious and needs me to rewrite it badly.)

Part of the fun of the Price Drop Watch List is that you can see the Current Price and the Starting Price of the book from the date that you added it to the list. You'll quickly note that some publishers never, never change the price and there are never any sales. This would make some sense if ebooks were always set at rational prices, but many publishers feel that prices of $20 and up are perfectly rational. So sometimes I'll add books to this watch list just to see if publishers EVER lower the price.

These aren't the highest ebook prices ever (tho I'm curious as to what that highest price would be) - just a few books that I've been interested in, did a double take when I saw the prices, and decided to follow the prices to see if they ever dropped. Some of them are obviously being used as textbooks by someone, which always inflates the price - but all of them are academic texts, mostly published by academic presses. (As a former grad student and teacher at college level I feel this is all kinds of unfair, especially for the textbooks, but that's a rant for elsewhere. That there are now rental prices doesn't really solve the problem - some texts students need to keep and should be encouraged to do so - the prices make sure that they don't. See, there I go, into the rant...) But some don't seem likely to be regularly used as textbooks, which is why the high prices are worth watching.
Problem 1: I need to find some more mainstream/non academic texts like this to follow.

Problem 2: The high prices of mainstream/non academic works never seem to rise to these price levels. (That I can find. Please link me some, if you see any!)

Note: I don't blame authors for these prices. I assume it's mainly the publishers who set the prices. Also eReader has a link that will show you a book's price history since you started following it on a graph. Many of these books with high prices never shift their price at all - note on the list those that have and how much the price changed. (Spoiler, not much, either direction.)

Anyway, here's a small list, prices in American dollars, date is month/day/year, link is to Amazon page - highest price first. I've added publisher, date and page number so you can have an idea of how much book you're getting for the price. (I'm tracking many more academic books than this, this is just to give you an idea.):


Encyclopedia of Urban Legends, Updated and Expanded Edition - by Jan Harold Brunvand
Start Price: 138.40
Current Price: 138.39
Date I started Following: 4/12/2013
Publisher: ABC-CLIO (publisher of reference books); 2 edition (July 31, 2012)
Number of pages: 820
GR page: here

The Satirical Gaze: Prints of Women in Late Eighteenth-Century England (Oxford Historical Monographs) - by Cindy McCreery
Start Price: 120.00
Current Price: 120.00
Date I started Following: 2/7/2013
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (April 8, 2004)
Number of pages: 304
GR page: ">here

Monarchy and Matrimony: The Courtships of Elizabeth I - by Susan Doran
Start Price: 99.06
Current Price: 99.06 (rental price range: 31.94 to 99.06)
Date I started Following: 8/17/2013
Publisher: Routledge (November 1, 2002)
Number of pages: 292
GR page: here

The Great American Housewife: From Helpmate to Wage Earner, 1776-1986 (Contributions in Women's Studies) - by Annegret Ogden
Start Price: 81.60
Current Price: 81.60
Date I started Following: 8/29/2013
Publisher: Praeger (February 21, 1986)
Number of pages: 279
GR page: here

Passion's Fortune: The Story of Mills & Boon - by Joseph McAleer
Start Price: 94.05
Current Price: 79.19
Date I started Following: 8/3/2012
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (January 10, 2000)
Number of pages: 352
GR page: here
Price info I made a note of from 2012, paper info was for comparison with ebook:
Paper prices: Hardcover - Used $19.26, New from $78.78, Amazon price $99.00
Ebook: Kindle - $94.05

London Clubland - by Amy Milne-Smith
Start Price: 68.00
Current Price: 77.65
Date I started Following: 11/23/2012
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 1 edition (December 6, 2011)
Number of pages: 309
GR page: here

Dying for Victorian Medicine - by Elizabeth T. Hurren
Start Price: 76.00
Current Price: 76.00
Date I started Following: 4/28/2013
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (December 2, 2011)
Number of pages: 400
GR page: here

Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel (Ashgate Studies in Publishing History) - by Sally Dugan
Start Price: 83.96
Current Price: 73.49
Date I started Following: 4/11/2013
Publisher: Ashgate; New edition edition (December 28, 2012)
Number of pages: 314
GR page: here

Before Victoria: Extraordinary Women of the British Romantic Era - by Elizabeth Denlinger
Start Price: 52.25
Current Price: 47.02
Date I started Following: 4/10/2013
Publisher: Columbia University Press (June 1, 2010)
Number of pages: 192
GR page: here

Rakes, Highwaymen, and Pirates: The Making of the Modern Gentleman in the Eighteenth Century - by Erin Mackie
Start Price: 31.16
Current Price: 44.00
Date I started Following: 8/7/2012
Publisher: JHUP (John Hopkins University Press) (June 1, 2010)
Number of pages: 248
GR page: here

Reading Shakespeare Historically - by Lisa Jardine
Start Price: 31.16
Current Price: 33.56 (rental price range: 8.61 to 33.56)
Date I started Following: 4/13/2013
Publisher: Routledge (May 13, 2013)
Number of pages: 224
GR page: here


After noting these it makes me think I really should have been adding all this to a spreadsheet at regular intervals - but that's the former-grad-student in me getting all qualitative and forgetting I don't need to do that anymore. Doesn't matter, I itch to do it anyway! But it would cut into reading time, so I'll pass.