The month of December is almost over, and the one thing that I’ve read over and over is that December Kindle ebook sales took a nose dive this month. It showed up all over the web, but as of right now there is no explanation if this is a market blip, or something else. I’m thinking something else called…
The 5 DAYS FREE promo.
I think it royally messed with Christmas kindle sales for authors. The most complaints have come from Indie authors who priced their ebooks below $2.99. It provided direct competition for those who are shopping based on price. I mean, FREE is a pretty good price, right?
The 5 DAYS FREE promo was released with the KDP Select Program earlier in Dec. 2011. Basically, the author can promote their book for FREE for 5 days over a 90-day period. It’s one of the perks of of the KDP Select program. During the 90-days, the author’s book is also added to the Kindle Lending Library where Prime Members can borrow the ebook for free.
There has been excessive chatter on the KDP boards about a sudden surge in promotional sales when the book is free. But the bubble bursts as soon as the free period is over, and then the book resumes its regular position. Or worse. It’s an emotional roller coaster for an author to see their book’s sales rank at 250,000, and then watch it jump up to #147 in the Kindle store, only to fall back to where it was after the promotion.
Several authors reported that their book sales were worse than before they did the 5 days free promo. Their book didn’t even go back to the ranking it was at before offering the ebook for free. That really sucks. Here’s an explanation as to why that might be: As stated in a previous post, each author has a network of people who are willing and able to purchase the author’s book. Most authors have approx 200 people in this network that includes friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances.
So you take your awesome ebook, and put it up for free via the 5 days free promotional tool. You go from selling a small trickle, to a whopping 1500 books! Exciting, right? Well, maybe not. It’s possible that you just shot your sales in the head. You might notice a little statistical issue. The people who would normally purchase your book for 99 cents, can get it for free. By using the 5 Days Free promo, the author used up his 200 people network, and now all the people who were going to buy the book have it. And you didn’t get paid. Now the author has to wait to see if any of these freebie shoppers read the book, like it, and bother to recommend it to anyone. Your ebook can’t hit a second wave of readers until that happens. And it could take time, if it happens at all.
Free books tend to attract book collectors who pack their kindles full of stuff. Some are self-proclaimed ebook hoarders, while others are the cheap-o-ramas that leave 1 star reviews because they don’t like your name. Both types are interesting folks who lurk under bridges and bake bones in their bread. (Fe fi fo fum – Billy Goats Gruff!) Okay, maybe not that extreme, but I think the hoarders are funny. They are preparing for the Apocalypse by stuffing their kindles full of free stuff. Meanwhile, I’m wondering where I’d plug in my Kindle at the end of the world. I don’t think stuffing a candle into it will work. I’m not a visionary, I guess.
Anyway, as for KDP Select and the lending library, it’s still too early to tell how that’s going. We should know shortly. Either way, there have been reports of slumped ebook sales all over the web this month. Which is majorly weird because holidays are times when people are stuffing their ereaders full of books. As for B&N sales – mine tripled this month. Not sure if it’s cause everyone jumped ship over there at PubIt! or what. That makes me think that this isn’t a market blip, but an Amazon blip. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with ebook sales on Amazon in January.