A Tale of Two E-Books

POSTED ON Sep 11, 2010

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

Home > Blog > E-Books & Readers, Marketing > A Tale of Two E-Books

It depends on the context.

What’s your frame of reference?

Perception is reality.

However you want to say it, every day we we walk through worlds that are right next to each other yet seem to never touch.

Kindle—The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking

This is the best selling, non-free, non fiction book in the Kindle store, probably the biggest retailer of ebooks from mainstream publishers. And also lots of indie authors. And self-publishers, too. Everybody has a seat at this table. As Amazon is fond of telling us, they have over 670,000 titles to choose from.

ebooks for self-publishersThis book is the Kindle version of a hardcover original. More data:

  • 208 pages, or 12992 KB
  • Published by Bantam
  • Kindle’s MOBI format for use on Kindle or in the Kindle reader app for iPhone, iPad and others
  • It has an average rating of 3.5 stars from 42 customer reviews (The pub date for this edition was Tuesday, 9/7)
  • 47 people “tagged” the book as too expensive for Kindle
  • The book retails for $28.00 (same price as the hardcover, by the way) and Amazon has discounted it today to $13.61, a 51% savings
  • Example of sales copy:

    “In The Grand Design we explain why, according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence, or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously. We question the conventional concept of reality, posing instead a “model-dependent” theory of reality.”

Obviously even at $13.61 there is a portion of the Kindle audience that loved it when every bestseller was $9.95, and they are not going quietly.

Except for the higher than normal price for a book that Random House, the hardcover publisher, calls “marvelously concise” which might lead you to believe it’s a bit of a “marshmallow.”

However, it’s a book from an author who is world-famous and who hasn’t published recently, so there’s a lot of interest in the book and that’s probably why it went to number one on Kindle so quickly.

Internet Marketers—How to Launch the **** Out of Your EBook by Dave Navarro and Naomi Dunford

Okay, here’s book number two for your inspection. I have no sales figures for this book. The authors are bloggers and internet marketers of the “third tribe” variety.

internet marketing for self-publishersHere’s some info:

  • 113 pages
  • Format is PDF, for use on computers, the iPad and, awkwardly, the iPhone
  • No stated publisher
  • Does not appear to have an ISBN
  • This book is not on Amazon, or anywhere else for that matter. It’s available only from a “landing page” belonging to the authors
  • The price of this book is $97.00
  • Example of sales copy:

    “It’s a fact: strong sales result from four proven factors that transform “hopeful” ebook writers into savvy authors who rake in five figures, six figures or more every year from the sales of their ebook – because these factors let you “sell without selling” and convince people to buy before even a single word of sales copy is read.”

Parallel Universes

Somehow, books like How to Launch the **** Out of Your EBook simply don’t exist in what we think of as the book business, the publishing universe.

But this ebook is just as real as Hawking’s book, isn’t it? Notice that its graphical representation is designed to look more like a book. The Kindle graphic is simply an adaptation of the front cover of the hardcover edition. So maybe it’s more of a book.

Bantam, I’m sure, would like to sell Hawking’s book in as many venues as possible, in any format in which you would like to buy it. It’s on Amazon, BN.com and probably every other ebook retailer in the known universe.

Dave Navaro and Naomi Dunford sell their book in one place only, their sales page.

No matter how many copies they sell, this book will never show up on a bestseller list, will never win a book award, will never even appear on the radar of the book business.

And their book is almost 8 times the price of Hawking’s. I wonder what the reaction would be over at the Kindle store if someone tried to sell an ebook for $97?

And yet I’m sure that this book sells, and sells well. Both authors are accomplished marketers. Dunford advertises “over 25,000 Monthly Visitors” to her website, and Navarro says he has over 4,000 people on his email list. They are both pros who teach other people how to make money online. And after all, how many ebooks do you have to sell at $97?

The Moral of the Story

Perhaps you’re a self-publisher. Maybe you’re thinking of selling your book as an ebook. Why will you choose one model over the other? It’s just as easy to send traffic to your own sales page as to the Kindle store’s page for your book.

Since it’s a digital product, there’s no fulfillment cost or overhead involved. You can sign up for an e-commerce account for almost nothing and sell the download off your website. It’s fully automated. If what you are selling is information, a how-to book, a training manual of any kind, this is a fair question.

But then there’s the big question, the one that ought to interest every self-publisher before they run off to become a best seller in the Kindle store: What’s your ebook worth?

I guess it depends on the context.

Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, original work copyright by Mike Licht, https://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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