The hot story on the web seems to be the fact that Dan Brown’s latest book, The Lost Symbol, is selling more in e-book edition than its paperback counterpart. The Kindle Nation caught this development, and the web went crazy over it. After all, if an ebook can dominate the book sales on Amazon, that’s certainly great news for publishers who have been wanting to be on Amazon Kindle but have had doubts about the device’s potential. It’s true that not everyone’s is as negative as Rupert Murdoch on Kindle, but many in the publishing world have been wondering whether e-books are catching fire with all the push that Amazon and other companies have put behind this market.
But is this truly a valid example of an e-book selling its paperback counterpart? I have my doubts. After all, let’s not forget that Jeff Bezos wrote a long story about how people can order and read Dan’s latest book on Amazon Kindle a while ago. The letter was displayed to a whole lot of visitors, so the e-book version of this book did get a big push from Amazon. Let’s not forget that the book costs only $16 or so. So in order to get free shipping, you’ll have to spend another $9. So we are looking at the e-book version costing only half of the paperback edition.
It’s certainly interesting that the e-version of The Lost Symbol is outselling its paperback edition, but this should hardly be a surprise. In a lot of cases, the e-book and paperback prices are closer together. So it’d be interesting to see how things would work out in that scenario. In fact, on the very same list, we can see a live example of this phenomenon.
So why is the above results more significant? Simple. The book and its e-book version have been on the list for a longer period. It’s still tough to read too much into this, but it seems when the paperback and e-book editions of a book are priced similarly, the Kindle edition doesn’t outsell the paperback edition by a mile (in the long run). A lot of experts argue that the “Dan Brown Phenomenon” is an indication that the Kindle has finally proved itself. But there are too many moving parts here. Whether it’s Jeff Bezos pushing Dan Brown’s e-book hard on Amazon’s front-page or the drastic pricing difference between the two editions of the book, there are just too many factors involved here. Besides, Amazon will still have to address its issues with the publishers. Now that’s a big challenge.
Your take: are publishing industry experts reading too much into all this?