Thursday, August 21, 2014

Survey of the price of the top 100 selling ebooks in August.

I recently read an article in The Age that said the sales of ebooks were increasing, but the value of ebook sales had not increased. This suggests either the prices of ebooks are dropping or the price customers are buying ebooks for is decreasing. So I thought it was once more time to have a look at the prices of the top 100 Kindle ebooks.

On August 22, at approximately 3pm Australian time, the graph above shows the prices of the top 100 Kindle ebooks. The best selling prices were obviously 0.99 cents, $1.99 and $4.99 with about half as many priced at $2.99 and $3.99.


The number of ebooks priced at 99cents decreased to 16, continuing a downward trend that began at the end of 2013.


The number of ebooks in the top 100 at $1.99 continues to increase, reaching its highest number in all the surveys. 


Only seven were $2.99. After making a comeback over recent surveys, the number priced at $2.99 has dropped to its lowest on record. The gurus who say $2.99 is the price to sell self-published ebooks won't be happy.

It seems the very cheap ebook might be on the wain after peaking in the previous survey.


The number of ebooks priced at $3.99 appears to have bottomed out at eight.


The number priced at $4.99 is very much on the rise. Fifteen of the $4.99 ebooks were in the top 50. 


The rise in the number of ebooks in the top 100 priced $7 or more, combined with the fall in the number of ebooks priced $2.99 or less, suggests consumers are willing to pay more for their ebooks. But this might be an aberration. On its face value, my survey data would appear to contradict The Age article's suggestion that ebook prices are decreaing.   

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A review of Lucy.

Lucy is a strange science-fiction movie. Not so much because of its subject matter, more because it flirts with so many science-fiction sub-genres. But more about that latter. The film begins in Taiwan where Lucy, Scarlett Johansson, is exposed to a new experimental drug and finds her brain capacity greatly expanded. This increases her ability to acquire knowledge and opens up abilities like telekinesis. To find out what is happening to her brain she contacts a brain researcher played by Morgan Freeman. 

Lucy does not seem to know what sort of science-fiction film it wants to be. It starts out as a thriller with Lucy’s boyfriend trapping her in a very dangerous situation. For most of its running time the movie is very much an action/adventure movie, as Lucy attempts to extract herself from the mess she is in. In amongst the action, the film superficially explores the potential of an expanded human brain. Near the end the movie attempts some revelations about the meaning of life. 

The film was written and directed by mega-film maker Luc Besson, who also wrote and directed the excellent The Fifth Element. Some of his direction seems a bit bizarre, like his use of scenes of animals that are about to be trapped or attacked, or are copulating at the beginning of the movie. These scenes jar the viewer out of the movie. They seem designed to emphasise that humans who use only ten percent of their brains are motivated by primitive animal instincts. The movie than asks the question, what would motivate a human if they used more than ten per cent of their brain? 

Scarlet Johansson is believable and involving as her character’s terror transforms into the emotional indifference of a seeker of knowledge. Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman. The special effects are realistic. 

The ending of the film is reminiscent of Altered States and 2001: A Space Odyssey, as Lucy goes on a visual trip while her brain ponders the universe. There is a very obvious tribute to 2001 involving a USB flash drive. It is a pity Lucy doesn’t attempt to answer the big questions like 2001 did.

Lucy is enjoyable to watch, but will disappoint those hoping to be challenged by ideas. Once a viewer exits the cinema, their animal instincts will quickly replace any examination of the film’s superficial meanings.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Best Time to Blog.

Hand drawn vector illustration set of social media sign and symbol doodles elements. Isolated on white background - stock vector
I recently read a blog post titled A Scientific Guide to Posting Tweets, Facebook Posts, Emails and Blog Posts at the Best Times, by Belle Beth Cooper. The post had me thinking about the random nature of my blog posts. I have been trying to post once a week. For a while that used to be on Monday, but as my posts began to require more research it slipped to later in the week, with a few last desperate attempts on Sundays.

I had not really noticed if the day or time I posted affected the amount of views or comments. I was thinking the number of views or comments had more to do with the topic of the post. Like if I reviewed a current film or talked about television science-fiction I usually get more hits and comments than when I review a book. When I write about ebook sales, the number of comments seems to increase too.

But what other factors affect the number of views or comments on my posts. One factor that seems to limit comments is the perceived difficulty of making comments on Blogger due to the authentication process. But having being inundated by spam when I remove it, I’ve decided to keep it on. Another factor that might affect the number of views my blog gets is the time I post.

Best Time to Post.


According to Cooper’s post, 70% of people read blogs in the morning. My blog is aimed at readers and writers of science-fiction, and a fair few of my social media connections are writers. I can imagine many of those writers being procrastinators, like me, so they would probably read blogs in the morning.

Cooper’s post says Monday is the highest traffic day, with 11am being the highest traffic hour. But she warns that if a lot of blogs post at this time, a post is more likely to be lost in the noise.

Cooper’s research also shows that comments are usually highest on Saturdays and around 9 am on most days.

I had a look at my stats for Blogger over the past month. My traffic is greatest on the day I post and the day after. No other day stood out. There is no real pattern. My posting time varied from morning to evening too, and I have not noticed the time of day I post having any effect on views. My comments also seem to be highest on the day after I post.

Plugging a Post.

I plug my posts on Facebook and Twitter and in a few other places. According to Cooper’s research, 18% more people engage with Facebook on Thursdays and Fridays. Friday is one day when I seem to get more comments on my status updates. Early afternoon is supposedly the best time to post.

Cooper’s research also found evidence that 32% more people engage with Facebook on the weekends. I would have to disagree with this as Facebook is definitely quieter for me on weekends. Perhaps many of my writer friends are following the traditional alcoholism path, so they are too hung-over to engage with Facebook on the weekends.

The blog post says that getting other users to engage in a discussion after dinner on Facebook is a long shot.

I tweet, but not very much. I generally only use it to plug a blog post or article I have up on the Divine website.  I view Twitter as a platform where the majority of users are just plugging something.

So when is the best time to plug something on Twitter? According to Cooper’s post, many people are using their mobiles to access Twitter when they commute. So the best time to get a tweet noticed would probably be 7.30 am to 9.00 am or 5 pm to 6.30 pm.

If I want to increase my blog traffic it seems I should be posting on Mondays at 11 am while plugging that post on Facebook on Friday afternoons and on Twitter during commute times. 

So when do you read blogs? And when do you engage most with Facebook? And if you bother with Twitter, when do you make time to follow links in tweets?