Sunday, March 30, 2014

BookBub - An ebook Promotion Site.

A few weeks back, I did a post on the price of the top 100 ebooks. In a comment on that post, author Anthea Lawson said one of the reasons for the big increase in cheap ebooks in the top 100 could be sites like BookBub. I had never heard of BookBub, so I went and had a look at their site.  

What is Bookbub?

BookBub is a service that promotes limited-time discounts on ebooks. The discounted ebooks are generally $2.99 or less. BookBub claims to have over two million subscribers who receive daily emails with details of a cheap ebooks. I signed up to receive promos for science fiction and bestselling ebooks.

The BookBub website also lists available ebooks. There were 26 science fiction, 65 fantasy, 9 horror, 29 mystery, and 13 action/adventure ebooks, along with ebooks in other genres listed on the website. Twenty-two of the 26 science fiction ebooks were free, down from prices ranging from 99c to $4.99. Of the four that were not free, two were $2.99, down from $9.99, and two were $1.99, down from $4.99 and $7.99.

What’s in it for the Writer?


BookBub is another way of promoting a writer’s work. It costs money. To promote a free science fiction ebook costs $100. A science fiction ebook discounted to under $1 costs $200; from $1 - $2 costs $300, and $500 for an ebook over $2. Mystery authors pay the most: $300 for a free ebook; $600 for an ebook that is less than $1; $900 for a $1 - $2 ebook and $1500 for an ebook over $2. Prices vary for other genres.

BookBub only promotes about 30% of ebooks submitted to it. The ebooks have to be error free. They rarely promote new releases as books that have been around for a while have had more chance to build up a platform. Many of the blurbs that accompanied the ebook promos sent to me mentioned the high number of reviews the ebook had received on Amazon.  

Does Bookbub Increase Sales?

BookBub claims that the average downloads of a free science fiction ebook being promoted are a nice round 8000, but only 630 for a discounted ebook. For a mystery, 19,700 for free ebooks and 1,890 for discounted ebooks. It is not clear whether these download figures are just for the promotional period.

So a self-publishing science fiction author who discounts his ebook to $2.99 and gets an average increase in downloads stands to make (630 x $2.99) – $500 = $1383. If the discount is to 99c it is (630 x .99) - $200 = $423. For a mystery it is (1890 x $2.99) - $1500 = $4151.

I checked to see whether any of the ebooks I had received BookBub promos for in the past week were in the top 100 science fiction Kindle list. Two were, one was number 22, the other 77. But how much did the BookBub promotion have to do with those sales as most authors would have promoted the discount in a variety of other ways. And how were the sales going before the promotion?  

Anthea Lawson said in her comment on my blog that BookBub works. When she ran a promotion discounting her ebook for one week in September last year, her historical romance made it to number 28 in the Kindle store overall.

But there is debate on blogs, such as The Digital Reader, about BookBub losing its effectiveness as a sales tool. Some authors say promotions by sites such as BookBub don’t seem to be as effective at raising an ebook’s ranking anymore, but this may be due to Amazon changing its bestselling lists algorithms.     

I have not been tempted, so far, to buy, or download for free, any of the ebooks that BookBub has promoted to me over the past three weeks. As for whether discount sites like BookBub invalidate any conclusions I come to about the price of ebooks in the top 100 Kindle best seller lists, who knows.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A review of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian

Blood Meridian is set in North America in the 1850’s. Most of the action takes place in Mexico. The book follows a 19 year-old boy who after a few misadventures, joins a band of men lead by the real life John Glanton, an ex-Texas Ranger. They head to Mexico to hunt down marauding Apache Indians and get paid for their scalps. They kill a lot of Indians, but then start killing Mexicans.

Similar to McCarthy’s The Road, Blood Meridian reads like watching a film, with no interior monologues from the characters and very little dialogue. So a reader’s only real clue to a character’s motivations is by observing what they do. All the men in the gang appear to be amoral killers totally devoid of empathy for anyone. There are no heroes in this novel. It shows the west as an ugly violent place where only the strong and the uncompromising survive.

According to Wikipedia “Academics and critics have variously suggested that Blood Meridian is nihilistic or strongly moral; a satire of the western genre, a savage indictment of Manifest Destiny “(In the 19th century, Manifest Destiny was the widely held belief in the United States that American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent). “Harold Bloom called it "the ultimate western;" J. Douglas Canfield described it as "a grotesque Bildungsroman in which we are denied access to the protagonist's consciousness almost entirely."

Blood Meridian is not an easy book to read. It’s written in a style that will challenge many readers and have most reaching for a dictionary. Some of the limited dialogue is even in Spanish, but a careful reader should figure out what the conversation is about. Much of the book involves long descriptions of the surrounding countryside as the gang rides from one slaughter to the next. It’s left to the reader to decide what the characters are thinking while they ride.

This is a novel for those who enjoy a challenging read.

My next post will be about the ebook promotional site Bookbub.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Survey of the Price of the Top 100 Selling ibooks on March 2.

My last post analysed the prices of the top 100 selling ebooks on Amazon when I checked on the 2nd of March 2014. In the comments on that post I was made aware of some issues that might question the usefulness of the data I had collected. I will have more to say about that in my next post. But I promised that I would do the same analysis of Apple's top 100 selling ibooks from March 2nd, so here it is. 

Prices of top 100 selling ibooks. 



It is obvious that the majority of ibooks in the top 100 bestseller list sold for $5.99 or less. With 99c and $2.99 being the most popular prices on the list. It is interesting that only four were priced from $6.99 to $8.99. But then there were seven at $9.99, five at $11.99 and eight at $12.99. So some readers obviously want cheap ibooks while others are willing to pay more. 

In three previous surveys only a few books on the list were 99 cents, but this time there were 17 at that price.

The number selling at $2.99 has been stable, averaging 16.

The number on the list selling for $3.99 has slightly decreased.

The number at $4.99 appears to have peaked in November and be decreasing again. 


The number of ibooks on the list at $7 or more is decreasing. This mirrors what I found is happening with ebooks, that the price of electronic books making the top 100 bestselling list is decreasing. 

My next post will examine Bookbub, one of the reasons why this decrease in price may be occurring.