ebook sales dataIt goes without saying that Amazon have given writers a fantastic publishing platform and have removed the shackles that once bound the book publishing industry. With Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace, Amazon allows any author or small publisher to get their books to the market easily, efficiently and economically. At the same time, it’s a two-way street. The popularity of self publishing and the acceptance of it by readers has given Amazon a huge chunk of the book market and has underpinned the success of the Kindle e-reader.

From this, logic would dictate that the more successful and saleable authors become, the more profit will be made by Amazon. If this is the case however, Amazon could do a lot more to support the authors that are helping Amazon reap the profits.

Amazon are famously, or more likely, infamously known for their lack of transparency and secrecy. This attitude creates a handicap when it comes to trying to analyse book sales. For those who are publishing via Amazon in paperback or ebook, the amount of sales data available could best be described as minimalist to the extreme. Basically it’s just units sold and royalty received.

Without breaking their ‘code of silence‘ or privacy rules, Amazon could be a little more helpful and in doing so would assist publishers increase sales and therefore increase Amazon’s profits. While the following ideas will surely never be forthcoming, it would make for a better publishing world if Amazon helped out just a little.

Sales by region. While Kindle sales are reported from US (inc. India) there is no breakdown as to where sales came from. Indiana or India? US sales also come from many countries not serviced by an Amazon Store, so without this information it is impossible to know if a book is more popular in New York, New Delhi or New Zealand.

Repeat sales. Do readers buy other books by the same author? If they buy one particular book, is there a trend as to which book they buy next? This information would be invaluable in knowing which titles to promote.

Sales by time. When do people buy books? Morning afternoon or evening. Do they buy more books on the weekend? As social media plays such an important role in book marketing, this would be very useful information.

Free promotions data. So little data is available for a KDP Select promotion. While a little is given during a promotion by listing the book’s ‘free bestseller‘ rating, this information disappears immediately and is lost forever. It makes this form of promotion really ‘hit and miss’ and leaves one using guess work in trying to decide when, how long and how often to use free book promotion.

A longer 100. All of Amazon’s bestseller lists are based on only one hundred books. With the number of books available now, surely one thousand would be a better list so that more books could get some extra exposure.

Rank. Unless your book is in the top one hundred in it’s genre, it’s a pain to have to use external sites to ascertain a book’s Amazon ranking. Surely Amazon could give this information to authors in an easy to find location.

So, what’s on your Amazon wish list?

What Amazon Could Do For Authors
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11 thoughts on “What Amazon Could Do For Authors

  • 03/10/2012 at 3:19 pm

    Totally agree.
    I have a self-[ublished book on Amazon and if I could get that info too, it would help me a lot

    • 03/10/2012 at 10:27 pm

      We don’t get much Ani. Just a few clues would help.

  • 03/10/2012 at 9:21 pm

    Great points, Derek. As a marketer by trade myself, not knowing where a sale came from and not having the ability to follow up and stay in contact with a potential repeat buyer/reader absolutely kills me… We can hope.


    • 03/10/2012 at 10:26 pm

      I wouldn’t expect a book buyers individual details Steve, but just a little hint about location and recent buying preferences would be nice.

      • 04/10/2012 at 12:53 am

        Maybe not necessarily direct contact, but perhaps the ability to push out messages to past buyers within the system. Amazon certainly has that ability…being able to announce the next book in a series to buyers of the previous one would be excellent.

        • 04/10/2012 at 9:31 pm

          True Steve. Amazon have the data and ability but are extremely unwilling to let vendors have access to this information. Would be nice though.

  • 03/10/2012 at 11:38 pm

    Wouldn’t it be nice too if they gave some indication of the numbers of free samples downloaded and even better what percentage of those went on to buy the book.

  • 04/10/2012 at 4:16 pm

    Oh my, I’m shocked to hear that Amazon doesn’t provide this info you listed. Even Facebook can give you demographic info on a Fan Page. I guess its possible they don’t track some themselves (like time of sale) but most likely they do or can. Do you know if other sellers like B&N or Smashwords are providing any of these performance indicators?

    It would be helpful to know how many people add your book to their Wish List and then go on to buy. Or how many read the sample and then go on to buy. Also if your book is gifted instead of purchased directly.

    In your opinion and with experience in dealing with Amazon, do you anticipate this changing?

    • 04/10/2012 at 9:29 pm

      Amazon will not change Kat. Well, if they do it will be in extra small baby steps as they just don’t have a history of sharing data at all with vendors. As an example, Amazon now allow me to see sales by geographic region. BUT, only for books and not ebooks and only in the US. Hardly earth shattering information.

  • 05/10/2012 at 10:36 pm

    Thanks raising these points, Derek. Sales by region is definitely something I would find helpful. Good alliteration there, by the way ( New York, New Delhi, New Zealand).

    My other wish is for Amazon.com.au. It seems odd to me that a small country like Denmark can have an Amazon store but not Australia. :-(

    • 05/10/2012 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks for noticing my fetish for alliteration JB! And as an expat Aussie, I am also surprised that Amazon haven’t opened a dedicated store in Australia/NZ. Soon hopefully, as at present I can’t tell how many of my sales are in Australia, which I would really love to know.

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