Kindle & Nook Both Bestsellers

Recent somewhat vague announcements from both Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) and Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) have declared the Kindle and the Nook as each company’s best selling product ever, respectively.  Numbers are being kept vague, of course, but estimates have placed Kindle sales for 2010 at over 8 Million units.  The Nook, while slightly less popular, comes up at “millions”, according to the B&N statement.

This isn’t precisely a surprise to anybody, given that eReaders have been increasing in popularity for several years now with these being the most popular offerings on the market by far, but the numbers are somewhat larger than most would have guessed.  Even more important for retailers, analysts are predicting continued growth in the marketplace for this year ahead.  This could be something of a tipping point, pushing eBooks into a position of dominance over the traditional print medium, if all goes well!

We’ve already seem some strong pushes toward that recently, as it happens. There have been reports of over a million books being downloaded to Barnes & Noble customers on Christmas Day alone, with no less than half of that number being counted outside the free offerings that might seem likely to attract new device owners right off the bat as test cases.  Add to this the fact that the Agency Model of eBook pricing seems to be dying off (as indicated by the average pricing of books in the Top 100 Kindle Books list and its B&N Top 100 counterpart), and you have what seems to be a good argument for an increasing rate of rise for the eBook.  Admittedly that last point is a somewhat controversial claim, but I’m not the first to make it and time will demonstrate one way or the other.

Maybe I’m overly hopeful, given my love for the medium…I’m perfectly willing to concede that possibility.  I would like to see the emergence of a market where eBooks show some price difference to the consumer as a result of their streamlined processing.  As somebody who is admittedly outside the industry and not privy to the mysteries associated with its process, it seems ridiculous for something that has required no physical processing to need to cost the same as its equivalent that had to be shipped across the country in order for publishers and authors to earn the same amount.  It would be nice to see a change, is basically what I’m getting at.

At the very least, the bestseller announcements are good news for the ongoing Kindle vs Nook competition.  It’s done some real good over the past couple years in terms of driving eReaders forward.  This milestone, for both the Kindle and Nook product lines, shows that it’s still going.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it manifests itself in the near future now that the Barnes & Noble has jumped into color, but in the long run it is a sure thing that the color Kindle is coming as soon as worthwhile color eReader screen technology is ready and available.  There’s some great momentum here and it can’t be anything but good for us.

Kindle Book Fall Preview

For the Fall, check out Amazon’s Fall Reading Preview in the Kindle Book Store.  Many of these books have upcoming release dates in the next few months.  It has a good selection of books to choose from. It also includes a list of recommendations based on your personal reading interests.

I’m excited that David Sedaris has a new book available.  It is called Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary.  This is a deviation from his usual autobiographical tales, but he still uses a lot of humor and the story still applies to real life situations despite non human characters.  If you aren’t familiar with David Sedaris, you should read Me Talk Pretty One Day, or his previous bestseller, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.  They both had me laughing out loud while reading them.

Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is on the list and is a popular new novel, however the reviews are all over the place for it.  Oprah just selected it as part of her book club.  It is an intense book that touches on issues such as marriage, infidelity, depression and teenage angst and how the characters deal with them.

If you are looking for a good thriller, you’ll find new titles by familiar authors such as Michael Connelly, David Baldacci and Janet Evanovich.  Baldacci’s Hell’s Corner is a new installment of the Oliver Stone and Camel Club series.  It is set in Washington DC near the White House.  Oliver Stone takes on a high profile case that involves an attack against major world leaders.

Nicholas Sparks came out with a new novel, Safe Haven, on September 14.  Unlike his previous sappy love story themed novels, this book has an element of danger.  So that adds a twist that might bring readers back who are bored with his overused romantic plotline.  I had lost interest in Nicholas Sparks until his novel The Last Song came out last year.  It includes a love story, but that was not the focus of the novel.  The focus was the relationship between an angry teenage girl and her estranged father and it turns out to be a very moving story.  The movie based on The Last Song was good as well.

So that is just a brief glimpse of what to look forward to this Fall.  Time to stock up on the fireside reading material for the upcoming chilly nights!

Amazon Drops Free Books From Kindle Bestseller List

Apparently at some point recently, somebody over at Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) gave it some thought and found themselves wondering why so many of their Bestsellers(63/100 as of March 12th) were never actually “sold”, as such.  The plan is to eliminate the free book presence from the Kindle Bestseller list.  The date on this is still up in the air as far as we know, but the apparent aim is to have two lists: one for sold books and one for free ones.

To publishers, this seems like a no-brainer.  It highlights what books people are spending their money on and gives readers a chance to vote with their wallet on whether or not a book does well.  Others, on the other hand, may be hit a bit hard by this move.  It has become somewhat common for new or self-publishing authors to give away a free book or portion of a book in order to direct attention to their further works.

We’ll have to wait and see how this is handled, but I for one am hoping to be able to access both lists on my Kindle device rather than having to shop the website.  I find it interesting to know what new finds people have made lately when I’m looking for something new to pass the time with.

Kindle Book Prices Starting to Climb

With the recent launch of the iPad and battle with book publishers, Amazon’s Kindle book prices are starting to rise.  Books on the bestseller list that used to cap at $9.99 now start at $9.99 and up.  Bestselling author Jodi Picoult’s latest novel, “House Rules”, is available for Kindle at $12.99.  Others such as “The Bridge,” by David Remnick is $14.82 and “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang,” by Chelsea Handler is $12.99.  More info is available in this article from The Baltimore Sun about the Apple iPad’s influence on e-book prices.  There are still a good many bestsellers holding at $9.99, but it remains to be seen what the future holds in terms of e-book price inflation.

It will be interesting to see what the reader response is to the price hike in the long run.  Based on observations of the comments on the Kindle forums, they are not happy campers.  There are many mass market paperbacks available for nearly half the price of the Kindle versions of the same books.  According to the article about the new e-book prices, publishers claim that paperback versions are often printed by different publishers than the Kindle version, thus leading to inconsistent prices.  Time will tell whether the price hike will be a short term or long term issue.  If they stay high for long term, it will be interesting to observe the impact on e-book and e-reader sales.