How Popular Are Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deals?

Discount Sale

Every day Amazon features a new ebook at a discounted price on their “Daily Deals” page. But this weekend, the New York Times revealed just how many sales that can generate for an ebook. Their example was “Gone, Baby, Gone,” a 1998 detective novel which was released for the Kindle in 2009. On one Sunday this month, it sold just 23 copies. But the very next day it sold 13,071 copies — after being featured as one of Amazon’s “Daily Deals.”

“[H]undreds of thousands of readers had received an e-mail notifying them of a 24-hour price cut,” the Times explains, adding that it’s helping even older novels turn into temporary best-sellers. “It works,” one publisher tells the newspaper, adding that it’s a great way to catch the interest of Amazon’s ebook shoppers. It’s easier for publishers to experiment with different prices on an ebook, since the price isn’t stamped in indelible ink on the cover (like the prices of most printed books). And in a world where fewer people are browsing through all the bookshelves at real-world bookstores, “Daily Deals” might ultimately become one of the new ways that readers choose what they’re going to read next.

The Times comes up more interesting examples — including an ebook by music journalist Tom Moon (a contributor to both Rolling Stone and NPR’s All Things Considered). He’d written a fascinating ebook titled “1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die” — which, unfortunately, was selling less than one copy a day (according to Amazon’s vice president for Kindle content). After being featured as a “Daily Deal,” it sold 10,000 copies in its first 24 hours. And the effect can be even more dramatic for an established author like Stephen King. When his novel “Under the Dome” was featured as a Kindle Daily Deal last December, it sold more than 30,000 copies!

There’s also an interesting statistic tucked away in the article — especially if you’re an aspiring writer. The sales seem to peak on Wednesday and Thursday, at least for the daily deals in Barnes and Noble’s Nook Store — presumably because readers are stocking up on ebooks that they’re planning to read over the weekend. “Those are really good days to get the right piece of content in front of someone,” says the Nook’s Vice President for ebooks. And there’s also a delightful story about an Oregon author was informed by her publisher that, for the first time ever, one of her novels had finally become a New York Times best-seller.

Of course, it’s important to remember that the high sales are at a lower price. So even that one-day spike of 13,071 sales for “Gone, Baby, Gone” represent sales of less than $30,000, and after Amazon’s cut, the publisher and author probably went home with even less. But the Times points out that these ebooks remain on the best-seller list for more than one day, and in at least one example, the ebook sold “steadily” even in the days after its one-day promotion — and at twice the rate that it had before.

That’s actually something I worry about. Will the Kindle’s best-seller lists get clogged up with nothing but past “Daily Deal” picks? Someday readers may have no real way of knowing which ebooks were so spontaneously attracted a mass following — because there’ll be so many other ebooks that achieved “artificially-generated” spurts of popularity on the same day. Of course, I use more than the best-seller lists to determine which ebooks I buy — and I’m sure other readers do, too.

And the discounts do make it really easy to try reading something new!

For a shortcut to Amazon’s “Daily Deals” page for ebooks, just point your browser to