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1001nights
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Registered: ‎03-10-2012
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How can I have a sales ranking if I've never sold a copy?

So, one of my titles has a sales ranking--yet I've never sold a copy (not on BN, at least--I have on other sites, thankfully).

 

Is this a sale that wasn't reported? From how long ago? Makes me wonder about other unreported sales, that I would have no way of noticing. :smileysad:

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eB00k
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎12-09-2012
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Re: How can I have a sales ranking if I've never sold a copy?

Hi 1001nights,

 

My wife recently published her first ebook on B&N via PubIt! and we timed how long it would take a sale to be reported. It took about 36 hours. I don't know if this is typical (our test was just for one sale) but if it normally takes between 1.5 to 2 days for a sale to be reported to the author/publisher, then perhaps this would explain your observations.

 

We were discouraged by the slow resporting. Domestic sales are reported almost instantaneously at Amazon.

 

Kind regards, David

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EclecticMango
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Registered: ‎03-26-2012
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Re: How can I have a sales ranking if I've never sold a copy?

My tests usually show sales appearing within an hour after I purchase a book. Lately, I've been seeing sales tacked onto the monthly report that didn't show up in the daily one--pretty much ever since Sandy. Once a few months ago, I got a whole bunch of sales tacked onto the monthly report for several of my books, which might have been a correction after an internal audit. So maybe the sale will show up sometime? B&N has been making a lot of not-very-well-tested changes lately, in addition to recovering from the storm, so there are bound to be glitches that hopefully get caught by their auditing teams. I had a weird experience at Amazon where a sale registered for a book I had unpublished three months earlier. I'm pretty sure both companies run internal audits of their IT systems and correct any mistakes that come up. My experience with these kinds of IT audits is that they typically occur monthly, quarterly, and yearly.
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1001nights
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Re: How can I have a sales ranking if I've never sold a copy?

Well, this would be a delayed sale (or more than one?) of several weeks. I did write to PubIt. I got--and this will surprise people--a form response saying all of their sales reports are accurate, and no more information is available. They made no reference to the title in question, and did not give a date of supposed sale.

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eB00k
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Re: How can I have a sales ranking if I've never sold a copy?

Greetings again,

 

I just learned a bit more about the PubIt! Sales Report by clicking on the "More Info" link on the page. Evidently you can't take their labels such as "This Month" at face value.

 

According to the descriptions provided, the "This Month" total is a "net" value that covers the 1st day through yesterday—it does not include today's sales. Therefore, the "This Month" figures are always one day behind and this explains why sales that you "know" took place "today" do not show up in the monthly figure until later.

 

This could explain why, an author's sales ranking may be out of sync with the "This Month" sales figure.

 

Why PubIt! does it this way is beyond me. I think the "This Month" figure should include ALL sales for the current month with no exceptions. I also would like them to list returns separately like Amazon does. PubIt! simply subtracts the returns from the total "This Month" figure and presents a "net" figure. You have no way of knowing if there are any returns and, if so, how many.

 

Kind regards, David

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TSCerys
Posts: 101
Registered: ‎12-25-2010
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Re: How can I have a sales ranking if I've never sold a copy?

B&N doesn't really allow returns the same way that Amazon does.  You -can- return a book, but unless it's improperly formatted or there's some other obvious issue(terrible editing, etc.) then they don't usually allow it.  Also, to return an eBook you have to contact customer service and go through hoops, so most of the time it's a hassle and no one does it.

 

I've had 1 return charge over the past four months on B&N, and it was more likely due to error/credit card fraud than anything else(someone bought 3 copies of a book, and then those 3 copies were returned at once).

 

Simple eBook returns are more of an Amazon only thing.  Most other places disallow it(here, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes, etc.) or keep a better eye on the return process(as I feel it should be, but Amazon can do what they like, I guess, considering they are the lion's share of the eBook market at the moment so it's not like they're going to lose authors because of it).

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eB00k
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Re: How can I have a sales ranking if I've never sold a copy?

Hi TSCerys,

 

Thanks for the explanation. But it leads to another question: If B&N discourages returns and makes it difficult, why do their payments to authors lag by 2 months? I assumed it was to allow for returns to be settled before making payment to an author. Perhaps this is just my ignorance of accepted practice but 2 months seems a long time for products and transactions that are handled purely electronically. It gives me the impression that B&N doesn't really want to deal with ebooks.

 

I heard some statistics about e-reader sales that agreed with what you wrote about Amazon having the lion's share of the market. The Kindles are the biggest sellers and the biggest market is predominantly females buying romance fiction. However, male readers tended to favor the Nook by a very small margin. I don't know if that edge for the Nook among male readers will persist considering the many problems being reported with the Nook HD+ right now (centered or poor build quality).

 

From my limited experience Amazon treats people better. It doesn't matter whether I'm buying something or publishing an ebook, they seem to genuinely try to help make the process as easy as possible. They're obviously not perfect and I've got some major beefs with them on a matter or two. But I look positively at their ebook returns policy because I believe it makes it less intimidating for new ebook customers to test the waters.

 

Kind regards, David

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TSCerys
Posts: 101
Registered: ‎12-25-2010
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Re: How can I have a sales ranking if I've never sold a copy?

I can't say for sure why B&N waits that long for payments.  Amazon does, too.  Amazon only offers a 7 day window for general returns, so it's not like the return policy is the reason, either.

 

It's possible that they don't collect all of the money right away, which is my guess for it.  How credit cards work, basically, is when someone buys something, it's subtracted from their "account"(or however you want to think of it), and put into an "account" to go to the payee.  For a big business like B&N or Amazon, it might make more sense to only collect the money from that account once a month(or whatever), since it's possible they are charged a flat fee for every time they do.  It's more cost effective to pay the fee once than to pay it a bunch of times.

 

Also, sometimes sales don't show up properly on the month to date report.  This doesn't mean you don't have them, and they aren't accounted for, but they are lagging behind for whatever reason.  I haven't seen this as much with B&N, but Amazon does this a lot where you'll see one number on the month to date, an entirely different number on the 6 week report, and then still yet another number on the monthly report(for last months, when they come out around the 15th).  During Hurricane Sandy time, B&N had some lagging sales due to storm issues and all that, and it's possible that one or two lag behind here and there and then are updated later.

 

In general, for them, it's probably just a better idea to wait a bit, let things settle, hold off a little, and give everyone the correct amount instead of rushing the job and potentially missing a couple of sales or doing something inefficiently, then get accused of skimming money off the top.

 

Also, eReaders in general are going downhill as far as sales.  Even the Kindle is being hit with this.  You can't really judge Kindle/Nook sales much anymore in regards to eBooks, because now a lot of people read eBooks on their tablets(which are really cool and I think this is a great idea).  With a tablet, you can have the Kindle Reader App, the Nook one, whatever else one you want, and/or a general purpose(Like Adobe Digital Editions) to read your stuff.  Then you don't have to worry about being "stuck" to the Kindle or Nook store, since you can buy whatever you want wherever you want and still be able to read it.

 

You can also find lots of different books between the stores, since B&N accepts some stuff that Amazon doesn't, and Amazon has their KDP Select program that would lock people out of putting their books up on B&N.  It's a good practice(as a buyer) to have an all-purpose device for eBook usage for this reason.

 

Random anecdotal evidence, but my US book sales are fairly even in terms of B&N and Amazon(B&N is a little higher currently).  Amazon UK sells way better for me, but they've existed longer, too.  Amazon DE is decent, too(small numbers, but consistent small numbers month to month).  The other Amazon stores are basically -maybe- a sale every couple of months or so.

 

In regards to customer support, I do like Amazon a slight bit more, since they have more options and such.  To be fair, they outsource most of this to India, though(which is fine, and all of the customer service reps I've dealt with are great and fix my problems nicely).  As a previously ENTIRELY US based company, B&N might not have had any reason to want to outsource, and so stuck with a smaller, limited "local" customer service staff.  That's a 100% pure guess, and I have no idea if it's correct.  Amazon was also the first company to really get into self-publishing eBooks, so they've always been a bit ahead of the game.  Other places are catching up fast now, though, and there's not as large a disparity between eBook retailers as there was a few years ago.

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eB00k
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Registered: ‎12-09-2012
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Re: How can I have a sales ranking if I've never sold a copy?

[ Edited ]

Hi TSCerys,

 

That's interesting about the drop in dedicated e-reader sales. What is the source for that information? I thought e-reader sales were still accelerating because the market is young and many of the newer e-readers are, themselves tablets that offer much broader appeal. Plus, the ones that are not, offer features that tablets can't match (like e-ink with easy readability in sunlight and fantastic battery life).

 

Besides, since both the Nook color models and Kindle Fire models are Android tablets, can't a user install other e-reader apps on them as well? The features/price ratio for them is better than most equivalent third-party tablets. Some have speculated that Amazon has been selling the Kindle Fire at a loss because they make money via selling publications and services.

 

Kind regards, David

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TSCerys
Posts: 101
Registered: ‎12-25-2010
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Re: How can I have a sales ranking if I've never sold a copy?

Here are some straight up recent numbers/projections, but there's a bunch of articles about this kind of thing.  Many of the articles are from last year, so not entirely up to date, but the same ideas still hold true.

 

http://www.marketsize.com/blog/index.php/2012/12/11/tablets-versus-e-readers/

 

It is true that the Nook HD and the Kindle Fire are basically glorified tablets.  It's also true that the Kindle Paperwhite and the Nook SimpleTouch have very long battery lives.  They do use Android and you could probably install other eReader apps onto them, too, so it's true that this isn't a concern to tech-minded people.

 

The average person isn't really tech-minded, though.  Also, not everyone likes/wants the Android OS(no idea why, just random bias on their part).  A lot of people have iPads or whatever, and those can function in the same way as an eReader(plus the added benefit of getting apps from iTunes).  Tablets also come out at a newer rate than eReaders, in general.  And a tablet is going to have a lot more customization capabilities over a Kindle Fire or Nook HD.  Besides that, they'll generally have better/more RAM, CPUs, and onboard GPUs since the Kindle Fire/Nook HD are mainly for eBook reading, with the added benefit of being able to do other stuff.

 

Just generally speaking, tablets have a lot more uses than eReaders, and the projections/numbers are heading towards 10x as many tablet owners as eReader owners.  Dedicated eReaders do have their benefits(Paperwhite's 8 week+ battery life is pretty tempting for some things), but there's going to be a TON of tablet owners soon.  Granted, not every person who owns a tablet is going to be purchasing eBooks, but even if only 1/10th of them do, that's the same number of people who own an eBook reader.

 

And, yeah, I have no doubts that Amazon and B&N take a heavy loss on all the Nook/Kindle models.  They more than make up for it with eBook sales, though.  There's very little in the way of overhead for those, so for Amazon/B&N, every eBook sale is basically free money.  They can afford to sell eReaders for cheap because of this.  It's actually probably very beneficial for them to NOT sell as many eReaders with tablets becoming far more popular, since then they don't lose money on them.  They'd obviously want to sell off what they have now, but being able to make/stock less in the future is a hefty chunk of savings which can be put towards other things(like maybe more customer service related features/cooler eBook stuff).

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eB00k
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Registered: ‎12-09-2012
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Re: How can I have a sales ranking if I've never sold a copy?

Hi TSCerys,

 

Thanks for the link. It seeks to answer a different question than we were discussing by comparing the estimated market size of tablets versus e-readers without addressing what portion of tablet users are also regular ebook readers. I doubt that anyone would expect e-readers would supplant tablets for general use.

 

What their comparison does not say is whether the trend of people who regularly read ebooks is toward e-readers or tablets. And I think your point about typical readers not being tech savvy works in favor of dedicated e-readers rather than tablets.

 

Personally, I don't know the answer. But I think e-reader sales are doing better than you think among lovers of books. My view is partly intuition but it is also based on Amazon running out of stock of some Kindle models from time to time.

 

I'll conclude with this last comment (since we've wondered way off topic)...

 

My household is trending in the opposite direction. Until now we've been reading ebooks on just about everything BUT a dedicated e-reader. We have Adobe, Kindle and Nook reader apps installed on our Android smartphones, tablets, notebooks and desktop PCs. (I have four personal devices on my Amazon account, alone. Two of them are also on my B&N account.) We probably do most e-reading on our smartphones. We're software developers and are definitely in the tech savvy group. Yet we're planning to add e-readers for a variety of reasons. First, we love the Paperwhite Kindle for mostly text. Second, we plan to add a few of the color e-readers like the Fire HD 8.9 for multimedia with Kindle Prime.

 

In our case, the e-readers won't replace any of our other devices. They'll compliment them. If we're not at home, we'll probably still use our smarphones to read. But when we're home, we'll use the e-readers because they're so much more comfortable—especially the Paperwhite.

 

However, I doubt that the majority of regular ebook readers are like my family. I suspect that most will want to move toward fewer devices. And we may follow that direction, ourselves, in a few specific cases (like merging smarphone and tablet with the Samsung Note II, the next smarphone my wife and I each plan to get). Whichever system can offer the most seamless integration will probably win the most non-techie customers. From my vantage, there are only two contenders for this right now and that is Apple and Amazon. Why? Because they're trying to offer comprehensive systems and they've amassed the most content—including multimedia. I wouldn't be surprised if they give old outlets like TV and cable some serious competition.

 

Kind regards, David