Kindle sales of a book could be as much as 80% of its physical sales, Amazon's head of Kindle content told Digital Book World.
Russ Grandinetti's speech, 'To Help Publishers Optimize E-book Sales', coincided with the launch of Kindle Singles on Amazon's Kindle store. The singles are 5,000-30,000 'killer idea' pieces from the likes of bestselling authors like Jodi Picoult as well as academics and journalists. They are priced between 99 cents and $4.99.
Speaking during the final afternoon of Digital Book World, Grandinetti said it was “not uncommon” for Kindle sales “to be 20-30-40-50-80% of a BookScan number” in 2010. Several executives from major houses later said that especially for their biggest Christmas titles, they could confirm seeing this trend borne out. Grandinetti added: “However fast you think change is happening, it’s happening faster than you think.”
While Amazon has been cagey about its data, customers bought 3.3 times more books in the 12 months after buying a Kindle. He also discussed the effect of agency pricing on titles, referring to 12 week sales of James Patterson's Jack and Jill pre-and-post agency pricing. He said: "There was a 48% drop in units with the $2 increase in price."
Grandinetti stressed the importance of pricing but also highlighted that books were not just competing against other titles, but other media like gaming and films.
He added with the spread of Kindle and the tremendous linguistic currency of English in non-native markets, the opportunities in providing access to English-language content to customers all over the world cannot be underestimated.
He also reiterated the importance for publishers to have a full digital catalogue available. "Print and digital units are going faster for publishers who have more titles up in e-books...Frontlist drives backlist. You need to have an author’s backlist up when a new book comes out."
Print on demand was increasingly important to Amazon, Grandinetti said. He urged publishers to consider it for a greater proportion of their catalogue. He said publishers sales will suffer without the safety net of print on demand if a book is out of stock.