J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy (Sphere) proved to be the e-book bestseller in August with sales totalling 46,229 units—37% of the title’s total sales of 125,064 across all editions. It is Rowling’s second consecutive number one of the Official e-book sales ranking; her Roberth Galbraith title The Cuckoo’s Calling was top in July.
However, The Casual Vacancy’s 37% digital share is one of the lowest in the Ranking.
Thirty-seven books saw a greater proportion of their sales come from digital editions—including eight of the nine books that are only available to buy in hardback formats on the high streeet. Once again, it appears expensive books are more attractive to e-reader owners than printed book buyers.
This month’s E-book Sales Ranking is marked by the summer promotions, which meant a number of e-books were disqualified for having sold during the period for under £2. An analysis of publisher sales data for the four-week period ending 31st August, combined with The Bookseller’s in-house analysis of Amazon.co.uk’s Kindle bestseller list suggests that 36 e-book bestsellers in the month were discounted to under £1 by the market-leading e-book retailer for at least 24 hours in the four-week period. Of the 36, 25 were available for under £1 throughout the four-week period, while 11 were members of Nook’s “Hot Summer Books” promotion, which was price-matched by Amazon.co.uk until the promotion ended on 5th August.
A number of the books featured in the promotion were selling in impressive numbers before their prices were slashed. They include: George R R Martin’s A Game of Thrones (Harper Voyager), Richard Madeley’s Some Day I’ll Find You (Simon & Schuster), Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (Hesperus) and Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer’s The Fast Diet (Short Books). All four earned positions in July’s E-book Sales Ranking, and all four would have earned positions in this month’s Ranking were it not for the discounting rule.
Of the titles that were not discounted to below £2, Erotica is also more attractive to e-book buyers. Just one of the top 50 bestselling printed books in the month of August was an erotic novel. Seven earn places in the E-book Ranking. It certainly appears that there is still a taboo about being caught reading such material, despite the mainstream success of the Fifty Shades series.