Those in peril may not be print sales

The performance of thriller writer Wilbur Smith's latest book suggests that e-book sales (at very low prices) do not necessarily threaten print book sales. In fact, as we saw with The Hanging Shed, digital can help drive print.

The print edition of Those in Peril became Smith's seventh consecutive hardback number one - each of the seven books he's penned since records began in 1998 has reached the top of the HB Fiction chart and this year he achieved the feat with his strongest ever opening week sale.

In the week ending 2nd April, Those in Peril sold an impressive 27,639 copies in HB - up 1,454 copies on his previous personal best (set by Blue Horizon way back in March 2003).

In addition, the e-edition of Those in Peril has TOPPED Apple's iBooks chart, and has come very close to topping both the Amazon Kindle and WHS eBook charts (and it is currently in the Waterstone's e0book Top 50).

So its record-breaking print sale is all the more impressive. Surely, given the fact the e-edition is at the sharp end of all major e-tailer charts, and Amazon and Apple are selling the e-book at just £5.99 – a good £3.50 cheaper than the major book retailers are selling the print edition (after discount), its print sales should have been affected?

In fact, what the data hints at is that Smith has GAINED MORE THAN ENOUGH PRINT READERS to compensate the LOSS OF SOME OF THEM TO THE DIGITAL SPHERE. And he would have lost some given Amazon and Apple are offering sweet 68% discounts on the £19 r.r.p. of the print edition, and 50% off the "digital list price"*.


Amz: £5.99 (-68% off)
App: £5.99 (-68% off)
Waterstone's: £13.30 (-30% off)
WHS: £13.30 (-30% off)

Print editions
Amz: £8.49 (-55% off) £9.49 (-50% off) £9.49 (-50% off) £9.49 (-50% off) £11.39 (-40% off) £12.99 (-32% off)

* We are not sure that digital list price means, except that Amazon doesn't use it to calculate its discount offer. While both WHS and Waterstone's are selling the e-book at above this price.



Digital increases reach and visibility

steveemecz's picture

Great insight and perhaps suggests that hardback buyers may also be Kindle, iPad, Kobo, Nook, users in other contexts. I have a close friend who reads hardbacks at home, but travels a lot and does so with his eReader. Flagging the new Wilbur Smith to him when he is ebook shopping gives him the choice where to read it. I suspect that Wilbur Smith may fit in the category of best read in a relaxed comfortable environment with the added thrill and feel of a quality hardback. May not work so well for the latest Katie Price.....

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