(Posted from The Publeconomist, published 08/24/10)
If you’ve never heard about AmazonEncore, now’s the time to find out. A news release in May of 2009 by Amazon corporate unveiled the company-that-sells-everything’s new business venture: a publishing house. Maybe publishing house is a bold term for a venture that simply seeks to re-package and re-market books that are already being sold on Amazon.com. AmazonEncore is a brilliant idea for a company that’s become a powerhouse in the publishing world.
For the many authors who self-publish their books, Amazon has been one of their best bets of finding buyers. And with the introduction of AmazonEncore, these authors can now aspire to being picked up by Amazon’s new publishing, or re-branding, wing. The result? AmazonEncore’s latest success story is a model for all that the division can do. Karen McQuestion’s “A Scattered Life” was released on August 10th of this year, and currently ranks #14 of all paid books at the Kindle Store. Pretty impressive, especially given that it’s only been two weeks since the book debuted.
For self-published authors, AmazonEncore can be a dream come true. As long as the division protects its reputation by carefully selecting well-written material, then they’ll build a brand that’s reliable and worthy of investing time and money. “A Scattered Life” has been receiving phenomenal reviews, with the average review rating of 4.5 stars. This is much improved from the division’s first release, “Legacy” by Cayla Kluver, released almost exactly a year before “A Scattered Life. Cayla Kluver’s book received mix reviews on Amazon. It also currently sells at a price of $4.07 on Kindle, whereas “A Scattered Life” debuted at $2.99, a price point that has allowed the latter to flourish among Kindle buyers seeking dirt cheap books.
AmazonEncore is being smart by pricing their books so low, although I can’t imagine it’s been very profitable for either the division or the authors. If the division’s books gain a lot of credibility, then AmazonEncore can start raising the prices of their books on the basis of reputation. It’s great that they were able to catapult “A Scattered Life” to #14 on the Kindle’s Top Paid list, but I’d like to see what would happen if the book had debuted at $9.99. Would it still be #14?
Karen McQuestion has other books on Amazon’s Kindle Store, but none of them are priced above $2.99. I found this unusual, since I suspected the $2.99 price of “A Scattered Life” might just be to drive business to her other, higher-priced titles. For example, Lisa Unger’s “Beautiful Lies: A Novel” is on the Kindle Store for $0.79, but her book, “Fragile: A Novel” is priced at $9.99. Both are in the top 25 on Kindle’s Top Paid list.
I haven’t read “A Scattered Life,” but may pick it up in the near future. I hope that Karen McQuestion will capitalize on this explosion in the sales of her book by pricing her other books higher. Maybe not a lot higher, but at least knock them up to $4.99. If readers enjoy “A Scattered Life,” then they’re going to go in search of your other books. Don’t short yourself profit!
I’m curious to see what the future holds for AmazonEncore. At least for now, it seems like they’ve got a pretty good thing going.
Anthony DiFiore, Publisher
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