★ Is the Kindle Store 1000 Times Better Than Apple’s iBooks and Smashwords?

Probably not.

But the data for sales of my nov­el, Déjà Vu, which I’ve pub­lished on the Kindle, iBooks and Smashwords, point to a sales ratio of about 1000:1.

Kindle Sales

Déjà Vu unit sales per month, begin­ning in March, are: 320, 938, 915, 738, 844, 643 and 581.

Smashwords (this includes Barnes and Noble, and a billion other ebook stores)

For the same peri­od: 4.


For the same peri­od: 1.

Overall, then, the ratio of sales Kindle:other is 4979:5. Call it 1000:1. If Déjà Vu is rep­res­ent­at­ive of more gen­er­al trends (it won’t be; but it’s in the ball­park, I expect), the Kindle store could be around 1000 times more suc­cess­ful than the oth­er stores com­bined. Remember that the blurb, cov­er image and price are identic­al across stores.

What Leads to These Differences?

All of my mar­ket­ing — if you can call it that — has poin­ted people to the Kindle store.

Amazon has a lar­ger cus­tom­er base to begin with, so cross-pro­mo­tion will be more effect­ive. That is, when Déjà Vu is recom­men­ded to people who have a his­tory of buy­ing sim­il­ar titles, there are more of those people around to see the recom­mend­a­tion. It could well be that many people see Déjà Vu on Amazon when they’re not look­ing for it; few see my book on Smashwords or iBooks.

Amazon has a mature chart-based shop­front. I don’t think Smashwords does this very well. And when I (rarely) look at iBooks, the charts seem to be full of odd books, and they are all writ­ten by Jeremy Clarkson. Nothing wrong with that; but it sug­gests a smal­ler num­ber of read­ers.

For the ver­sion of Déjà Vu sold on Amazon, I can con­trol the look and feel of the ebook pre­cisely. The ver­sion sold on Smashwords is pro­duced using a Word tem­plate and, frankly, it looks like a piece of crap. Blockquotes don’t work prop­erly; indent­a­tion is shot to hell. Likewise, the ver­sion for iBooks looks awful. Now, ebooks aren’t meant to look beau­ti­ful — but the cre­at­or should be able to provide a well-designed doc­u­ment whose struc­ture melts away so that the read­er can enjoy the story.

A Caveat

It’s worth not­ing that both iBooks and Smashwords are push­ing huge num­bers of books. Scott Pack recently repor­ted large sales num­bers for Confessions of a GP. And my friend Stephen J Sweeney has been selling his Battle for the Solar System books like gang­busters across many plat­forms. But Amazon has the lion’s share of this mar­ket for now.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

6 thoughts on “★ Is the Kindle Store 1000 Times Better Than Apple’s iBooks and Smashwords?”

  1. I think part of the dif­fer­ence is that Amazon had the “book” eye­balls BEFORE they star­ted selling Kindle. Smashwords exists because of e-read­ers. They didn’t have cus­tom­ers before that so they had to build a data­base and cus­tom­ers from scratch.

    Must as Apple is loved and has cus­tom­ers, they weren’t big book sellers. They had music eye­balls, not book eye­balls. People go where the invent­ory is and they go where the habit is. I don’t always buy the Kindle book–sometimes I can still find it used or in paper­back (4 for 3) cheap­er. I don’t get all that as a read­er on Apple or Smash. Pure and simple, if I’m shop­ping for the PRODUCT, Amazon has the product in mul­tiple forms.

    They have the cus­tom­er ser­vice to back it up too, which means, in short: There’s no reas­on for me to look else­where most of the time.

    There are a few authors who sell bet­ter on B&N, but the vast major­ity sell the bulk on Amazon. And if you ask me, it’s mostly the eye­balls. Combine that with a good shop­ping exper­i­ence, low prices and … well.


  2. Thanks for your com­ment, Maria. All good points. Amazon cer­tainly has first mover advant­age in all this — but I think they’re just play­ing the game at level far above the oth­ers. We’ll see what the new Amazon tab­let brings…

  3. Amazon really is the king of the eBook mar­ket right now, and I’m not sure that’ll change any time soon.

    Numbers across oth­er stores will increase though, I’m sure. More and more people are start­ing to pick up ebook read­ers, and Google is about to open up their eBookstore in the UK, so that might add a few more num­bers.

    I’m sure I’ll pass 1,000 total sales for both BFTSS book this month from Amazon. Will post the num­bers when I get them in. Smashwords will prob­ably be a little longer in com­ing.

  4. Thanks for your com­ment, Stephen. I’m not sure num­bers will increase more than trivi­ally on the oth­er stores unless some­thing seis­mic hap­pens. Right now, what grows the mar­ket for Amazon is the Kindle. The num­ber of people who want to read on a laptop/phone/iPad is far smal­ler.

    It would be great if you could post your data.


  5. For me the obvi­ous dif­fer­ence is that people buy the Kindle to read books, people buy the iPad to surf so the Kindle store is bound to be a big­ger seller.

    Anyway the real reas­on for the com­ment was to say con­grat­u­la­tions on becom­ing an author again! Last I read you were giv­ing up on writ­ing and try­ing to find a way of giv­ing your “last” book to your fans for as little as pos­sible. Now I read that you’ve had suc­cess with Deja Vu on the kindle and are releas­ing the next two books with renewed pas­sion.

    I’ve just found out there’s an iPhone Kindle app (not got a kindle yet — don’t really read enough to jus­ti­fy one!) so when as soon as I’ve fin­ished “Game of Thrones” I’ll be buy­ing the next book!

    I’m glad things have turned around an I really hope you carry on with the writ­ing.

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