Apple’s 2013 Best-Seller List Suggests That Apple is a Friend of Big Publishers
As the year draws to a close, Apple releases their "Best of 2013" lists for iTunes and iBooks. The iBooks lists include both editor’s choice and best-sellers, and they reveals some startling differences from the lists that Amazon revealed a couple days ago.
You can only find Apple’s list inside iTunes, and since I can’t copy and paste the list that makes it rather hard to share and discuss. But I took a few minutes and typed up the 15 titles on the Fiction best-seller list.
As you can see below, the list includes both titles found on Amazon’s lists as well as a few surprise additions. Dan Brown’s Inferno led the list, but after that Apple’s list diverged sharply from Amazon’s:
- Fifty Shades of Grey
- Gone Girl
- Entwined with You
- The Great Gatsby
- Fifty Shades Darker
- Fifty Shades Freed
- The Cuckoo’s Calling
- The Fault in Our Stars
- Safe Haven
- And the Mountain Echoed
- A Song of Fire and Ice Omnibus
- The Hit
- Bared to You
- Six Years
A couple details jumped out at me. For one thing, the 50 Shades trilogy is on this list but not Amazon’s, leading me to wonder whether Amazon filtered that series from their list (they’ve done it before) or perhaps iBooks has more male customers (female customers would have tended to buy that series in 2012).
But the more important story here is that there are no indie pub titles on this list. This stands in stark contrast to Amazon’s lists, which included no less than 9 titles from indie authors (out of 40 titles) as well as other titles from small presses.
In fact, all of the titles on Apple’s fiction best-seller list and nonfiction list were published by one of the Big 5/6 US publishers; there aren’t even any titles from small publishers, much less indie authors.
I’m calling this out specifically because some in publishing see Apple as potentially being a strong ally against Amazon, but if this list is any indication then Apple is really only a friend of the major publishers. The small fry aren’t getting the sales and marketing attention in iBooks that would be needed to make it into the best-seller list, and that could translate to lower sales over all.
Yes, I know that Apple has launched a promo section in iBooks in some markets which focuses on Smashwords, but that effort doesn’t seem to be translating into sales. It’s also a far too specific promotion which doesn’t include indie titles from other sources.
In a way, this should come as no surprise. Amazon’s self-pub option requires a web browser and an internet connection. Apple asks that an indie author first buy a Mac before they upload any ebooks. If you cannot afford an Apple computer then Apple won’t sully their hands by dealing with you; they want you to use a distributor (Ingrams, Smashwords, etc).
Amazon is still the better friend to small presses and indie publishers. Or am I wrong?