My Relationship Status With E-Books: It's Complicated.
As a reader, I love e-books. I love their immediacy. If I hear about an interesting novel, within seconds I can have it on the Kindle app on my iPhone or on my e-reader device. Books arrive to me faster than prime shipping. It’s like living in a library with all the new releases. Digital books are also cheaper than hardcovers. E-reader apps have built in highlighters so I don’t need to sit with a sharpie by my bed to make note of favorite passages. Best of all, they have built in dictionaries. Never must I stumble on a word like Margaret Atwood favorite “alacrity” (definition: brisk cheerful readiness). As a writer, though, e-books can be infuriating. Aside from the sheer economics of them (many writers I know that have both physical and e-books earn less off their digital books), there’s the black box of sales reporting. While Amazon gladly releases Bookscan data detailing physical book sales, there is no tool tallying digital downloads that can be seen by outside authors. There are apps that allow me to guess based on my hourly-changing Kindle rank what my sales are likely to be, but I do not know how accurate these are. For example, today, The Widower’s Wife is #70 in all Kindle books. According to JungleScout, that rank would mean I was likely selling over 1,000 books per month. Kindlepreneur has a formula that would put that at over 1,000 books per day. Big difference. Who is right? I don’t know if either of them are even close. Some discussion groups say that a better estimator of sales is to take the number of reviews and multiply them by 100. I assume my publisher has this data–or at least gets reports on a monthly basis–but they probably won’t say anything until my first check is in the mail. I’ve asked… What are your thoughts on digital data? Is your publisher forthcoming with information? Do you use calculators? Is it all a black hole until that royalty check comes in?