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Top 10 Kindle e-books: all free


If you want to pick up one of the bestselling books for the Kindle, you don't have to save your spare dollars or even your pennies -- the 10 top Kindle bestsellers are free. To find a bestselling Kindle e-book that costs more than $0.00, you have to look to No. 14, Steig Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" -- a book that's spent more than 18 months in the top 100, and has the fairly low e-book price of $5.50.

Currently at No. 1 is "Breach of Trust," a mystery about an ex-CIA agent turned librarian from DiAnn Mills, a successful writer of Christian fiction. It's taken the top spot after just three days in the top 100, and that may change; Amazon revises its rankings every hour.

With "Breach of Trust" retailing for $26.36 in hardcover and $9.36 in paperback, why is Mills giving it away? Maybe because it's a year old and her a new novel, "A Woman Called Sage," was released just three weeks ago. The idea is that readers will like the older, free e-book so much that they'll go ahead and pay for a new one from the same author. But with "A Woman Called Sage" at the respectable but certainly not bestselling No. 8,068 in the Kindle store, is this give-em-a-taste strategy paying off?

Maybe it would have a better chance if so many people weren't trying it -- but there's Kathryn Magendie's free, 2009 novel "Tender Graces," the Kindle No. 5 bestseller; her new 2010 book "Secret Graces" is at No. 14,020 on the Kindle list. And Samantha Sommersby's "Forbidden: The Sacrifice," the 2009 start to a supernatural series is now free; its third book, "Forbidden: The Temptation," released in March, selling for $3.60, is at  No. 1,518 in the Kindle store.

Another strategy is to make the e-book free for just a few days. That's the case for several new books in the Kindle top 10. "Death of a Trophy Wife" by Laura Levine (No. 2), "Mistress By Mistake" by Maggie Robinson (No. 4) and "Secrets of the Tudor Court" by D. L. Bodgdan (No. 6) are all from Kensington, and "The Killing Room" by John Manning (No. 3) is from Pinnacle, an imprint. Abingdon Press has made debut author Linda S. Clare's novel "The Fence My Father Built" free this week; it's at No. 7. Once the free download window has closed, these books will sell for the retail price. But will readers choose to pony up for the books they missed, or go for the new free books that pop up next week? 

Most of the free books currently dominating the Kindle top 10 are mysteries, romances, thrillers and women's fiction; Christian fiction is doing very well. There's just one self-help book: "Living Organized: Proven Steps for a Clutter-Free and Beautiful Home." Does it suggest e-readers like the Kindle as a clutter solution? The standard Kindle can hold up to 1,500 books -- a library large enough to include a lot of freebies.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

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So the vast majority of ebook buyers have no money, no taste, or both? Hm. Interesting.

TG, which came out last year, is free for a two-week promo only, then it's back to paying for it *smiling* ... it's women's/southern/literary fiction (although "shhhh" I'm not supposed to say that word: literary ....!)

I think the promo's a good idea for small or indie presses to get a little buzz going on the book(s)/author(s). I'm curious to see how it all works out after the two weeks is over. I know I hit No 1 on the first day, and have stayed in the top five since. That's always nice in this book business, no matter what the situation is, to be in the top anything *grin*

So, I just read a Kindle commercial. No thanks

I like using an Original kindle because it has the SD card slot and it's battery seems to last forever, which I find a big help! Using a eReader tablet is fun and easy on the eyes, that is why folks are buying and "really" enjoying using them, even when they also have computers, laptops, PDA's and cell phones.

Also consider, If i'm traveling to some places, I'd much rather take a original kindle because it's small and would attract much less attention than a new Apple iPad would...

BTW: You own more than one pair of shoes, why not choose to read on more than one "reading device"?

As the editor/publisher of TENDER GRACES and a number of other titles that have been successfully promoted on Kindle, I can tell you the giveaway DOES produce real sales both on the promoted title and the authors' backlist. More important, it highlights small press titles and gives them a chance to find the readership they deserve. My tiny press can't begin to compete with the big pubs in terms of advertising, but via Kindle we accomplish a similar level of publicity and results. Kat Magendie is an acclaimed writer and internationally known poet; a quick look at the kudos for TENDER GRACES shows that she's garnered excellent street cred already. Now, thanks to the Kindle promo, tens of thousands of readers will learn more about her lyrical, lovely books. A big "Win Win" all around.

Deb Smith, BelleBooks

How can you call something a 'bestseller' if the sales price is zero? We need a new term like, 'Best freebie download no one would touch if they had to pay for it".

Dear Chicolini:

My small press authors include Edgar-winners, Emmy winners, NYT bestsellers, genre award winners, and one Pulitzer nominee. So I don't think their Kindle promotions work simply because their books are free. *And* the bigger point is that their two-week giveaway sparks a two-to-three MONTH upswing in solid sales and great reviews from readers (so much for Chicolin's theory that no one will pay for these books.)

As the author of The Fence My Father Built, I am happy for the opportunity to get my book in front of a wider audience. Maybe it is only statistical, but hearing my title in the same breath with bestseller feels good. I don't think it's fair to call it the freebie-no-one-would-buy-if-they-had-to-pay. It's marketing, something authors wish they didn't have to do, but are forced into by current conditions in publishing. Now I'm crossing my fingers and hoping Deb (BelleBooks) is right about the freebie turning into actual book sales. Hey, an author can dream.

Sorry, but if you want the Kindle version of Ten Ring, you still have to pay $9.95.

I (and, of course, I do) still think it's a bargain.

There's lots of good fiction for kindle out there written by independents too for less than the big publishers are charging in a variety of genres. Check out Mahko's Knife, Reunion, Duncan Delaney, and Identity Crisis to name just a couple.

Isn't this just further proof that people aren't buying ebooks? Do you think the bestselling music on, say, iTunes are the "free samples"? Of course not.

Isn't this just good marketing? This is the electronic counterpart of browsing the bookshelves of a rental home whilst on vacation. Nothing strikes your fancy, but you want to read something, so you pick up a book at random to see if it might fit the bill for an afternoon at the beach. You've never heard of the author before, but you give it a shot, and suddenly two hours later you find you have a sunburn because you've become engrossed and forgot to put on more sunscreen. If that happens, you're likely to remember the author's name for when the sequel (or next book) comes out.

Who hasn't stumbled across a new author by accident and ended up reading all their books? I did that with John Sandford just browsing the mystery section of the library while my kids hunted new Encyclopedia Brown books down. Makes perfect sense that sales on the rest of their work goes up by virtue of the added exposure.

As if being a struggling author weren't hard enough, if we move from print to e-books the model's got to change. Publishers need to be brave and place a value on the work we produce. I think free sample chapters are a good idea to hook a reader (presumably that happens?), but the price for a complete e-book should be close to the print version. If it's not, there'll soon be no one left to write them. While I'm biased (they're my publisher), well done Quercus for bucking the trend with the Larsson books in this curious chart of free bestsellers.


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