Update: The latest on BookGorilla for authors and publishers (Summer 2014)

“Another fabulous BookGorilla promo….  Hi,  just wanted to tell you that eight of my books are in the top 100 of their category from my BookGorilla promos. Sales are staying high for over a week. The free books continue to sell, as well. And those that are in a series tend to pull the others up. Thought you’d be interested. Thank you so much. ”

–Suzanne Jenkins, author

Greetings from BookGorilla,

We love the fact that BookGorilla receives email messages every day like this one from Suzanne Jenkins, author of the Pam of Babylon and Greektown Stories series. And we’re thrilled that we’re getting more and more national attention like the nice coverage that we got this week in a pretty comprehensive Daily Kos report — nice not only because we were featured prominently on a high-traffic site, but also because the report demonstrated clearly how BookGorilla is different from every other ebook alert.

There’s always a lot to be excited about here at BookGorilla, and we want to do a better job of sharing the news. We often feel that staying in touch with authors and publishers comes naturally, because authors and publishers are among the most prolific readers. You’re an integral part of the hundreds of thousands of readers with whom we communicate on a daily basis, so you may already be aware of much of what we’re sharing here. But we also know that we can do more to communicate with you as our author and publisher partners, and we’re committed to trying harder to keep in touch in that way in the coming months.

First, we want you to know that we’ve been working hard at our constant goal of sustained growth. Over the past 15 months, since our beta launch in March 2013, our reach has continued to grow at an average rate of a little over 10% per month. Each day — through our combination of email alerts, free apps and social media connections — we alert well over 200,000 individual readers to that day’s best deals in the Kindle Store, including A-list bestsellers, freebies, deeply discounted midlist and backlist titles, and amazing boxed set deals featuring popular titles at just a few pennies each.

Throughout this period of rapid growth, we have kept advertising rates for authors and publishers unchanged. We’re sure we could charge more and still be successful, but we look at author and publisher efforts to promote your books via BookGorilla as a partnership in which we all have something to invest, and something to gain, rather than as a high-stakes gamble where you spend huge amounts of money for the thrill of temporarily high sales rankings. That’s why we are also committed to continuing throughout  2014 and early 2015 without any increase in these advertising rates. Throughout that period, you’ll still be able to promote your books via BookGorilla for as little as $40 to $50, or via a Kindle Nation Daily spot with a free BookGorilla slideover for as little as $99.99.

One reason we are able to keep these rates low is that we dedicate only a small portion of our daily Kindle ebook recommendations to ad-supported titles. Instead, most of our revenue comes directly from Amazon Associates fees, which continue to grow at explosive rates because of our commitment, to our readers, to select the best deals every day on the books our subscribers really want to read. Most of our revenue comes from pleasing our readers with deals they never thought they’d see, often on books they already wanted to read.

Consequently, when an author or publisher has a book on our daily alert, it’s a lot like being on the “favorites” shelf at a popular bookstore. Whether the book is independently published or comes from one of the Big Five publishers, it may well occupy “shelf space” next to a bestseller by Janet Evanovich, Stephen King or John Green. No stigma here — like we say, it’s like being prominently displayed in a popular bookstore. We think that has a lot to do with the fact that our paid advertisers include several of the Big Five publishers as well as hundreds of indie authors and small presses, and we know that it also has a lot to do with our industry leading open rates.

Although we’re constrained because we actually honor our agreement with Amazon not to report specific actual sales figures, we’ve been excited lately to watch thousands of individual paid titles generate sales in the hundreds of copies, and sometimes in the thousands of copies, through their inclusion in BookGorilla alerts. We continue to include a limited number of freebies in our listings, and those titles regularly experience download traffic in the 10,000 to 20,000-copy range.

We don’t have 4 million readers, but we have real readers. Unlike some other alerts that depend almost 100% on ad-supported titles, only a small percentage of all the books we recommend are ad-supported: less than 15% of all title recommendations. We never purchase subscriber lists (or share ours with anyone else, for that matter), which is among the reasons we believe our readership is truly made up of the best readers in the world.

Because we have so much faith in our community of readers, we let them make the important choices. Our subscribers can choose from among over 100 genres and sub-categories, and we leave it totally up to our readers whether they would like to see 12, 25, or 50 ebook recommendations in their daily alerts. We’re confident that we’ve hit the sweet spot in providing the right amount of information so that readers can scan quickly through our emails and make wise choices about which books they’d like to consider more seriously, because the percentage of our subscribers who select 25 or more titles has actually grown, from 87% to 89%, since our early days.

In the past few months we’ve had a couple of very successful BookGorilla app launches — one in the Amazon AppStore for a Kindle Fire app and one in the Google Play store for an android app. We’ve already had an app approved for Amazon’s new Fire Phone, and we’re working toward moving even closer to complete coverage when it comes to smartphone apps. And that’s just a start — we have other very exciting developments in the works that will allow better than ever connections between readers and the authors they love (or have just discovered!)

We promise to work harder to stay in touch with you in the coming months, and we hope you’ll stay in touch with us.

Have a great summer!



Steve Windwalker

Email: promotions@bookgorilla.com

ps – We’re all pretty busy, and I don’t want that last bit about “staying in touch with you” to scare anyone off, so I’ll take a moment to list a few recent and upcoming topics below.

How to sign up for affordable advertising opportunities on BookGorilla

BookGorilla ads begin at just $40 to $50 and currently max out at $200. Our advertisers range from bestselling indie authors to several of the Big Five publishers, but the same rules apply to everyone and you can schedule your own spots online without a lot of mystery and drama. Click here for info and sign-up. (Please be sure to check availability info, which is updated daily on the sign-up page, before you submit, as that will save time for you as well as us!)

How to get a free BookGorilla spot when you buy a KND sponsorship

Straight-up BookGorilla spots beginning at $40 or $50 are great, but here’s another deal that could be just as good, depending on your needs:

Just click on our booking calendar to book, schedule and pay for a KND sponsorship, and we’ll give you a free “slide-over spot” on BookGorilla if your book qualifies in terms of promotional pricing, quality review, and our restrictions against the same title repeating more than once in a 14-day period. If you qualify, make sure you fill out the form on our Free BookGorilla Slide-over info page and send it on to promotions@bookgorilla.com.

Recent and Upcoming Topics for Authors and Publishers

Recent topics:

Upcoming topics:

  • Ebook pricing strategies on BookGorilla
  • Kindle Countdown Deal strategies on BookGorilla
  • Boxed Set Alerts on BookGorilla
  • How to avoid having your book disqualified from a BookGorilla promotion
  • How did your book get on BookGorilla without your having purchased a promotional spot? (Hint: It’s a good sign.)
  • Using KND’s Free Book Highlighter in conjunction with BookGorilla (Hint: it’s not automatic, but we check the FBH list if, and only if, we have space.)

Are Kindle bestseller prices rising or falling?

Are Kindle bestseller prices rising or falling? They may be rising for everybody else, but if you’re a BookGorilla subscriber, they are falling for you

By Steve Windwalker


There’s been plenty of commentary focusing on a recent pattern of rising prices for ebook bestsellers — even, alas, in the Kindle Store. Our colleague and friend Bufo Calvin offered some clear analysis recently on his I Love My Kindle blog, under the headline Kindle New York Times bestsellers shockingly up almost $1 a month so far this year. And if that were the whole story, it would spell bad news for the budget-conscious avid readers that make up a major part of Kindle Nation.

It mayBKG-ICON seem counterintuitive, but there’s also some great news for these ebook consumers, especially the growing number of readers who make use of free daily alerts from BookGorilla. To show you what we mean, let’s focus on the Top 100 Bestselling Books of 2013 in the Kindle Store, according to Amazon’s own full-year Kindle bestseller list.

The average prices for those Top 100 bestsellers as of their release dates was $10.08, and their average price today, now that most of them have been out for a while, is $6.64 (see table). 30 of these books were initially priced between $10.99 and $17.99 — prices that most Kindle owners, according to our surveys, consider exorbitant. No surprises in any of that.

But here’s the good news: 71 of those same 100 books have been featured on the daily BookGorilla ebook deal alert during the past year, and the average deal price for those 71 books was $3.17.

So, if you had purchased those 71 books on their release dates, they would have cost you a total of $794.50 (an average of $9.78).

But patient, budget-conscious readers could have purchased all 71 books on the days of their BookGorilla specials for just $225.31. That’s a savings of $469.19 — well over $6 per book!

And far from being limited to popular self-published 99-centers, this list includes nearly all of the biggest books of the year, starting with 25 of the top 27 Kindle bestsellers of 2013, including Dan Brown’s Inferno, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Grisham’s Sycamore Row, and other blockbusters by J.K. Rowling, Lee Child, David Baldacci, Pulitzer Prize winner Donna Tartt and more.

Obviously, millions of readers paid those high, impatience-driven prices … not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, how were they to know when these must-read titles would be available at discounts of 60 to 90 percent, especially when such deals are often available only for a day or two?

That’s where BookGorilla comes in. It’s a totally free ebook recommendation service that was launched 13 months ago by the same incredible group of folks who produce Kindle Nation Daily, an ebook community that we have been building since Amazon introduced the Kindle in November 2007. Since then, other ebook sites have jumped on the bandwagon, and ebook recommendation services, in particular, have proliferated.

But BookGorilla takes a very different approach.

BookGorilla is driven primarily by a unique ability to discover and share — in a very personalized way — the best deals every morning on the kind of top-tier A-list bestsellers mentioned above, along with very popular backlist titles and truly curated “discoveries” of the best books from small presses and independent authors.

Equally important, less than 20% of the ebooks recommended by BookGorilla are ad-supported. With a revenue model fueled by about 70% Amazon Associates fees and 30% advertising revenues, BookGorilla has a powerful incentive to deliver on one of its key slogans:

“Instead of pushing you to buy books that we want you to buy, BookGorilla shows you books that you actually want to read, at prices you never dreamed possible!”

It’s no accident that we launched BookGorilla just as a federal court brought an end to price-fixing collusion by Apple and five of the Big Six publishers. As a result of that change, the largest publishers themselves have joined in the same fierce price competition that was previously limited mainly to indie authors and smaller publishers.

It’s one thing to compete on price, of course, and another to get the word out about your best discounts. Now the ranks of BookGorilla’s advertisers include several Big Six and other major publishers, but whether or not a title is ad-supported, BookGorilla still enforces its same stringent price and quality requirements for “deal-worthiness.”

It is likely that the major publishers, and retailers like Amazon, will continue to price most books, most of the time, at very profitable levels: $8 to $15 for new-release bestsellers, and $4 to $10 for strong backlist titles. It’s up to consumers whether they want to pay those prices, and many are driven to pay them by impatience, the next book group selection or the demands of a course syllabus.

But for the significant number of readers who want to save a few bucks, the deals that BookGorilla recommends each morning mean that, with a little patience, readers can buy just about any book they might want, including very recent bestsellers, at much, much better prices.

The average price of all books on BookGorilla for March 2014 was $1.03. Given that there are no shipping charges for an ebook, that places the cost of buying Kindle books somewhere between the cost of using a public library and shopping at a used bookstore, for BookGorilla subscribers who use the service on a daily basis. As a result, budget-conscious readers may have a little less to fear in the pattern of rising bestseller prices that Bufo Calvin has described.

Is there a “best day” to buy books, or promote books, in the Kindle Store?

By Steve Windwalker

It will come as no surprise to BookGorilla subscribers and KND readers that we spend a lot of time communicating with authors and publishers. Authors and publishers want to connect with readers, and they understand that our community is made up of the greatest readers in the world, pound for pound.

There are two questions that authors and publishers ask us more than any others:

  • What’s the best promotional price for a Kindle book?
  • What’s the best day of the week to promote a Kindle book?

may2014calWe’ll put the discussion of pricing off for another post on another day, but let’s take this opportunity to focus on the relative merits of different days of the week:

  • What’s the best day of the week to promote a Kindle book?
  • Or, from a reader’s point of view: which day of the week is the most likely day for you to go online to look at possible ebook downloads, and perhaps to make an ebook purchase?

(BookGorilla provides a good barometer to evaluate this question, because BookGorilla alerts are structurally the same every day, regardless of which day of the week it is.)

We’ve just reviewed the past 10 weeks of BookGorilla stats, and it’s an interesting picture.

The orthodox view among online marketing experts is that there is less traffic on the internet on weekends, and consequently that weekends are a less worthwhile time to promote whatever someone is promoting.

The BookGorilla experience confirms the first part of this orthodox view, but not the second.

In other words, we find that “open rates” for BookGorilla alerts are slightly lower on weekends: Saturday is the lowest day of the week with an average estimated 47.12% open rate, and the weekend average is 47.39% compared with 47.82% on weekdays:

Average Estimated Daily Open Rates

  • Monday – 48.21%
  • Tuesday – 47.56%
  • Wednesday – 48.01%
  • Thursday – 47.79%
  • Friday – 47.54%
  • Saturday – 47.12%
  • Sunday – 47.65%

But that’s not the end of the story. Although slightly fewer subscribers open their BookGorilla alerts on weekends, those that do open them are more likely to purchase Kindle books. If every day were the same, the percentage of average weekly Kindle books downloaded on each day of the week would of course be one-seventh, or 14.29%. Instead, what we find is that the weekend is prime time for paid Kindle downloads :

Percentage of Average Weekly Kindle Books Downloaded by Day of Week (Paid Kindle Books):

  • Monday – 13.90%
  • Tuesday – 15.12%
  • Wednesday – 13.42%
  • Thursday – 13.37%
  • Friday – 13.78%
  • Saturday – 14.98%
  • Sunday – 15.42%

In other words, Sunday, Tuesday and Saturday are the top three days for paid Kindle downloads via BookGorilla, in that order. It makes sense to us, because even if our subscribers are slightly less likely to be online on the weekends, that factor is offset by the notion that many people have more time on the weekends, more time to read, and more likelihood to spend some time and a dollar or two looking for their next great read.

We share this information with some trepidation, of course. What if authors and publishers go on strike against offering promotions for BookGorilla readers on Thursdays, which is the lowest day of the week by a tiny margin? But we’re hoping that common sense will prevail, because after all, there really isn’t that much deviation, on any of the seven days, from the 14.29% norm. And we should also point out, of course, that BookGorilla’s experience is not necessarily predictive for other sites.

Do you have a favorite day of the week to buy books? Or a favorite day for reading? And of course, it’s okay with us if you answer “every day” on both counts.