We recently started exploring the waters of non-Amazon retailers, especially the processes behind their book recommendation systems (manual curation vs algorithms).
Now it’s time to do a deep dive into the second largest eBook store out there: Apple Books.
Apple Books (formerly known as iBooks) is second only to Amazon’s Kindle Store in size — and it’s much, much smaller. In most markets, it accounts for less than 10% of ebook sales.
10% may not seem like a lot, but keep in mind that this doesn’t take Kindle Direct Publishing (“KDP”) into account. While KDP has arguably made it harder for “wide” authors to succeed on Amazon, it has also lured a lot of them into Amazon exclusivity — thus lowering the competition on non-Amazon retailers.
If you play your cards right, it might be easier for you to get a big chunk of Apple’s 10% than a small chunk of Amazon’s 83%. On top of that, Apple Books offers some specific advantages.
Readers pay more on average for a book on Apple.
While there’s no official statistic to confirm this, it’s common knowledge that Apple Books’ readers are less sensitive to price elasticity. This essentially means that you can get traction for a $5 or $6 book more easily on Apple Books than on Amazon.
Free first-in-series works particularly well.
Another tidbit of common knowledge is this: while PermaFree first-in-series don’t work as well as it previously did on Amazon (due to Amazon splitting up their free and paid bestseller lists), it still works extremely well on Apple.
If you have a series and you’re using Apple Books, try making your first book free. This allows you the potential to have more exposure for your series earlier on.
Apple Books pays 70% royalties on books above $9.99.
You probably know that Amazon only pays you 35% royalties on books priced above $9.99. Apple doesn’t have that upper limit: you still earn 70% royalties on sales at $10.99, $19.99, or even $24.99. This makes Apple Books a perfect place for having exclusive box sets. (As you’ll remember from our first post about Apple vs Amazon, seeing authors offer products exclusively on their store makes merchandising teams happy, too.)
Touchpoints with no sale aren’t penalized.
This advantage might be less well-known, but it’s just as crucial. Amazon’s algorithms are constantly testing your book. If it detects many readers going to your book’s page but not purchasing, Amazon will peg your book as low-performing and stop recommending it.
In contrast, Apple Books doesn’t care about the number of “touchpoints” that customers have with your book — so you don’t have to fear any consequences when you drive people to your book’s page as many times as possible.
Pre-orders count twice.
Perhaps the best advantage Apple Books has when compared to Amazon is this secret weapon: pre-orders. If you get a pre-order sale on Amazon, it counts (towards bestseller rankings and popularity lists) as one sale at the time of the preorder.
On Apple Books, pre-orders count as one sale at the time of the pre-order — and then as another sale on launch day. This means that if you manage to get 500 pre-orders on Apple Books, your book will shoot to the top of the ranks on launch day (and attract the attention of the merch team).
Digital Content Creators Can Help
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