Posted on by & filed under Digital Publishing, Safari.

One concern we sometimes hear from new publishing partners is the fear of losing out on ebook (and print) sales if customers have access to their books in Safari. We usually hear this from new partners, because those we’ve worked with already have learned it’s not true. We know this because we’ve tracked it.

For example, we recently had a publisher ask whether Safari was cannibalizing sales for two specific titles, and so we ran the numbers to compare the movement in Amazon sales rank to Safari visits for those two books, which are from a notable author on a topic of current interest to Safari users. (We can’t share more detail than that regarding which titles, unfortunately.) The data covers the first eight weeks that we included the books in Safari, earlier this year.

Both Amazon Sales Rank and Safari usage are plotted by time below. As you can see the Amazon sales data forms a cyclical and stable pattern over the 8-week period. In contrast, the number of daily visits for both books at Safari increased significantly approximately two weeks into our inclusion of the titles, before stabilizing. This increase is consistent with what we anticipated, given some promotion we did of the two titles early on.

Amazon sales rank of title 1
Safari daily visitors for title 1
Amazon sales rank of title 2
Safari daily visitors for title 2

The data shows little evidence that changes in the number of visits to a particular title in Safari correlates to changes in sales for either ebooks or print, even when Safari is actively promoting the title. Rather, the Amazon sales rank for each book version is quite stationary, regardless of Safari activity.

We hear from our customers time and again that they use the book content they access in Safari differently than even the very same content in print or on an e-reader. Safari is a tool used for quick doses of learning. Our usage data supports this clearly: the average Safari customer views seven different titles each week with a median page count of eight per title. Their average Safari reading time is 40 minutes per week. The Safari experience is complementary and additive: a new channel to readers seeking to use content in new ways.


One Response to “Does Safari cannibalize other sales channels for publishers?”

  1. Patrick Harrison

    This above Dreamweaver CC Building on the Fundamentals is on the SafariBooksOnLine and it promises you can download the exercise files but when you click on the download button, it takes you to the vendor of the material and asks you to creative an account. No mention for the exercise folder or a git ref. Since this was a second in a series, I was very disappointed that the exercises were not available for the second book.

    Love the service and by the way I have purchased a number of books and ebooks that I first read as part of SafariOnlineBooks.