Recount!

Well, this is kind of depressing. And no, I’m not talking about the election; that’s still a few hours off. No, I’m talking about the stats for downloads of the ebooks—especially Sunborn. Turns out that my web logs analyzer, a program called Analog that I’ve used faithfully for years, has been lying to me about the number of downloads.

Well, not lying exactly, just being stupid.

I think this applies mainly just to the PDF downloads rather than the others, because people can actually open the PDF file right in their browser without downloading the file to their hard drive. And when they do, the file is sent to them in little packets, which you would only notice by the repeated little message at the bottom of the browser indicating activity. As I discovered to my dismay last night, each of those little packets gets its own line in the logs. And Analog has been counting each of those packets as a separate download request! And fooling me like a politician greasing a gullible audience.

To paraphrase one such politician of the past*, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am not a crook. However, previous reports of the downloads of Sunborn and the other PDF files are exaggerated. A lot. A real lot. As nearly as I can tell, actual complete downloads of Sunborn are in the low-mid hundreds at this point, and the highest, Neptune Crossing, is at maybe a thousand. All told, the cumulative ebook downloads are in the thousands, but I’m not even going to try to guess a more exact number. That’s not cottage cheese, but it’s nowhere near the 20K plus that Analog was selling me.

To say that this discovery was a downer would be no exaggeration.

Anyone know a better free (or cheap) web-logs analyzer? (I’ve tried a few, but none quite fit the bill yet.)

*For the young’ns among you, or those outside the U.S.: Richard M. Nixon, the worst president in U.S. history prior to the current one.

“From my close observation of writers … they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.” —Isaac Asimov

0 Responses

  1. substandardTim
    | Reply

    i’ll let the jab at bush pass…haha…

    I use Webalizer which can also give you some inflated numbers and so because of that I also use Google Analytics which is supposed to be good but it makes it seem like almost no one visits my websites, so I don’t entirely trust it’s data either. Analytics gives you some really great reports but the annoying thing is that you need to install the code for it on each and every page of your site which can be a pain. I’m assuming what you are using now is just preinstalled on the server.

    So yeah what I’m trying to say is that I use a combination of statistics to get a feel for my traffic.

    For selling things like your books I recommend adding them to Google Base, it’s what powers the Shopping tab on Google and it’s completely free to add products. I’m sure many people already list your books on there but you might as well make your amazon commission. I just started my first store and have been muddling through getting products added to Base. I sell pirate ships: http://www.substandardstudios.com/shop/

  2. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    I looked at Webalyzer, but the setup seemed so complicated, I moved on to others.

    Weblog Expert Lite does recognize the difference between complete downloads and partial downloads of PDFs, and gives numbers for both. Also for unique visitors. I’ve read enough elsewhere about the uncertainty of the visitors guesstimate (based presumably on IP addresses) that I take that with a grain of salt. However, its estimates of visitors and of complete downloads are fairly close.

    I also tried Alterwind Log Analyzer Lite, which gives similar results to WLE. The trouble is, neither one picks up the number of downloads for other ebook filetypes, such as .prc and .lrf. At least not in the free versions. Not sure if I want to spend $75 to know these numbers.

    Not clear on the advantage of using Google Base. Are you saying I could list my books there for Amazon to fulfill? I already have Amazon Associate links, and links to other stores. People can order directly from me by Paypal. I suppose the process could be made more streamlined. I guess I should look at it.

  3. substandardTim
    | Reply

    well the other option for you is to switch to a webhost that actually provides you with better stat software preinstalled on the server so you dont have to do anything, but switching hosts can be quite a chore itself. I use giantwebhost.com. Cheesy name but decent company, actually owned by amhosting.com. 1and1.com is a huge company and super cheap and i think they give you decent stats as well, their cheapest hosting package though doesn’t give you too much in features at all.

    I guess I wasn’t too clear on the Google Base thing and I suppose I’m not too sure how easy it would be for you to make good use of it since you aren’t actually the store shipping the items. If you click on “shopping” on google you can search for any product you want and a number of stores will show up with their prices for whatever that item is. It’s great for comparison shopping. My point for you was that I was wondering if you could use that setup to create a link to amazon using your affiliate code in the link and have that show up as one of the results in google shopping. It would only show up if someone was specifically searching for one of your books but the idea would be that you could possibly get a bit of commission out of it. I don’t even know if it would work but if it would it could be cool.

    Of course since you do at times ship people books directly, so then you could certainly use free store software like I do to set up a store on your site and then keep a much larger piece of the pie for yourself. The store software I use is included free with my webhost.

    Just some extra thoughts. I’ve been spending too much time on your blog lately.

  4. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Nah, I wouldn’t change web hosts over something like this that’s actually pretty minor. I’ve been with sff.net from the beginning, and they not only give a discount to SF writers (and in fact, they’re hosting my writesf.com web course for free, just as a public service), I get totally personal service. If I send a note with a question in the middle of the night, chances are one of the guys will answer me within the hour. They’re good guys.

    I did look at the Google thing for a little bit earlier, and it looks as if I could set it up for direct shopping from me if I wanted. (I’m not sure the investment of time would be a good tradeoff, though.) If there’s a way to make it feed through my Amazon Associates ID, I couldn’t see it, though.

  5. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Oh yeah–Tim, you might want to ignore my next post. It’s going to be political. 🙂

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