Conflicting charts

Wednesday , 9, July 2014 5 Comments

Many have commented on the current brouhaha between Amazon and the Big Five publishers led by Hatchette. Regardless of who wins – and it will almost surely be Amazon – one future battle that remains to be fought is who determines the status of a bestseller. Consider the difference between the current Publishers Weekly top 10 bestsellers in science fiction, and the Amazon Kindle ranks for the same books.

  1. Earth Afire 78,576
  2. Edge of Tomorrow (All You Need is Kill) 1,372
  3. Shakespeare’s Star Wars 17,704
  4. Ender’s Game 385
  5. The Martian 14,118
  6. Lexicon 8,239
  7. Ready Player One 29,975
  8. Into the Void (Star Wars) 20,244
  9. Dune 956
  10. Deadly Shores: Destroyerman 6,117

Amazon’s metric has its shortcomings; it is susceptible to short-term volume buying. But so are the Bookscan-based numbers, which are intrinsically less transparent, and therefore trustworthy, than the Amazon ranks which can be tracked in real time.

5 Comments
  • Jolly Yon says:

    Where are you getting you kindle rankings? I show (very) different numbers, for example, The Martian is ~#434 paid kindle and #1 in hard scifi.

  • Jolly Yon says:

    Also, since the PW list is SciFi best sellers, wouldn’t you want to look at the same kindle ranking category (i.e. Science Fiction), otherwise this isn’t really meaningful, even if your numbers were correct.

  • VD says:

    Where are you getting you kindle rankings?

    Right from Amazon.com. But Amazon can sometimes be a little weird that way.

    since the PW list is SciFi best sellers, wouldn’t you want to look at the same kindle ranking category (i.e. Science Fiction)

    That’s a good idea. I will revise them after the WC game. Although it’s hardly meaningless, as the relative rankings between the top 10 books will remain the same.

  • Jolly Yon says:

    Well, this is the third time I’ve looked and The Martin is consistently in the mid 400s, never 14000.

    • Daniel says:

      It can depends on what country you are looking from, and time of day. If I look at amazon.de from U.S. servers at dawn, and you check it out while in Germany at dusk, those rankings are as likely to be different.

      Especially with current popular books (like the Martian), their rankings can easily fluctuate from less than 1000 up to 20000. Also things like book bombs really move the needle (Amazon loves book bombs, and their metric is sensitive to them).

      The rankings for old books, like Dune, are remarkably steady. Out of curiosity, I check its performance from time to time. Its range is almost always in the 900s, with lows of 400 and highs close to 1000.

      Still, with all the dynamism and anomalous behavior of Amazon rankings (plus the fact that they tweak the metric all the time)…I’ll take those any day, any hour over 1-week “bestsellers” or Bookscan champions.

      I’ve watched book bombs move rankings. I’ve seen events accelerate my own book sales, with a measurable impact on Amazon rank. It may be a bit of a mystery how they work, but they’ve had more independent validation in my own work and books I know well than NYT ever did or will…or can.

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