Hugo Success, Then and Now

Friday , 25, April 2014 1 Comment

Way Station, Winner of Hugo, Loser of Amazon Sales Rank

In 1964, the Hugo for Best Novel nominees were:

  • Way Station, Clifford Simak (Winner)
  • Witch World, Andre Norton
  • Glory Road, Robert A. Heinlein
  • Dune World (what is now known as Dune), Frank Herbert
  • Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

Way Station won with a total of 63 votes. Witch World and Glory Road tied for second, with 54 votes apiece.   7 voters felt like none of the above books were worthy of the Hugo.

1964 original Hugo ballot list.

In 2013, the Hugo for Best Novel nominees were:

  • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Winner)
  • Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold
  • 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed
  • Blackout, Mira Grant

Now, for fun, here are the books in Amazon rank order (for purposes of unit comparisons, kindle edition ranks are used wherever possible), from lowest (least sales) rank to highest:

  • Way Station* – #1,000,000 (non-kindle)
  • Witch World** – #834,000 (non-kindle)
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon – #67,078
  • Glory Road -#39,620
  • Blackout – #24,881
  • 2312 – #20,901
  • Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance -#20,309
  • Cat’s Cradle – #5,127
  • Redshirts – #4,701
  • Dune – #987

*Way Station, by Clifford Simak, appears to be unshepherded by its rights holder: it is available under numerous publishers, in many editions, but not kindle. The sales rank reflects the best rank of only one edition of the book, and there are no authorized new in-print editions listed.

**Witch World, the book that launched the massive and still popular Witch World project, has not been updated for publication in quite some time. It too suffers from the same disunion as Way Station: numerous copies are available in print, but not yet in authorized ebook. For example, Wizard’s World, one of the newer Witch World books for kindle, ranks at #33,196, which would put it in 6th place on this list if it counted.

Note: Amazon ranks are, of course, transient things, a basic fractal pattern, so this is just a snapshot in time, and can’t be used to make anything but the most generic sales observations, but they are interesting for other reasons. Generally speaking, something in the top 10,000 is likely doing better than the top 100,000 currently, but the difference between 20,000 and 60,000 is (again as a momentary snapshot) negligible for unit sales comparisons. I looked up these ranks prior to the 2014 Hugo nominees announcement.

One Comment
  • Tim McDonald says:

    Something I noticed right away about those two lists. I have read (reread a couple of times in at least 2 cases) all of the 1964 books.
    I have read NONE of the 2013 books, and looking at them, I have no desire to read any with the single exception of Cpt. Vorpatils Alliance, whick I will get to sooner or later. Every SINGLE one of the others is a boring author. While ALL the 1964 authors write interesting, usually gripping, books.

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