Home » Amazon, Bestsellers » Amazon Takes On New York Times Bestseller List As Standard For Book Success

Amazon Takes On New York Times Bestseller List As Standard For Book Success

19 May 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

Amazon has long featured bestseller lists track sales ranking by the hour, but what the e-commerce giant has lacked is a weekly list. That changed this week with the launch of Amazon Charts, a new feature that will include not only the top 20 bestsellers at the retailer in both fiction and nonfiction, but also the 20 most read books in both categories. Adult books and children’s books will be included on the lists.

The “most sold” chart will rank bestsellers based on aggregated sales (including pre-orders), as well as books borrowed. Sales will be based on activity from all of Amazon’s platforms (Amazon.com, Audible.com, and Amazon Books), and across all formats (print, digital, digital audio and books read through Amazon’s subscription services).

. . . .

The “most read” list will be based on titles read, or listened to, via Kindle devices and Audible. Naggar thinks that feature will reflect “what is going on in the zeitgeist” more than Amazon’s lists based solely on sales.

Both lists will be unconventional. There is a buy button on each bestseller, as well as an icon that lets readers view a few pages of the book (via the company’s Kindle Instant Preview technology). Other features are intended to provide fun insights into the books on the list; Amazon, for example, will tag books as that its data indicates were “unputdownable.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PW is pretty low-key — “both lists will be unconventional” — about something that PG thinks will upend tradpub bestseller metrics.

From a practical standpoint, which list will drive the most sales – NYT or Amazon’s? PG suggests the list that is seen by the most people will drive the most sales.

According to Statista, on average, 183 million users have visited Amazon’s websites per month in 2017. According to SimilarWeb, during the last six months, Amazon had 2.2 billion visits (visits, not visitors). Amazon doesn’t report the number of worldwide active customer accounts any more, but, in 2015, that number was over 300 million.

And, finally, 80% of all US Amazon customers purchase something from Amazon at least once per month.

According to CNN, the “Trump Bump” powered a big increase in New York Times subscribers during Q4 of 2016 and Q1 of 2017, bumping digital and print subscriptions past 3 million.

Fortune has a different take:

Amazon is creating its own version of the New York Times bestseller list.

The e-commerce giant debuted a new formula on Thursday for ranking books sold on its site called Amazon Charts. The new list, which will be updated weekly, will track the top 20 most sold on the site and the most read books.

Link to the rest at Fortune

Deadline Hollywood is even more enthusiastic:

Amazon Takes On New York Times Bestseller List As Standard For Book Success

Amazon continues to disrupt the publishing industry. After changing the way books are consumed — and pushing out brick-and-mortar booksellers in the process — the online goliath is now taking on The New York Times Bestseller List, forever been the standard of success for authors and publishers.

. . . .

Things have never been cordial between Amazon and The New York Times Bestseller List. The latter uses its own algorithm that insiders say excludes books that Amazon publishes on its own imprint because they are not sold in bookstores. Amazon has the ability not only to know how many books are sold online, but how many are actually read.

Link to the rest at Deadline Hollywood

PG suspects the NYT bestseller lists will continue to be authoritative in Manhattan while Amazon Charts will be the go-to lists for the rest of the world.

Amazon, Bestsellers

33 Comments to “Amazon Takes On New York Times Bestseller List As Standard For Book Success”

  1. Summarized from a different comment:

    Week of May 14th

    20 most read:

    Big Pub 16, Amazon 4, Small Pub 0, Indie 0.

    20 Most sold

    Big Pub 10, Amazon 6, Small Pub 2, Indie 2.

    I think the reason the list is limited to 20 is that the more you add, either more lists or more entries, the more you water down the impact of the list. As it is I think calling it “charts” is a mistake. They should have gone for the jugular and called it the Amazon Best Sellers List.

    • the Other Diana

      I think 20 is fine but there should be separate genre lists.

      I read Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Romance and High Fantasy. My children read kids books but the ages are different.

      It would be nice to see what the top selling books are so I can find new reading material. But even if they don’t have those lists, I’ll still find books to read.

      I’ve never once looked at a NYT nor a USAT list to find a book. But I would check Amazon’s list because I’m there (amazon.com) every day.

      • I think the reason Amazon WON’T break the new Most Sold/Most Read Charts by genre any time soon is…

        because the Hot New Releases and Best Seller list by genre still exist.

        What I’d really like to see is Amazon clean up those lists so they only show books that truly fit in the listed genre. I know–that’s easier said than done. 🙂

    • Is it appropriate to define the Pottermore HP ebooks as big pub?

      • They are scholastic, which is a pretty big pub. They’re not amazon, small or indie, which is what I was doing there.

        They already have oodles of what’s selling lists per genre. This is an attempt to make something just as simple as the NYT list. The whole point is to be able to tag something in that same way, as an Amazon Bestselling Book / Author. All the words necessary to explain that you were briefly in the #3 spot on the fiction->romance->erotica->dinosaur_shapeshifter bestselling list don’t have quite the same impact.

        • Gotcha. I thought JKR had secured the ebook rights from Scholastic and had them under her Pottermore name.

          • Perhaps, but still – I have a hard time seeing Rowling as an indie author.

          • Felix J. Torres

            She did.
            Technically she is a hybrid author because she held on to the digital rights and only licensed the print rights.
            Thing is she did to *prevent* the release of an ebook edition. For years and years she refused to allow it.
            It earned her a lot of vitriol from enthusiasts.
            The story, as I heard it, is that for GOBLET OF FIRE (might’ve been ORDER OF THE PHOENIX) a band of about 50 UK “enthusiasts” bought copies at the midnight launch and each scanned a chapter and put the raw scans online. Other associates OCRed the chapters and uploaded that. A bigger pool then proceeded to use the scanned images to proof the OCR text. In about two hours the first readable rtf was online. By 7AM eastern time there fully illustrated epubs and pdfs circulating. FedEx showed up with my shrinked wrapped copy at 9AM.
            Techies can be vengeful: after the last book came out one soul took it upon themselvees to produce a set of eight (SORCEROR’S STONE as well as PHILOSOPHER’S STONE) “pixel by pixel” replica edition pdfs featuring high scans of the illustrations and both UK and US covers. And they truly were page by page and word by word replicas by all reports.

            Years later, she contracted with Sony to do Pottermore and epub editions (originally there wasn’t going to be a Kindle set at launch but Sony missed the deadline and lost the exclusivity) and, because Pottermore uses the pbook covers and illustrations she pays a small royalty to the publishers. Presumably twice a year and six months late.

            Basically she “has people” who work for her, not the publishers, and run POTTERMORE. Call it what you will.

            • Learn something every day. The HP books in the list almost qualify as AP books then, because Amazon paid $$$ to Pottermore so that the HP books could be borrowed as part of the Prime Lending Library, which explains why they all show up on the reading list.

              • “The HP books in the list almost qualify as AP books then”


                the HP books get the sweetheart deal Amazon offers to a handful of publishers, but that does not make them books published by Amazon.

            • “Years later, she contracted with Sony to do Pottermore and epub editions (originally there wasn’t going to be a Kindle set at launch but Sony missed the deadline and lost the exclusivity) ”

              That’s about half wrong. The only thing Sony had was an opportunity to bundle a HP ebook with its ereaders (plus making HP games, etc).

              Pottermore was the exclusive seller for the longest time. That was never a privilege reserved for Sony.

              • Felix J. Torres

                The original plan was for Pottermore to serve only watermarked epubs. Epub stores like Play were given preference.

                That is why there was so much joy in epubland in 2011 about Pottermore. It was the silver bullet that was going to drive the masses away from Amazon.

                If Sony had met the original launch date for Pottermore there would not have been a Kindle deal until after launch. Maybe. Rowling was not a fan of ebooks, much less Kindle, and with Sony whispering in her ears…

                • No.

                  Pottrmore was supposed to start selling ebooks in fall 2011. this was delayed to February 2012.

                  We knew in July 2011 – only a month after the initial announcement – that Kindle would be getting the same access as the other ebook platforms. (And we would have known sooner that I thought to ask Amazon.)

                  The silver bullet you refer to was Pottermore selling the ebooks and _delivering_ them to the various platforms, including the Kindle. If they hadn’t planned to deliver to the Kindle all along then there would not have been a silver bullet.

  2. I haven’t bothered with the NYTimes list in ages. I shop for books pretty exclusively at Amazon, so those are the genres/subgenres/lists that I bother with.

  3. Desmond X. Torres

    The ‘Trump Bump’ of the increase in NYT subscriptions is phony fake news. What the NY Times DID was contact people who had let their subscriptions lapse and offer six months FREE to come back. They then went around touting how they had an enormous increase in digital subscribers.

    Couple that fact with the fact that the NY Times is now renting out office space in their HQ for the first time in the company’s history and it’s not a tough jump to conclude that their influence has waned drastically in the last few years.

    • A lot of us feel the NYT has deliberately ignored indies, lying about statistics to do so, in books – for a long time.

      So I judge their coverage of OTHER topics by knowing they lie about the one I know something about.

      Having also learned about a whole bunch of medical topics lately, and having the same reaction about their articles – that there is considerable bias apparent in the topics I know something about, not impressed.

      Not going to listen to them.

      Too bad. Some of their stuff is good. But I’m now very picky.

      • Desmond X. Torres

        I completely agree w/ you Alicia. The Amazon bias was but one of the tips of the iceberg- there were many others that I started to notice at that time. I had read the Times for 50 years before I cancelled my subscription (that’s how I know about their giveaway). It seems that Chomsky was spot on:

      • Ah! You’re NOT suffering from the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect. Good for you!


        • I guess that was the effect I had a few decades ago watching a popular talk show (of the Phil Donahue, Sally Jesse Raphael type) and seeing a criminal case I knew firsthand (as in I was proximate to the victim and suspects for 8 months, I identified the body for the police, and I knew the particulars of the who and what and when) and saw something so slanted and different from my close-up knowledge, that I realized it was twisted to make it what the producers wanted, what fit their script. I was outraged. But it sure made me distrust media from then on.

          NYTimes has shown itself biased, and Washington Post and, well, name a newspaper? 😀 I read and watch various news sources and try to smash together something that might be
          maybe something nearing “the truest” from the disparate viewpoints. Who knows what’s happening? This is a case where news may just be opinion piece and entertainment. That’s pretty much the conclusion I came up with. They just want to get an audience and they slant it to the audience.

          Even the radio station I listen to the most at home–NPR on a local station–I sometimes stop and think, “Wow, they’re really aggressive with this person from X political side when they went easier on person from Y politcal side.” I still love the programs on there, but there is no question that every station, newspaper, site is slanted and will skew it to their advantage or worldview.

          When I was a journalism student way back when (think Jimmy Carter as Prez), and over and over they drummed into us to double and triple check facts and sources and to labor to be objective…..well, I guess they don’t teach either anymore.

          • Felix J. Torres

            Last summer I bit on a WP free deal. Every morning the headlines are Trump, this, Trump that, Trump. has no pet, Trump. puts ketchup. on steak…
            Obviously I canceled but the emails keep coming. Lately I started opening them just to see how long they keep it up. It looks like they plan to go all the way until 2020 or until some idiot makes Pence president until 2028.

        • Desmond X. Torres

          Thank you for that compliment. I read the whole article by Crichton it was based on (I THINK I had read that piece before). Since this last Presidential election cycle I’ve minimized my news consumption significantly. From over an hour a day to maybe 20 mins glancing at the headlines.
          The main reason for the limited time is that I now read any so called ‘media sources’ with my BS detector set to 11, and that’s tiring.
          I am astonished though, that my current go-to source for news is from Russia. RT America has a couple of really good pundits and journalists on board: Schultz, Hedges, Keiser, and of course the weekly fright laffs on Redacted Tonight (in my view the real heir of Jon Stewart). I go in with skepticism, but have been regularly pleased at their efforts to be balanced; surprisingly so.
          Thanks, Vlad! LOL

        • Thanks for the Crichton link. It made me go looking for the Crichton essays and speeches that I harvested in 2008. I went looking for them again online, and they are gone. The Crichton site is now simply commercial, with no real meat to it. What a loss. Luckily I have everything pdf.

          Read through “Why Speculate?” again, but this time with the viewpoint of “writer of fiction”. Everything he attacks about “speculation” is at the heart of being able to write story.

          I’ve seen too many writers terrified, frozen in fear, of making a “mistake” when they are writing a novel. In their mind they “have” to get everything “right”, or they will be destroyed by “critics”. The reality is, you have to be as free as those pundits to simply create an internally consistent narrative. Remembering that the moment people finish the book, and sigh about a “great story” being done, they will forget all of the details that would fall apart under “critical” scrutiny.

          – Write for “Readers”, not “critics.”

          BTW, Crichton is at the heart of most of the books I publish. No one will know that, because I never mention Crichton in the books. His insights, the whole reason he wrote most of his books is so obvious, but only after somebody points it out, i.e., Murphy’s Law.

          – No matter how carefully you design a system to be safe, there are massive blindspots, that you missed, that will kill you.

          Read any of his books and you will find more than one blindspot per book. Things that are so obvious to the “Reader” once people start getting killed. HA!

  4. It is often alleged that the NYT list can be gamed. That big publishers know the reporting stores and push their titles heavily in those stores.

    And it is further alleged that the NYT games their own list, so that what is on it is what they approve to be on it. There’s even rumor of a court case that decided that bestseller lists are editorial content, not factual, and therefore can say whatever the NYT wants to say.

    Good luck gaming the Amazon lists.

    In the long run, this might even prove advantageous to the NYT. If the Amazon list starts to be a more accurate predictor, the NYT list will lose prestige, and they’ll be under pressure to correct it.

  5. How are pre-orders being counted in these new Amazon lists? With the NYT list publishers could count 6+ months of pre-order sales on one day, which is their main way of gaming the list. Currently Amazon counts a pre-order sale immediately in terms of rankings, but is this new list different?

    • Felix J. Torres

      Amazon is counting preorders as they come in, week by week.

  6. Well, the NYT isn’t honest about anything else so why should we trust them on book sales.

  7. As this spreads, we will probably hear that real readers of literary fiction prefer paper.

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