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Introducing Amazon Charts – A Bestseller List for What People are Really Reading and Buying

18 May 2017

From the Amazon Press Room:

 Amazon today launched Amazon Charts, a reimagined weekly bestseller list that shares which books are being read the most and which books have sold the most across all formats each week. The Top 20 Most Read is the first ever bestseller list to measure the books millions of Amazon.com customers are really reading and listening to by looking at the average number of daily Kindle readers and Audible listeners. The Top 20 Most Sold list ranks the most books sold, pre-ordered or borrowed each week from Amazon.com, Audible.com and Amazon Books. Amazon Charts include data across all reading formats – whether books are bought or borrowed, listened to or read – to accurately reflect how readers are really reading and buying books today.

. . . .

“When friends make a book recommendation, they recommend books they are really reading and loving,” said David Naggar, vice president, Amazon. “Many well-known bestseller lists today add, remove, or re-rank books based on editorial considerations and customers have asked for a bestseller list that is based on reading engagement and sales data, rather than an opinion-based list of what books they should be paying attention to. We’re excited to give book lovers Amazon Charts to help them discover their next great read.”

Key Amazon Charts features include:

  • What’s really being read: Amazon Charts Top 20 Most Read is the first list to rank books by the average number of daily Kindle readers and daily Audible listeners each week – giving customers the opportunity to see what’s actively being read or listened to every week.
  • What’s really being bought or borrowed: Amazon Charts Top 20 Most Sold ranks books according to the number of copies sold and pre-ordered through Amazon.com, Audible.com and Amazon Books stores and books borrowed from Amazon’s subscription programs such as Kindle Unlimited, Audible.com, and Prime Reading.
  • The stories behind the books: When exploring Amazon Charts, readers can browse fun insights into how other readers are reacting to each book. From which books were Most Anticipated according to the rate of customer pre-orders, to which Kindle books were simply Unputdownable, according to how quickly customers read a book from cover to cover.

Link to the rest at Amazon Press Room

Here’s a link to Amazon Charts

PG thinks this looks like a tremendous resource for authors and others who are watching the book markets. It’s also a reflection of Amazon’s continued innovation in the somnolent business of publishing.

PG predicts Amazon Charts will help to speed the demise of the NYT, USA Today, etc., bestseller lists as providers of meaningful market information.

PG was fascinated to review the Most Read listings for Nonfiction. Alexander Hamilton, a truly superb 2005 biography of one of the most fascinating personalities in US history is ranked number 5 on the most-read list and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey’s evergreen book, first published in 1989, is ranked number 12.

It is also noteworthy that being included in the Amazon Charts Most Read list is noted in the product description for each book on the list, right below the number of reviews. It will be interesting to see how the Most Read lists impact sales of books that have fallen off the bestseller lists.

PG predicts Most Read romance, YA, etc., lists will not be far behind.

PG also suspects Data Guy at Author Earnings will have some intriguing ideas for using this additional data.


69 Comments to “Introducing Amazon Charts – A Bestseller List for What People are Really Reading and Buying”

  1. It has the same problems the NYT faced: what good is a list with certain books parked on it – such as the Harry Potter books (3 or more). So they’re being read – so what? I’m not going to read them if I haven’t already.

    I’m so happy for Rowling – but it doesn’t help me find anything.

    They need an ‘Emeritus’ list.

    • That’s actually not a bad idea. “Most read new books” and “Most read xx months/years” books. The new books list will get new sales.

      • Two or three lists: the actual tops (no matter release date) and the top of the last year’s release and last 3 month’s release..

        I’ve read the HP books, and a lot of people probably read the more talked-about top sellers. So, really, what are the more RECENT top sellers. Because ranking day to day can change so much. But what consistently sold well in the last quarter and last year, that would be good.

      • The new books list will get new sales.

        Amazon is very happy to sell another copy of Harry Potter. Unless it’s their imprint, they don’t care how old it is.

        Let the new compete with the old.

        • The issue isn’t Amazon’s sales; it’s the usefulness of the list. By far the most important–and difficult–issue for readers is discoverability. A list with duplicate entries of well known authors just isn’t worth checking. “Books reviewed on blogs”, say, would make a more interesting list.

    • Felix J. Torres

      No. They do not.
      That is precisely the kind of hijinks that frittered away the NYT list’s credibility: massaging the list to serve publisher agendas.
      Better they go with unvarnished facts and let the chips fall as they will.
      If it turns out that a twelve year old book is outperforming new releases we should be considering why not try to hide it. Is the biography book that great? Or are the new releases that poor? Did somebody who is somebody highlight it?
      Way too many top sellers are never finished or even started; there is value in seeing wh readers really read. And if it mutes the marketing of fresh produce so be it.
      An un-massaged truthful list is a delightfully subversive followup to the buy button highlighting the remaindered book “scandal”.

      • I just want Moar Data, not the top 20 🙂 The difference between the Most Read and Most Bought is interesting too. My take is people would rather re-read Harry Potter than buy a new book–question is, why? Is it because they loved it the first time, or because they are more certain they will have an enjoyable reading experience based on other readers’ enjoyment? (Full disclosure: while I did read all the books and enjoyed them, I didn’t enjoy them enough to want my own copies or re-read them. Popcorn books–and there is nothing at all wrong with popcorn!)

        • Felix J. Torres

          Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

          I’m most curious why after 22 years and 15 of quietly taking flak from the NYT they chose to counterattack *now*, ’cause make no mistake, the headline on the press release is a clear attack on the NYT and the rest of the establishment.

          Also, yes: the top 100 would suit me better than just the top 20. Of course, thry could be holding that back for the next round.

          • Why now? Perhaps it’s taken a while to accumulate enough reading data to understand things the rest of us don’t know. Now they have decided to deploy the weapon.

            Imaging what fun it would be if every book had a ratio of pages read to pages purchased. The outrage at Chinese reading farms…

      • Agreed, Felix. Exactly.

      • I’m more interested in “most read” than “most sold,” actually. I hope they do more in various categories of “most read.”

    • I’m so happy for Rowling – but it doesn’t help me find anything.

      The ‘reading’ list isn’t supposed to help you find anything. It’s supposed to be an unvarnished look at what people are reading regardless of when it was released or bought. I support that, although since it’s not a ‘bestselling’ list it could stand to be double the size.

      I suspect the fact that 5 of the 20 books on the “most read” list being Harry Potter books might be due to using Kindle books in the classroom, and/or Kindle freetime (kids) accounts.

      I also wonder if the “books people are reading” list is affected by Overdrive borrows. I suspect that if I check an HP book out of my local library onto my kindle, and then read it, it counts towards this statistic. That would go a long ways towards explaining why the HP books are “most read” without being “most sold”. It would also explain why the “most sold” books aren’t necessarily on the “most read” list.

      No straight indies on the most read list, only a few on the most sold list.

      • Felix J. Torres

        Overdrive probably count since those books are delivered out of Amazon “stock” KU and Prime Reading (expanded to the UK today) almost certainly count in full.

        • “Amazon Charts include data across all reading formats – whether books are bought or borrowed, listened to or read”

          — emphasis mine.

          • Felix J. Torres

            I saw that.
            But it doesn’t specify where the borrowing occurred.
            Hence the weasel wording. 😉

  2. Why did they list the publisher and agent for each book? I find that odd. Why would the average reader care who the agent on the book is? Or is that there for some other purpose?

    • Making agents and publishers support the list seems to be the only one. They care; readers don’t.

      • Felix J. Torres

        Oh, they’re sneaky ones: listing agents and publishers gives them bragging points when sweet-talking dreamers but it also makes it easy to see when a book does well without them.

        • Then they should add the editors too, so you know a book was improved/destroyed by the same guy/gal of the last book you loved/hated. 😉

        • I think it’s subversive. People are going to wonder when books without agents make the list.

          I also think the list will probably get longer, to 50 or 100 entries.

          It also gives visibility to the evergreens and tilts book selling towards ebooks.

          • Felix J. Torres

            It definitely undercuts the fresh produce. Plus, one enormous hidden bomb just waiting to go off: Pre-orders counted when ordered instead of on release.

          • Smart Debut Author

            MKS nailed it.

            And 2 of the titles on the Weekly Most Purchased List were undeniably self-published:

            That’s 10% of the Top 20 purchased books in America last week, with nary a publisher or agent in sight…

  3. I hope they break out genre lists. That would be so nice to see.

  4. I can’t wait to learn how this is another evil Amazon plot to take over the world!

    • Felix J. Torres

      Well, obviously its all about POD.
      Because this week’s meme is that it’s all about POD.

    • We haven’t had a good KU kerfluffle in a while. I bet it’s all about KU! 🙂

    • Martin! We’re not supposed to talk about that. Didn’t you get the sooper seekrit memo? Gosh, now you’ve let the cat out of the bag, they’ll be onto us. 🙁

  5. Roger Packer recently blogged about Amazon imprint books dominating Amazon’s bestsellers. Uh…duh. I have a Kindle Unlimited account and when I click on it, the books that pop up are Amazon imprints. You have to dig deeper to find other publishers. Can’t blame them for promoting their own, but it feels rigged to me.

    • On the one hand, Amazon promotes their own, and sells everything.

      On the other hand, Barnes & Noble sells almost everything, but NOT Amazon; and they promote what the publishers pay them to promote.

      I think I’ll still choose Amazon’s approach.

    • Felix J. Torres

      Of course it’s rigged.
      So are the sales everywhere else that boycott APub titles in full. So, what is Amazon to do? Let the B&N-led boycott destroy their tradpub publishing business. With 2000 titles a year(?) it’s no small investment or commitment to their authors.

      In the best of all worlds all retailers would be supplier neutral and everybody would compete on a level playing field.
      That is not this world we live in.

      In this world we have to settle for the least tilted field.

      • Felix, what do you think, in terms of process, not content… re amz

        It seems to me that over time, taking any one ‘sudden idea’ amz has and reacting to it as though it is a one-off, would be not analytical enough.

        For instance, in horses, they will often start running, and if one thought they are just running, or running toward some particular place, they wouldnt be knowing horses. Often horses run to show a female nearby how strong they are.

        That’s just a tiny example, of guessing wrongly about cause and effect.
        Knowing horses have strategies that are inborn and somewhat like amz since horses and often amz dont speak about what they are really doing… makes any move by horses far more than is seen by the average observer on the surface of things.

        To switch metaphors, and trust, I do not know how to play chess very
        well, [but do know how to play poker as our father taught us, by memorizing all cards shown, and deducing what’s left in deck and calculating my chances for a winning hand.] In chess too, in other words, not just playing a
        game, but unleashing a many faceted strategy to play the game, only some tactics of which show above ground with more to come.

        Seeing amz as a chess board that has already a strategy in place, am I on the right track? That one move is not the next move only, it is setting in place an entire protection against the ‘taking of’ the castle/king/queen etc in order to expand the empire hugely, by placing both permanent and temporary strategies, with the idea, as in chess, ‘of taking’ down whatever other castles, kings/queens/ knights/ rooks exist.

        This latest seems to me to be a piece of a larger strategy 20 top books, in a way, who cares, most books in print and OP are not in ebk form anyway, and the public domain ebks done by some fast johnnies are often done so poorly as to be near unreadable.

        It would seem to me, what smaller strategy is this 20 books, part of a much larger, planned out strategy? Horses running to show strength to the objects of their desire? In order to connect with whom, for instance. Beyond readers. Someone, something else. Alibaba ought never be ruled out either as potential co-supplier or competitor, which it is in several ways.

        Or/and chess strategy for taking more, this being a bite at the ankles of the kings and queens and castles? But seeming a tiny glancing bite when in fact the maces are already prepared and poised to swing hard?

        {re this ” Amazon Charts Top 20 Most Read is the first list to rank books by the average number of daily Kindle readers and daily Audible listeners each week”… I think AMZ may know that with vast 24/7 piracy of both items, audio and ebooks, one cannot possibly find rank for who is top read/listened to. Just limited to amz, only. the massive p2p or bit downloads free across seems like thousands of pirate sites at present wiht more to come, making their money on ads and subscriptions etc. with no share to author, or amz or pub.]

        • Felix J. Torres

          I tend to agree.
          There’s moves to follow.
          More than the categories they’re tallying I noticed the ones they *didn’t*.

          I see Amazon’s *strong* commitment to Indies as strategic, dating to November 2009. Before then it was more tactical–a market necessity, but not key to survival. Once they heard from their Random House stoolie of the conspiracy, they decided they needed strong alternatives to the BPHs. So, while they have no interest in actually destroying them, cutting their power down to size is desirable. Since then they’ve built up APub, helped Indie, Inc prosper, helped build up alternative to discrete sales (Overdrive, KU) and cut their exposure to the whims of the BPHs by half. All through a series of incremental, often disconnected moves that have turned the table. Instead of Amazon being dependent on the BPHs for over half their book business, it is the multinationals that are dependent on Amazon.

          If this is not a coordinated campaign, somebody is either very lucky or sold their soul to a dark entity. 🙂

          I don’t see the endgame in sight yet, though.
          Amazon has yet to peel off the traditionalist authors from the BPH alliance. When the Author’s Guild shows some teeth we’ll see the beginning of the end game.

          It’s been an interesting decade…

          • i think you hit it on the head Felix. Thanks. “cutting the Bph to size’ in other words enslaving the kings and all their resources. Nicer way of saying, bph become suppliers not dictators re price, ‘curation’ etc.

            Around ten years ago I met with a group of agent friends in ny. Amz came up as a bookselling outlet. But, amz had just hired ‘the shark’, top old head guy away from Time Warner, and tho they let him go later, as they should have, for he was an old fashioned mind who made a mint for his pub co but had NO grasp of THIS time and that publishers’ personal version of ‘book of revelation’ had begun.

            I said, Amz wants to dominate publishing; they are gearing to scrape ad publish thousands of authors via authors epub and also they are going to open their own publishing imprints.

            Agents,good persons, hard working, accomplished in placing thousands of authors on road to success in writing more, suddenly looked like I had said I just put horse mash in their drinks.

            Scoffing all around. They said No. amz is distrib only.

            I said No. Amz is a manufacturer of goods and silk road. Didnt you ever read Asian/Euro trade route history, or maybe youve never been to mexico, middle east, sub continent? [where 20 shops with different names and products and different price points, all belong to exact same family and in back room, high quality goods are being made by family labor, and money runs in a circle, not paying outside sources other than possibly piles of wool and clay?

            More scoffing.

            When heard recently, Felix, that amz wanted to set up clothing manufacturing, where and how i do not know, I thought death knell worldwide for needleworkers factories, prob quite a few retail outlets, many many lost jobs, lower wages for mfg on the line. I dont know. Seems there ought to be share-trade rather than take it or leave it. I just dont know yet how it’s going to flang out.

            I know costco tried to do in groggery stores, liquor stores, cheapest clothing alive exc for wally world. Just wonder how it will all come out if suppliers of food and other items, growers, farmers etc are squeezed more and more -by any large corp international reaching agency, and jobs are lost in the six or 7 figures y mas, and even as goods are cheaper and cheaper, with food scarcity a reality, wonder will all be able to buy if they have no jobs.

            It’s amazing how quickly this beccame true that you wrote: “Instead of Amazon being dependent on the BPHs for over half their book business, it is the multinationals that are dependent on Amazon.”

            Hang on to your hat

            • Felix J. Torres

              I think you may have heard about Amazon’s clothing-on-demand patent from April:


              Combine it with an enhanced version of the Fashion advisor system that might produce custom fitting measurements and they’d have the ability to produce personalized attire on demand. Instead of a customer trying to fit into a standard size of clothing the clothing would be custom fitted for them. (A first step towards the SciFi dream of a home clothier.)

              One of the key advantages of the new manufacturing technologies is precisely the ability to personalize products on the fly with computers and robotics. Amazon isn’t the only one working on these applications but they have the funding and distribution channels to bring those functions in-house, giving them a leg up on the other players aiming in the same direction.

              I wouldn’t worry too much about people. Those willing to adapt will find plenty of demand for the new jobs opening up. Not every business is as hidebound as NYC publishing. 🙂

              • thanks Felix. agree, seems often thats the tipping point advantage is seems “funding and distr channels to bring in house”. Seems having the first but not second and no time to build second strong enough to compete big … is most small companies ‘ position, lack of one of the two.

                I wonder how the small biz can compete.

                also wonder about clothing on demand

                Anyone who’s everhad a suit made in singapore and never worn it more than once knows why ‘custom fit’ might not best vs readymade altered after.

                Re red flannel shirt. Which of the thousands of shades of red. Fabric, shine, matt, woven with depth or flat thin, lightweight, mid or heavy flannel, quality of fabric… flatness of seams, matching pattern at arms and cuffs–seems like one would have to have a whole bunch of samples first if one cared about even min qual.

  6. Cue the sockpuppets.

    • Yeah. Until they can get the scammers in KU dealt with, I’m not sure how they expect people to have trust in these charts.

      I’m still unclear how they count which books have been “most read”. I may buy a book and not read it for years. I only connect my reading Kindle to the internet when I want to download the new books, not while I’m reading, so it may be offline for months at a time. And even for devices connected all the time, does this rely on background data? Because a lot of us turn that off of any app that doesn’t absolutely need it to function, and Kindle/Audible apps are generally included in that.

      These are not my only reservations about the reliability of these charts. However, it’s not as if they’re any worse than the current bestseller charts. It sounds like a good step toward being more reliable info, but still far from definitive.

      • I’m not sure how they expect people to have trust in these charts.

        Some enthusiasts may not trust the lists. Amazon doesn’t care. They are far more interested in the rest of consumers.

      • I wondered about the ‘how’ as well. My Kindle doesn’t stay connected either, but I suspect a lot of people do stay connected 24/7, so perhaps the data comes from them.
        I may be a bit paranoid, but doesn’t this [possible] level of surveillance strike anyone as…unhealthy?

        • It’s a choice. Like eating fried food.

        • Felix J. Torres

          For starters, the data is anonymized.
          And then, they are only interested in bulk numbers.
          When collecting data from 50 million Kindle accounts they have no use for knowing the reading habits of any single users.

          Besides, any connected computing device you use does that and more regardless of the OS; iOS, Android, Windows. If it’s connected it captures data. And in most cases it is data you want them to have; diagnostics, failure modes, transfer rates.

          The only way to have anything vaguely resembling digital privacy is to stay offline and never connect.

          • The readers who use multiple devices to consume content (and so synch their behavior) are more valuable customers. I’m an Amazon customer with multiple Fires, a Prime subscriber, who watches Amazon videos, listens to Audible books, plays video games, shops with Amazon, and has an Amazon credit card. Female over 50. Still dont have an Echo and not subscribing to Unlimited.

            So, I’m providing lots of data, which they can use to market even more stuff to me, and the data they collect on me gives them information to use to market to other people like me.

            In contrast is my husband, with an old Kindle he side-loads with e-Books, doesn’t use the credit card, and is completely invisible to Amazon. He doesn’t have an account at all. He has no value as a customer so there’s no point in going to great efforts to capture his behavior or even be concerned about what it might be. Amazon can leave him to sustain the B&M market.

            Felix is right about privacy, but it gets even worse. “near field communication” is all the buzz now about physical stores using your cell phone to track your movement within the store. RFID tags imbedded in packaging will be used to track when you move purchases. Your phone can be individually keyed to you when you make your first purchase using a credit card, loyalty club account, personal check, or pay via phone system. Who you are with, the route you take through the store, how long you linger in any one place in response to store layout, what you buy will all be tracked.

            • Thank you. I think you’ve just put me off the 21st century entirely. I could live with randomised data, just, but being tracked via my phone? That is seriously creepy. I know I’m an old dinosaur, but I do actually love tech, just not /this/ tech. 🙁

              • You are under video surveillance in most retail establishments too, usually at the entrances, near the registers, near dressing rooms and restrooms. It’s to prevent theft and for staff safety but that footage is also sent to the cloud and used to analyze ergonomics and floor layout appeal.

                Does your jurisdiction require that there be signage notifying you? This stuff has been sneaking up on us in the US.

                • I know that some places do have closed circuit cameras, but here the only ones I’m aware of are the ones that actually show you, on screens, walking through the store. So you’re aware of the fact that you’re under surveillance. That doesn’t bother me as it’s no different to a member of staff ‘watching’ the customers. It’s the idea that something I carry on my person is being used to track me. That just feels so wrong. 🙁

            • Doesn’t your device require you to agree to allow the Bluetooth/NFC connection? Other than Weather and my preferred airline, I do not allow any app to know my location unless I am using the app. Having said that, I use the Sam’s Club scan app when I shop to check out with my phone. I suppose they would be able to track my movements around the store as I scan items, pay for them and walk out the door. Maybe that’s reasonable since they are trusting me to scan the correct items. There is someone at the door that eyeballs your checkout screen, probably making sure you don’t have a TV in your cart that isn’t scanned.
              I do find it creepy, but as long as I am in charge of who I allow access to, I am open to it in exchange for the convenience. I do not use Apps that require my location Always, even when I am not using the app. For instance, CVS requires this if you are going to use their pre-order/drive up door service. That’s not worth the convenience to me.

              By the way, like MKS, I am also not an Unlimited user, am also a multiple device user (Apple IOS) who moves between devices to order products and read books. The convenience of being able to sync devices so that it keeps track of how far I am in each book is worthwhile to me. However, I only use this for free Kindle books. When I buy a book, I want to easily sideload so that I can keep the file on my own hard drive (in case I need to switch formats and for continued access regardless of the platform). Unfortunately, the Amazon Kindle app treats sideloaded books as second-class citizens. In order to make the syncing work seamlessly across all devices, I ideload to iBooks. So all of that activity would be invisible to Amazon.

  7. I would be interested in more detail on what “read” means. One page, ten pages, the whole thing? Are the rankings by total pages read, total time spent on the book, number of times the book was opened? For older books, I’ll often go back and reread just one or two favorite scenes.

    • For older books, I’ll often go back and reread just one or two favorite scenes.

      I do, too, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they probably break that out as well. Especially since they already have the “most highlighted” feature that I always turn off.

      • Jamie, I also keep the “most highlighted” turned off, figuring it’s like previous readers’ comments in the margins. But is it? What is the point of this feature, do you know?

        • The point of it I do not know, only that it was really annoying 🙂

          In case I missed something, I looked up Amazon’s explanation just now. I still don’t see a point spelled out, only them confirming that you’re right, it just tells us that a given passage was frequently highlighted or noted by assorted Kindle readers.

          I have always interpreted this feature as an attempt to join in the “social” trend, back when places some websites wanted you to buy something and “share” with your entire contact list whatever it was you just bought. Only it’s letting you know that lots of people like the same quote that you might like.

          • About what I thought, too. Thanks.

            • It can be useful to students, book club members, people learning English as a second language and authors.

            • It can be useful to students, book club members, people learning English as a second language and authors. Like reviews, it can also be a way to editorialize for political and religious agendas in a subtle way.

    • Felix J. Torres

      Won’t matter; it’s a weekly average per book. Total pages divided by total readers.

      Great for identifying the next GOLDFINCH.: )

    • The press release says this… ” Amazon Charts Top 20 Most Read is the first list to rank books by the average number of daily Kindle readers and daily Audible listeners each week”

      • Felix J. Torres

        They are changing the “conversation” from “what are people buyimg” to “what are people reading”. Not good news for one-week-wonders on the NYT list.

        I’m reminded at the uproar from some (clueless) tradpub authors when KU 2.0 went live and they thought Amazon was only going to pay *them* in proportion to *their* pages read. I believe the expression is “they let their slip show”. They know a good chunk of their money comes from books not finished or even read. Living by KU rules would ruin their finances.

        That was delusion but now Amazon Charts brings their nightmare a couple inches closer. Having their launch campaigns torpedoed is not going to sit well.

        Now to see how many react to protect themselves vs the ones who’ll just go on anti-Amazon rants.

        • Between the chart showing “most read” and the buy button allowing remainders that never got unboxed to be sold first instead of the still-in-stock at the publishing house… that’s a one-two knockout punch for pushed “bestsellers”.

          Interesting times.

          • Imagine the “showroomers” in front of the piles of best-sellers checking online to see if anybody actually *reads* the poor pyramid of potential pulp and then passing on the purchase.

        • I’m reminded at the uproar from some (clueless) tradpub authors when KU 2.0 went live and they thought Amazon was only going to pay *them* in proportion to *their* pages read.

          It’s worse. Consumers are going to buy in proportion to their pages read.

    • I wonder bookworm, about people who read like my family does. In parts, ten books at a time, spates, then hiatus, then reading again, and esp for non fiction, reading for what one needs and leaving the rest, but what was gained was important or critical or fascinating.

      given the padding of many books including ebks, wonder if ‘how many pgs read’ really can be analyzed if one doesnt also analyse the thousands of ways people read by skipping what is boring, reading a book over weeks or months without going straight through.

      Dont know

      • Felix J. Torres

        Any big data collection system has issues and holes. That is why the datasets have to be big, to smooth out individual idiosyncrasies and highlight bulk behavior. Trends and anomalies are more important than decimal point precision. Amazon’s reading “data farm” is on the order of 50M Kindle accounts. And they need to track some 5M titles. Out of those, maybe a few thousand will register enough activity to provide meaningful data.

        Where the Books Read data can prove interesting is in tracking week to week changes. Does a politician’s memoir sell a million copies in a week but register no reads? Does a bestseller vanish after a week?

        Amazon Charts is offering up information that hasn’t been available before. Nobody (except maybe Amazon) knows what normal read-to-sales ratios should look like. Do reads peak on release week or the week after? The month after? Will anything but million sellers even register at the top of the reading list? Or might it be possible to show up with lesser total sales?

        We don’t know.
        We haven’t known.
        Now, maybe we will.

        This is “something new in the world.”
        It might change everything or it might change little.
        But it *will* spark discussion. New thought. That alone might be enough.

  8. “Now to see how many react to protect themselves vs the ones who’ll just go on anti-Amazon rants.”

    They’re one and the same my friend, the only way they’ll see to protect themselves will be to rant that Amazon’s being mean to them – again.

    • Felix J. Torres

      None will consider what, say, Lois Bujold is doing?
      Self-pub some shorter works on the side to develop a publisher-free *supplemental* revenue stream? Create a fallback insurance against further disasters on the tradpub side?

      For all that the ADSers lecture Indies on putting too much trust on Amazon, they are the ones handcuffed unto eternity to a single distribution system, often a single publisher. Indies can afford all-in because the commitment is short and revocable, not life of copyright. They always have the option to move on. That is the essence of Indie.

      “No strings on me.”

      • Suburbanbanshee

        It is not publisher-free. Bujold has made her agent her publisher, just like Elizabeth Moon did.

        You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him think.

  9. I do feel like the data of the first one has the potential to be very skewed. Longer books. Books that are tougher to get through. Slower reads. Won’t they hit list tops even if something like The Hunger Games or Harry Potter (on the shorter side) is actually being read and enjoyed more?

    • Felix J. Torres

      If a book is good enough neither length or “difficulty” will be an issue. The real question isn’t “quality” or merit but meeting expectations raised by marketing. Readers that abandon books are a sign of mismatched expectations. They expected more, less, or something different. Some might blame themselves, some will shrug, and some will feel they were lied to. Either way, the bad experience will linger.

      Amazon’s primary job is to satisfy customers so they come back. They can’t police cover or blurbs, much less critical praise or astroturfed buzz. All they can do is highlight facts and hope *they* won’t be blamed.

      Obviously every author wants to sell and be read. But sales at any cost do come with a cost. When a top selling book is abandoned mid-stream by half the readers (say, GOLDFINCH), what are the odds that any further releases by the author will sell as well? GOLDFINCH sold a ton and half the readers did finish it and many loved it so it wasn’t necessarily a bad book. Just a book oversold by critics and promoters. But in the end it makes no difference. Given current BPH practices, what are the odds that the author of an underperforming release gets a career-saving break?

      Anything that helps steer readers to books *they* will like and raise cautions about ones that aren’t for everybody helps both readers *and* authors.

  10. Week of May 14th

    20 most read:

    1: BP
    2: AP
    3: BP
    4: AP
    5: BP
    6: BP
    7: BP (penguin)
    8: BP
    9: BP
    10: BP
    11: BP
    12: BP (penguin)
    13: AP
    14: AP
    15: BP
    16: BP
    17: BP (penguin)
    18: BP (S&S)
    19: BP
    20: BP

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

    20 Most sold

    1: BP
    2: BP (penguin)
    3: BP
    4: AP
    5: AP
    6: BP
    7: AP
    8: BP
    9: SP
    10: BP
    11: SP
    12: BP (penguin)
    13: AP
    14: BP
    15: BP
    16: IP
    17: AP
    18: BP (S&S)
    19: IP
    20: AP

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

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