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Amazon and the Wild World of Bestseller Lists

My book, The Digital Mystique, has now been out for a month and it has been fascinating to watch the online sales through Amazon as an author as well as a digital media strategist, techie and data geek. Now I can say legitimately that my book is a bestseller – even though it was published by a small publisher. Here’s why…

First, a little background: book publishing is an odd industry and the way it is integrating with digital media has created an in-the-moment ranking and extreme categorization phenomenon. My book has two versions on Amazon – paperback and Kindle – and each of those versions is categorized in a few parent categories and several subcategories. Each book or ebook in those categories goes up against whatever books are selling well on each day, each hour. Amazon updates its bestseller lists hourly and provides total sales numbers weekly to authors.

We knew “pub month” (the first month of the book’s release) would be the time most people would buy the book – or at least all at once. As a new release, my book was automatically included in a special category for new books and its sales compared with other new books under “Hot New Releases” in addition to the general Bestseller categories. So I created a spreadsheet and had a few people help me watch Amazon on key dates to see where the book was in the rankings. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Here’s what we found, from the date the book was released early, through this week (actually a 6 week span):

  • #1 in Kindle Hot New Releases – Media & Communications
  • #1 in Amazon Books Hot New Releases – Gender Studies
  • #3 in Kindle Bestsellers – Media & Communications
  • #7 in Amazon Books Hot New Releases – Media & Communications
  • #7 in Kindle Bestsellers – Gender Studies
  • #8 in Kindle Hot New Releases – Popular Culture
  • #8 in Kindle Hot New Releases – Business: Industries
  • #10 in Amazon Books Hot New Releases – Pop Culture (General / Social)
  • #24 in Kindle Bestsellers – Popular Culture
  • #26 in Kindle Hot New Releases – Social Sciences
  • #50 in Kindle Hot New Releases – Political & Social Science
  • #51 in Kindle Hot New Releases – Business & Money
  • #70 in Amazon Books Hot New Releases – Social Sciences
  • #71 in Kindle Bestsellers – Business: Industries
  • #81 in Amazon Books Bestsellers – Media & Communications

Kindle 1 Media HNR

My team took screenshots and noted dates for each of these in order to prove the rankings and keep track of what they looked like, which was a chore, but it was worth it. And it’s still possible the book will rank higher in other categories in coming weeks and months, but less likely than the first month. So that’s how my book made its mark in the world of Amazon and Kindle and hopefully more importantly it will help some people and educate readers about the digital world – including but not limited to Amazon and ebooks.