Did you get a new type of email from Amazon last week? I did, with a link to the new Amazon Charts website. For years we have been able to see real-time sales rank information on any book on Amazon’s site as well as hourly updates of print and e-book best sellers.
Now Amazon is taking on The New York Times and other venerable best seller lists with a weekly best seller list of fiction and non-fiction books. With a twist.
The twist is that Amazon breaks this into “most read” and “most sold.” “Most read” uses all the information it collects from users of its Kindle e-readers and those using Audible to listen to audio books. “Most sold” includes print, e-books, and audio purchases through its marketplace.
On the one hand, this utilizes the immense amount of data Amazon is constantly collecting to compile its own bestseller lists. At the same time, it is a list that only reflects those using Amazon to buy and read or listen to books. By contrast, The New York Times compiles its lists from a sampling (according to its own secret formula) of independent and chain booksellers and only tells us what people are buying. Truthfully each is selective.
One thing that Amazon does is provide these lists side by side on its “Best Sellers & More” page that includes its Charts lists side by side with The New York Times best sellers. Granted, the books on the Times list also are linked to Amazon’s site. This page also provides editors picks, hourly updates of print, Kindle, and Audible best sellers, and a list of 100 books to read in a lifetime, curated by Amazon’s editors.
Back to Amazon Charts. For each book on the top 20 “most read” and “most sold” lists, you can see reviews, purchase the book, and read a preview. On some books, such as Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Wings and Ruin we have a comment like “unputdownable.” There are also indications of whether the books are eligible for “Prime Reading” (a program where Prime Members can read the book for free) or “Kindle Unlimited” programs.
Obviously, this is designed to drive sales on the Amazon site for those wanting to buy the latest best sellers. Why not? I am not usually that interested in best sellers, unless it is something I want to review, in which case I want to get the book and review it while it is trending. (So such lists do have uses beyond driving sales).
My wife does something online that suggests another use for Amazon Charts. She uses online sites to “pre-shop” so she can decide whether she wants to buy a particular item at a local store. I think Amazon Charts is a great way to pre-shop for books that you might want to browse at a local store and purchase. But then, I think brick and mortar stores are a cultural good that ought to be preserved. Whether or not you agree with my book buying preferences, “Charts” offers another site to learn about the latest and best in books.