After Amazon announced last week that it was launching weekly bestseller lists, an analysis of the new feature shows that titles released through Amazon Publishing rank higher here than they do on other national bestseller lists.
Until now, Amazon has tracked book sales on its website on an hourly basis. The new weekly lists from the retailer, called Amazon Charts, are the company's first move into tracking sales using the time frame used by almost all major bestseller lists (from Publishers Weekly's to The New York Times's).
Becasue Amazon Charts tracks sales of all book formats sold via the retailer's various platforms, titles from Amazon Publishing rank higher than elsewhere. The top 20 bestselling fiction books, for the week ended May 21, on Amazon Charts include four titles from the retailer's trade publishing unit: Beneath a Scarlet Sky (Lake Union), Say You’re Sorry (Montlake Romance), Beach Lawyer (Thomas & Mercer), and Merciful Death (Montlake).
No title from an Amazon imprint was among the top 20 bestsellers on PW’s adult bestseller list for the same week. The PW list, which is powered by NPD BookScan, does not include sales of digital editions of books since BookScan doesn't collect e-book figures.
The New York Times recently launched a combined print & e-book bestseller list, but the latest iteration of this last (for the week ended May 21, which will appear in the June 4 edition of the paper) also had no Amazon titles among the top 15 fiction bestsellers for the week. A look at the Times' combined bestseller list for the two prior weeks also found no Amazon Publishing titles among the top 15 bestsellers. While the Times does collect e-book data, it is unclear if Amazon supplies the company with its e-book sales. In addition to e-book and print sales, the Amazon Charts also include sales of digital audiobooks and books read through its subscription services.
For last week, The Handmaid’s Tale was the #1 selling fiction book at Amazon, while The Letter, published by U.K.-based Headline, was #2. At present, The Letter is available as a $1.99 Kindle edition, as well as a $9.62 paperback.
Amazon has long expressed frustration that more of the titles it publishes through its imprints do not appear on national bestseller lists, and the creation of Amazon Charts gives Amazon Publishing titles more visibility.
It's also worth pointing out that the four titles which made the fiction list on Amazon fared poorly on BookScan. Beneath a Scarlet Sky, which is currently #4 on Amazon, sold 1,169 copies in paperback last week. The #9 title on Amazon Charts, Say You’re Sorry, sold just 245 paperback copies, according to BookScan. Beach Lawyer was the 13th top seller at Amazon, but sold only 102 paperback copies according to BookScan. And Merciful Death, at #14, sold eight hardcover copies, according to BookScan, and another 41 in paperback.