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Old 02-04-2011, 02:36 PM   #1
Paul Levine
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This is Big...New York Times' First E-Book Bestseller List

The NYT unveils its first e-book bestseller list next week. Yes, friends, the world is changing.

The number one non-fiction e-book will be Laura Hillenbrand's powerful World War II story, "Unbroken," which I'm currently reading. James Patterson's "Tick Tock," which I'm not reading, will be numero uno in fiction.

But the contents of the list are not as important as this FACT: E-Books are gaining momentum at a dizzying pace and will soon dominate the market.

Then, how about this stat from Steve Windwalker of Kindle Nation Daily?

In March 2008, there were 100,000 Kindles in use. At Christmas 2010, there were 11 million. And by Christmas this year, the estimate is 22 million.

Yowza! Your thoughts?

Paul Levine
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Old 02-04-2011, 03:27 PM   #2
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I guess. IIRC they announced they were doing this a few months ago, though.
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:38 PM   #3
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It is big, and thanks for the note that the list is actually coming to market (there was a somewhat heated discussion about it a few weeks ago).

Not only is it the first mainstream consumer-oriented e-book best-seller list, it's from the New York Times. It is another notch in the "we're here to stay" belt of e-books.

Cool!
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:55 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Paul Levine View Post
James Patterson's "Tick Tock," which I'm not reading, will be numero uno in fiction.
This brings up an issue I've been wondering about: how the offering of free (or even really cheap) ebooks (in this case, as a pre-order) can skew stats and their implications.

Not that I think Patterson isn't popular or couldn't have climbed that high this fast, but he for sure got credit for a sale from me, even though I ordered his book only because it was free, and figured my sister might want to, and I was afraid she might miss the window. (she didn't)

He would not have made those 2 sales had they not been free.

So, do you all think counting free books weakens the meaning of the best seller list?
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:20 PM   #5
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I don't believe free books count.

If publishers or retailers choose to sell books at a lower price to get a higher sales ranking, that's their choice. Pretty much the same as always, I'd assume.
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Old 02-05-2011, 08:59 AM   #6
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I am also interested to see how many will be agency books and how many have promotional pricing.
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:50 AM   #7
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The NYT lists have always been skewed by paid promotion... and the new ebook lists will also favor promotion through the traditional markets.

Suppose, for example, that I hit a ball out of the park and sold 10 million copies of a book... through my own website? NYT will never see those stats, and I won't be on their list. Only if I sold well through one of their traditional channels (existing publishers and booksellers, or now, Amazon and B&N ebook services) would I be noticed.

So, this might be progress, but there are still a lot of holes in their methodology, making this a limited step forward.
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Old 02-05-2011, 11:16 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Steven Lyle Jordan View Post
The NYT lists have always been skewed by paid promotion... and the new ebook lists will also favor promotion through the traditional markets.

Suppose, for example, that I hit a ball out of the park and sold 10 million copies of a book... through my own website? NYT will never see those stats, and I won't be on their list. Only if I sold well through one of their traditional channels (existing publishers and booksellers, or now, Amazon and B&N ebook services) would I be noticed.

So, this might be progress, but there are still a lot of holes in their methodology, making this a limited step forward.
Agreed that the NYT list is useful only if you know the limitations in its compilation, but I think if anyone sold 10 million books outside the list's parameters (or any such large number), it would be a publishing wonder. It would be a significant enough development that the compilers probably would find some way to note it, and if they thought it could happen again, they'd probably try to adjust the parameters of the survey.
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Old 02-05-2011, 11:56 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Maggie Leung View Post
Agreed that the NYT list is useful only if you know the limitations in its compilation, but I think if anyone sold 10 million books outside the list's parameters (or any such large number), it would be a publishing wonder. It would be a significant enough development that the compilers probably would find some way to note it, and if they thought it could happen again, they'd probably try to adjust the parameters of the survey.
Granted, a very large indie selling might trigger such behavior... but I only put that number for the sake of argument. Smaller sales could be just as significant, and not catch the attention of the NYT compilers. The point is, they have no way to measure those numbers now, and there's no telling how long it will take for them to do so.
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Old 02-05-2011, 12:05 PM   #10
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Granted, a very large indie selling might trigger such behavior... but I only put that number for the sake of argument. Smaller sales could be just as significant, and not catch the attention of the NYT compilers. The point is, they have no way to measure those numbers now, and there's no telling how long it will take for them to do so.
The NYT list compilers seem willing to change if they see significant changes in buying patterns, which is why they're now charting e-book sales.

The key is, the sales have to be verifiable. If an independent could prove a significant number of sales, I doubt the list compilers would ignore those sales. People in mainstream publishing are a key audience for the bestsellers list; they want to know who the competition is. Smaller sales aren't counted on this list purposely; it's a bestsellers list.

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Old 02-05-2011, 03:35 PM   #11
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Is there a reliable way for the NYT to poll the thousands of indie authors to get their sales figures?

Then price will be a factor also. Those 99c indie books may have high sales due to impulse buying.
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Old 02-05-2011, 04:47 PM   #12
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Realistically, how many indie authors are going to be missed in a top ten? And, if this were to come to light, the New York Times and its compilers will figure out a way to properly reflect this. Certainly, in order to compile a top ten, you don't need to poll thousands of indie authors. I wonder if there will be an input mechanism from smaller publishers to ensure they get included -- flagging something they believe might be missed?

And, it will be a work in progress in the coming months as the category grows and the compilers figure out the best way to gather the data.
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Old 02-05-2011, 07:10 PM   #13
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Yawn. Amanda Hocking is probably the #1 bestselling e-book author right now and you won't find her on any list. She's already sold half a million copies without a publisher. Amazon will NEVER reveal its sales data and they have most of the ebook sales data in the world--certainly far more than Bookscan or any individual publishers.

This list is a joke. Look who publishes it, and who they represent. The bestseller lists have always been made and not born, and this is only meaningful to a few dozen people in NY who keep holding onto their hopes and fantasies instead of reality.

The bestseller list already exists--at Amazon. Take Top 9 at Amazon, then take one from BN, and repeat to 100, and you will be closer to reality than the NYT list.

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Old 02-05-2011, 08:16 PM   #14
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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/books/11list.html

This article does say that the NYT will include online retailers which they exclude for the print book list. They also say that they will have to calculate the figures differently than they do their other list to account for the differences and manipulation attempts.

When you think of it ... it is no easy task. Some ebooks perhaps Ms Hocking's are 99c and available worldwide while most others are only to US. One book has 6 billion potential customers and the other 320 million. That has to be accounted for somehow. Then there is the old lower the price to 99c to generate sales and reviews then raise it to $9.99 to rake in the dough trick.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/23/books/23kindle.html
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Old 02-05-2011, 08:40 PM   #15
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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/books/11list.html

This article does say that the NYT will include online retailers which they exclude for the print book list. They also say that they will have to calculate the figures differently than they do their other list to account for the differences and manipulation attempts.

When you think of it ... it is no easy task. Some ebooks perhaps Ms Hocking's are 99c and available worldwide while most others are only to US. One book has 6 billion potential customers and the other 320 million. That has to be accounted for somehow. Then there is the old lower the price to 99c to generate sales and reviews then raise it to $9.99 to rake in the dough trick.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/23/books/23kindle.html
It would be nice if readers could filter sales based on their own criteria (say if you want to know the top sales in a specific genre).

The thing with various lists (there are many besides the NYT one) is that they will always be limited by their parameters, collection points, etc. The NYT one has been manipulated by authors before (info is available on Google), too.

For my reading, I don't find such lists useful.

Last edited by Maggie Leung; 02-05-2011 at 08:44 PM.
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