Amazon Aisle: Arts & Photography

Amazon Aisle: Arts & Photography

I used to love to go into a brick and mortar bookstore, and literally walk down every single aisle (yes, it might take hours). Β I pride myself on being an eclectic reader (although I do have preferences, of course), and I always hoped to find something outside of what I might expect.

When I managed a brick and mortar bookstore myself, I encouraged my employees to read something from every section (I did try to do that myself). I would suggest that they ask a regular customer who shopped in the section for a recommendation.

Well, I don’t find myself wandering through Amazon like that. I tend to notice the deals, or things that they are promoting, like the “best” lists. It’s a bit like I go into a store, and only look at the end caps and the wishing wells. πŸ˜‰ Oh, end caps are the shelves that are on the end of the aisle facing perpendicular to the shelves in the aisle, and wishing wells are those giant structures of books on the floor…I don’t see those much any more.

Yes, I only look at what they really want me to see, or look for a specific book, or perhaps “surf” from one book to another via connections.

I feel like I might be missing something by not being as systematic…and you might be, too. πŸ™‚

That doesn’t mean I’m going to look at all of the nearly two million* books in the USA Kindle store! What I can do, though, is look into each of the sections that they provide on the side links. I think of those as being like aisles in a bookstore (although the romance or science fiction sections in a store would typically be several physical aisles.

I’m going to start with the first on alphabetically: Arts & Photography.

Arts & Photography

There are 121,989 at time of writing. That is about 6.1% of the total, which is showing as 1,995,917 right now.

That is then broken down into these categories:

Architecture (4,806) 3.9% of Arts & Photography
Art (8,008) 6.6%
Dance (657) 0.54%
Fashion (40) 0.03%
Graphic Design (3,192) 2.62%
Individual Artists (1,419) 1.16%
Music (70,444) 57.75%
Performing Arts (2,062) 1.69%
Photography (12,644) 10.36%
Theater (15,203) 12.46%

Note that there can be overlap here…the same book might appear in both Performing Arts and Theater, for example.

It’s also important to note that categories are, I believe, assigned by the publisher, not Amazon. That’s the case for sure with independently published books using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, and I’m guessing that’s the case with traditionally published books as well. That can lead to some odd things, since the decision is made for marketing purposes, not to bring the greatest clarity or accuracy. I’ve seen the same book categorized as fiction and non-fiction, for example.

The sidelinks show these authors:

Melissa Foster (4)
William Shakespeare (432)
Shameek Speight (5)
Christine DeMaio-Rice (1)
Arnold Bennett (18)
pleasefindthis (1)
Lois Lavrisa (1)
β€Ί See more…

If you click “See more…”, you get lots of choices…with 54 on the first page and 39 pages, you have over 2,000 authors just in this section.

The first page might make for an interesting dinner party…here are five people appearing in the first column:

50 Cent
Abraham Lincoln
Ace Frehley
Al Gore

That would make for some interesting conversation! πŸ˜‰

Hm…I notice they are alphabetized by their first names…that’s a bit odd, although easier for the computer.

I was curious as to why Al Gore showed up in this category: it was sheet music for a song called “Diggin’ Up Bones”, as performed by Randy Travis…and yes, written by Al Gore (and Nat Stuckey and Paul Overstreet).

Returning to the main Arts & Photography page, 184 of them had Whispersync for voice. That seems like a lot to me…you wouldn’t have that in a photography book, typically. However, I have to remember that there will be things like musician biographies here, I would guess, and plays.

Many (but not all) of the main categories have sub-categories:


Architects, A-Z (174)
Building Types & Styles (689)
Criticism (231)
Drawing & Modelling (589)
Historic Preservation (180)
History & Periods (899)
Interior Design (366)
International (30)
Landscape (387)
Project Planning & Management (342)
Reference (235)
Study & Teaching (196)
Urban & Land Use Planning (1,228)


Art History (4,451)
Instruction & Reference (1,791)
Museums & Collections (291)
Other Media (642)
Painting (799)
Religious (311)
Sculpture (322)
Erotica (424)


Ballet (30)
Ballroom (6)
Classical (164)
Folk (63)
Jazz (8)
Modern (70)
Notation (4)
Popular (75)
Reference (39)
Tap (6)

Graphic Design

Airbrush (18)
Animation (103)
Calligraphy (60)
Cartooning (210)
Clip Art (202)
Commercial (1,083)
Design (725)
Drawing (883)
Graphic Arts (90)
Printmaking (73)
Typography (92)


Business (609)
History & Criticism (2,458)
Instruments & Performers (3,105)
Musical Genres (6,460)
Recording & Sound (557)
Songbooks (2,341)
Theory, Composition & Performance (2,906)


Architectural (75)
Cinematography (112)
Collections, Catalogues & Exhibitions (173)
Color (34)
Criticism & Essays (67)
Darkroom & Processing (55)
Digital Photography (1,255)
Equipment (355)
Erotica (6,159)
Fashion (81)
History (378)
Lighting (183)
Nature & Wildlife (713)
Photo Essays (768)
Photographers, A-Z (530)
Photojournalism (312)
Portraits (479)
Professional (243)
Reference (960)
Travel (299)


Acting & Auditioning (1,055)
Broadway & Musicals (276)
Circus (75)
Direction & Production (217)
History & Criticism (1,508)
Miming (12)
Playwriting (657)
Puppets & Puppetry (50)
Stagecraft (337)

Now, let’s do a quick analysis of the top ten Arts & Photography bestsellers:

Rank Category Price Prime TTS X-ray Lending Overall Rank
1 Music $6.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes 22,209
2 Theater $3.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes 4,369
3 Art $9.55 No No Yes No 5,036
4 Art $8.89 No Yes Yes No 2,158
5 Music $11.04 No Yes Yes No 888
6 Drama $2.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes 6,619
7 Graphic Design $0.00 No Yes Yes No 582
8 Art $8.89 No Yes Yes No 7,251
9 Graphic Design $2.99 No Yes No Yes 19,409
10 Photography $9.98 No Yes Yes Yes 4,741
Average %Yes
$6.53 30% 90% 90% 50%

Hm…I’m not quite sure why the book that is topped ranked in Arts & Photography is considerably lower ranked overall in the store than almost all of the rest of the top ten. I guess they must compute them differently…probably on a different periodicity.

There was one really odd duck in this group:

Blackjack Wayward (The Blackjack Series)

Everything I can see on this page, including the reviews, suggests to me that this is a superhero novel (and not a graphic novel…I even “looked inside” to check). My guess is that the author just thought that it should be in the Drama section because, you know, it’s dramatic. πŸ˜‰ However, “Theater” is another category…it didn’t appear to be a play, though.

Well, I did find this an interesting exercise. It reminded me that there is sheet music in the Kindle store, for one thing…that could a good way to work with it (I’ve used sheet music before).

My feeling right now is that this may be worth doing again with other sections, but feel free to let me know how you liked it…it will also help if you can give me an idea why you did or didn’t. πŸ™‚

* As of writing, there are 1,996,105 titles in the USA Kindle store (in the e-books part). It’s likely that we’ll break two million in the next week or so, but it’s hard to predict exactly…and we could slide back under it afterwards.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in theΒ I Love My Kindle blog.

4 Responses to “Amazon Aisle: Arts & Photography”

  1. tellthetruth1 Says:

    You’ve got me going now, Bufo. “Music: Recording and sound!” Methinks I’ll look into that reference to see if they do anything under SFX (sound effects). I want to know as much as I can glean for making up stuff for radio. (Short recordings, idents, that kind of thing.). Nice one. πŸ™‚

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, tellthetruth1!

      Are you looking to create your own SFX? If not, and you have a SmartPhone or tablet, you might look into “soundboard” apps. There are a lot of those, often free…

      I remember having sound effects on vinyl records…not quite as convenient. πŸ˜‰

      • tellthetruth1 Says:

        Nah, this has to be done the hard way! I use comp and mini disc. Thanks Bufo. πŸ™‚

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    When I first saw the title of this post, I thought you were going to talk about the story reported in the mainstream press about how Amazon is planning to open a fine arts gallery/store in July ( about 5 minutes from now on the East Coast πŸ˜€ ). Apparently Amazon has been quietly reaching out to galleries and museums around the country exploring this: business models, royalties/profit sharing, etc.

    Then I saw the reference to “Blackjack” and I said hey, wait a minute, I just bought something like that. Actually, it was “Blackjack: Villain” which is the first in a new anti-hero science fiction series of which the “Blackjack: Wayward” is the second in the series. I haven’t read “Villain” yet, but the blurb clearly indicates galactic scale scifi (:grin). I too am perplexed as to why it would turn up in your category search.

    I’m just back from a week out your way (about 90 minutes ago) attending Microsoft’s “Build” conference at the Moscone center. Not much to report from there kindle-wise — although Amazon did get a few friendly digs vis a vis AWS. Microsoft is really taking Amazon’s cloud offerings as their most serious competition.

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