None of the top 10 bestselling USA Kindle store books are from the Big 5

None of the top 20 bestselling USA Kindle store books are from the Big 5

In my The Year in E-Books 2015, and other places, I’ve noted that Amazon is putting a lot of effort into having less dependence on the Big 5 tradpubs (traditional publishers): Hachette; Macmillan; Simon & Schuster; HarperCollins; and Penguin Random House.

Well, at least in the USA Kindle store, they appear to be achieving it.

I just checked the

Top 100 Paid (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and none of the top 10 were from the Big 5!

Here’s the detail on the top ten:

Rank Title Price Publisher K1st? KU? TTS? X-Ray? Word Wise? Lending? WSV Stars Reviews
1 The Moonlit Garden $5.99 Amazon Yes Not Yet Yes Yes Yes No No 4.2 26
2 Fields of Wrath $5.99 Amazon Yes Not Yet Yes Yes Yes No No 4.7 18
3 Harmony Black $5.99 Amazon Yes Not Yet Yes No Yes No No 4.7 47
4 Yours Completely $0.99 Indie No Yes Yes No Yes No No 4.6 136
5 The Short Drop $5.99 Amazon No Yes Yes Yes No No No 4.7 2,605
6 Becoming Marta $5.99 Amazon Yes Not Yet Yes Yes No No No 3.6 18
7 A Shade of Vampire $0.99 Indie Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No 4.3 5,225
8 Simply Tuesday $8.19 Revell No No Yes No No Yes No 4.9 258
9 Captain Riley $5.99 Amazon Yes Not Yet Yes Yes Yes No No 4.4 10
10 The Girl with No Past $2.99 Indie No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No 3.9 434

#12 is from Penguin Random House…but it’s also worth noting that it is priced at $1.99.

In fact, I didn’t hit a book that was over $9.99 until #21 (The Girl on the Train).

So many of these books were in

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

or will be (the Kindle 1st books, published by Amazon, can’t be in KU until they are published on February 1st), that I thought they had to be counting borrows in calculating this.


My guess is that being in KU might reduce sales…would you be just as likely to buy a buy a book that you can borrow as one that you can’t?

However, it could conceivably go the other way: people read or sample a book as part of KU, and then buy it for themselves or someone else.

I’m not seeing anything that indicates that KU is part of calculating sales…although I’m not seeing anything that clearly excludes it.

Text-to-speech is available on all of the books (yay!), but oddly, I didn’t see that any of them were Whispersync for Voice enabled, and that’s usually quite high. Maybe they’ve just changed the display of that information, and I’m not seeing it.

Pretty simply, based on the top sellers, Amazon really doesn’t need the Big 5…at least for Kindle formats. That’s a very small sample, though.

I serendipitously bumped into two things while writing this post.

One was this

Kindle Sales Rank calculator at Kindlepreneur

Supposedly, you put in the sales rank number, and it tells you about how many books (really licenses) a day are being sold.

I don’t know how accurate it is, but it was intriguing.

I’m surprised I didn’t know that site. I’ll have to read through it, but it looks interesting. The first blog post looks like it was in February of last year.

It appears to be centered around how authors can make more money through Kindle editions…and looks professionally designed, with actual numbers for some stats. I’ll give you a fuller report when I’ve had time to assess it.

The second thing was

Kindle Unlimited All-Stars (at AmazonSmile*)

According to Amazon, this is based on “…adding up the number of books sold, borrows from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and the number of books read in Kindle Unlimited.”

It’s even searchable here:

Kindle Unlimited All-Stars by Featured (at AmazonSmile*)

ILMK has the

ILMK Readers’ Recommendations: book discovery zone

but more resources are good. 🙂

I used my personal Kindle Unlimited wish list to pick a book this morning…I’m reading The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis (inspiration for the David Bowie movie).

I think KU is going to be of increasing importance, and the Big 5 are doing to need to figure out what to do about that: either join it or really ramp up D2C (Direct to Customer) efforts…

There could be a seasonal impact here: people might have bought tradpubs more during the holiday season and when they were spending gift certificates. The beginning of the month probably also benefits Kindle 1st books.

Regardless, my feeling is this is making the selections more customer-friendly…

What do you think? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

14 Responses to “None of the top 10 bestselling USA Kindle store books are from the Big 5”

  1. Ross Rearick Says:

    First time poster, love the blog.

    I’m sure someone else will note that 5 of those top ten are Kindle First books for the month of January. I’m sure they are generating some pre-orders but I imagine most of their sales are the Prime members who are picking up one of them for free. I’d imagine that especially at the beginning of the month when Kindle First emails go out this really throws the numbers.

    It is definitely a way that Amazon is able to put it’s own published books on the top of the list for visibility and generate reviews, but I’m curious as to how many of the sales that are being tracked behind this algorithm actually involve money changing hands.


    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Ross!

      Good to have you here…and commenting!

      Well, interestingly, there are two categories of bestsellers in the Kindle store…one for paid and one for free. I would think that the Kindle First free selections don’t count in the paid category. I suppose Amazon might argue that paying for Prime means those are paid licenses, but they do say it is “free” in multiple places.

      It could actually be the pre-orders…tell you what, I’ll ask Amazon and see what they say. 🙂

      Part of Amazon’s strategy to become less dependent on the Big 5 is their own traditional publishing…that does seem to be working for them.

  2. Ross Rearick Says:

    Didn’t read all the way through to see your comment about Kindle 1st. Still love the blog though.

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I dropped KU this week. I had pretty much diminished the wish list of KU eligible books that interested me. I realized that I still had books out that I’d borrowed months ago and never read. Most of all, I’ve been having problems with books that I thought I had borrowed but later found out that through some error, I had purchased. The first time, I thought maybe I had somehow clicked a wrong button, but when it continue to happen, I realized there was a flaw somewhere in the system. If I had been more vigilant about checking all my invoices from Amazon, I could have gotten those books off my account, but I waited to late.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Interesting to hear that…thanks! I haven’t heard Amazon comment on the stickiness of KU; that’s clearly an important factor.

      I’ve never been charged for a book I tried to borrow. You might still want to check with Amazon and see if they’ll do anything. If it was a glitch, they might.

  4. Harold Delk Says:

    Very interesting post; I’ve never used the calculator before. Didn’t even know it existed. I’ve been trying to solve a perplexing problem and am stumped. I ran an Order Report on all of my purchases to date and opened the resulting .csv file into Excel to analyze my shopping stats. It does not list any Kindle ebooks or Audiobooks, but only paper books. I discovered this when I decided to extract those records to create a library list for quick lookup (Amazon’s listing is way too slow and clunky for my purpose). CS tried to help and escalated the ticket and also sent a ticket to Audiobooks. Both responded by telling me how to look up the book titles; neither addressed the question of how to download the data. Questions: Can it be done? Why is the data not furnished in the Order Report? Am I the only one in the Fifth Dimension wanting to crack the code?

  5. Man in the Middle Says:

    I’ve been expecting this result for years, so am just glad to see basic economics still working in our society eventually. The big 5 raising their minimum prices for Ebooks just as Kindle Unlimited and reasonably-priced ebooks direct from Amazon became available has had exactly the negative result for the big 5 that any economist would expect.

    I still buy an occasional ebook from the big 5, but usually now only when it’s on sale for less than $3 or something I really want in my permanent library.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      I’m with you in that I rarely buy a book for myself that costs what the Big 5 want me to normally pay for them. 😉 However, I rarely buy a book for myself at all now. 🙂 I get gifts and I read in KU…that’s the main thing.

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