“the best selling SCI-FI BOOKS of All Time”: are they in the Kindle store?

“the best selling SCI-FI BOOKS of All Time”: are they in the Kindle store?

One of the things EBOOK FRIENDLY does well is infographics.

The one in this post:


is no exception: it’s visually interesting and has intriguing textual information. Well, I don’t know that they really back up the claim that these are the “best selling” books in this category…and there are a lot of people who won’t agree that The Lord of the Rings is sci-fi (Forry Ackerman’s term for “science fiction”…at the time, intended to riff off “hi-fi” ((high fidelity sound)), just as “Wi-Fi” is today).

Let’s leave that aside for the moment. I think most geeks would recognize the significance of the books on this list, and I will likely add them all to The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project eventually (or perhaps collaborators will…I’m looking forward to having other people working on TMCGTT).

I was curious…how many of these are available in the USA Kindle store?

That used to be a big issue, certainly when the Kindle store opened back in late 2007 with fewer than 100,000 titles. Now, with more than four million titles, and a commitment to the market by all of the big publishers, Amazon is closer to their original vision of “every book ever published”…although still a long way away.

I’m going to take them in the same order they are in the infographic, although that doesn’t appear to be in order (ascending or descending) of most sales.

Stranger in a Strange Land (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Robert A. Heinlein
originally published in 1961
4.1 stars out of 5 | 1,286 customer reviews
$8.99 at time of writing

Triplanetary (The Lensman Series Book 1) (at AmazonSmile*)) NOTE: the infographic counts the whole Lensman series as one thing…the information in this listing is just for the first book, but other books are available
by E.E. “Doc” Smith
originally published in 1948
5 stars | 2 customer reviews
$0.99 at time of writing
Note: books 3,4,5, and 6 are available through Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

2001: A Space Odyssey (at AmazonSmile*)
by Arthur C. Clarke
originally published in 1968 (although an expansion of a story published in 1948)
4.6 stars | 680 reviews
$7.99 at time of writing

Fahrenheit 451 (not linked because the publisher blocks text-to-speech access)**
by Ray Bradbury
originally published in 1953
4.2 stars | 2,898 reviews
$11.99 at time of writing
Note that Bradbury was a hold-out on allowing e-book versions for some time, famously saying that e-books “…smelled like burned fuel”

Foundation (not linked because the publisher blocks text-to-speech access)** | NOTE: the infographic counts the whole Foundation series as one thing…the information in this listing is just for the first book, but other books are available. NOTE: for some reason, the infographic lists both the Foundation series and the Foundation trilogy…I’m only going to list it once
by Isaac Asimov
first story originally published in 1942, first published in book form in 1951 (as a collection, not an expansion as was the case with 2001)
4.3 stars | 1,747 reviews
$7.99 at time of writing

Those are the details on the first five listed. Here are the others, and if they are available:

  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (yes, and in KU)
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (yes)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert (yes)
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson (yes)
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (yes)
  • Gateway by Frederik  Pohl (no)
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (yes)
  • 1984 by George Orwell  (yes)
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (yes)
  • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A.  Heinlein (no)
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (no)
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (yes)
  • The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (yes)
  • A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (yes)
  • The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (yes)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (yes)
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under  the Sea (yes)
  • Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (yes)
  • Lord of the Rings  by J.R.R. Tolkien (yes)

I wanted to call out one more on the list out separately, because it happens to be one of the

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Childhood’s End (at AmazonSmile*) by Arthur C. Clarke

for $1.99

Oh, and it’s available through Kindle Unlimited, too! 🙂

So, what stands out to me here?

Almost all of them are available in the Kindle store. Why would any of them not be? Before about 2005, e-book rights were not commonly negotiated when licensing publishing rights. That means that a publisher would have to go back to the author (or the author’s estate) to negotiate afresh. Each of the three books would likely have a market, but negotiations can be complicated. When I add books to TMCGTT, I link to the search for them in Worldcat (which searches public libraries, so people can see if they can get them there).

A few of the books are available in Kindle Unlimited, meaning that members of Amazon’s subser (subscription service) can read them at no additional cost.

I was  disappointed to see that in some cases, the publishers had blocked text-to-speech access. I find it particularly ironic with Fahrenheit 451…it does make a book less accessible, at least in a convenient manner.

I think  some people will be surprised by the prices…we’ve had discussions here before about whether an older book should be priced lower than a current book.

Overall, whether these are actually the bestselling books or not (by the way, the weird capitalization is the way that EBOOK FRIENDLY did it), I think it’s a good list with some great books on it.

What do you think? Is this a good list? Are there books you are still waiting to be Kindleized? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

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.




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