Amazon’s “2016 Top-Selling New Releases”

Amazon’s “2016 Top-Selling New Releases”

I recently asked a question in a meeting at work about “aggregate curation”, and I could tell the speaker didn’t quite get it. 🙂

We were talking about interaction with the public online. It’s fascinating to me that many people seem to think that the “Wisdom of the Crowd” is going to be superior to the experts. When I’ve helped people on the Amazon forums, they may ask something like, “Does anyone know how…?” The answer is quite often, “Yes. Contact Amazon.”

I think Amazon makes it quite obvious about how to contact them. There is, for example, a Help link at the top of every page in the Kindle store.

Still, some people think the crowd, people like them, are a better bet to answer questions than the company itself.

I would guess that a lot of that is the general suspicion of authority. After all, Amazon clearly has a motivation to have people make purchases, so mightn’t they be more likely to recommend replacing a device than someone who has no financial stake in your decision? Sure…although I would argue that Amazon has a bigger interest in keeping you as a happy customer (their most important “product”) than making an individual sale.

I see this in a lot of things…some people would rather go with “People with your medical condition opted for this treatment most often” than what their doctors suggest.

That’s not to say that I’m not interested in what the aggregate of Amazon customers think! I do look at customer reviews at Amazon, and I have considered items more strongly when Amazon told me either that people who bought one product also bought another, or that people who had visited this page most often bought this other product.

This time of year, there are a lot of “Best of” books listed being released. Quite often, that’s a single reviewer making recommendations.

Amazon has things like that…but they also have released their

Best-Selling New Releases list (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

In terms of the list itself, they haven’t separated out Kindle sales this year…and those might be quite different. Amazon says:

“List counts only first editions published in 2016 and includes paid units in print and Kindle”

“Paid units” presumably means that borrows don’t count…meaning that

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

might not affect it. Not sure on that, though.

The top overall are “frontlist” books, generally from brand name authors. The top five are:

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne
  2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  3. The Whistler by John Grisham
  4. The Last Mile by David Baldacci
  5. Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard

Interestingly, that puts two non-fiction books in the top five (#2 and #5).

They also have top twenty lists for Kids & Young Adults, Most Wished For, and Most Gifted.

I also find it intriguing that Most Wished For and Most Gifted aren’t a one for one correspondence. 😉 Obviously, book gifters don’t always give people what they want. That could be because they don’t know (Amazon does have a pretty easy Wish List program you can share with specific people), or they want to get them something different (some givers love to surprise people, or want to illuminate new pathways). It may also be because people use the Wish Lists as a way to manage their own shopping (or just for general reference), and those books aren’t really what they want for gifts.

Something that stands out to me on that page: open obscenities (sh*tty, bullsh*t). Since these are hypothetically facts about what is most wished for or gifted, they have to list them…but I’m surprised there isn’t a family/work friendly version of the page. Ordinarily, I don’t think you’d expect to be looking at a list of very popular books to purchase online at work and run afoul of HR. 😉

Amazon does have a regular place where you can see best-selling Kindle e-books (for the USA) for the year so far…and, for that matter, for previous years:

Amazon Best Sellers of 2016 (So Far) (at AmazonSmile*)

That list is quite different, and part of that is that they use different parameters. The “so far” list includes books released in previous years…sometimes decades earlier.

I would guess that all of the top 20 for the year Amazon listed appear on the top 100 “so far” list. One thing that does stand out, though, is that there are cheaper and independently published books on the “so far” list. The number 2 is a ninety-nine cent title from “Bookouture”, The Girl in the Ice: A gripping serial killer thriller (Detective Erika Foster Book 1) by Robert Bryndza. There are also almost 7,000 customer reviews for The Girl in the Ice at time of writing.

“Best-selling” is one example of aggregate curation. It’s not something that experts think, or something that even an individual reader would put together as a “best” list. People certainly buy books that they don’t think were the best books of the year…or that they even liked all that much. 😉

I’m planning to do some writing before the end of the year, as I usually do, looking back at the year (and looking ahead). I don’t want to promise too much, but I am taking an extra PTO (Paid Time Off) day for writing after our adult kid visits for almost a week (during the visit, I may write less than usual…we’ll see). I’m considering a couple of ways to surface the “wisdom of the crowd” for ILMK readers…

Thanks to Amazon for the press release on this list! One thing they noted there: more than half of the top 20 books are part of a series…people like series in movies and books (and TV, of course). 🙂

Any thoughts on the bestsellers list? 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!

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

This post was improved through a comment from Edward Boyhan.

* 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.

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5 Responses to “Amazon’s “2016 Top-Selling New Releases””

  1. Phink Says:

    The paragraph about Amazon wanting to keep us happy as customers over a one time sale was interesting.

    I work in a big box retailer that has over 1,500 stores. In my store most of us care more about long term success with a customer than getting a quick sale in the moment that the customer will regret as soon as they get home. I am a strong believer in ‘getting the customer what they want and what they need instead of an item they don’t need because the profit on it is $20 more.’ If they are happy and you build a relationship with them that is far more important and profitable long term than a quick sale now.

    I have told many customers “If I were you I’d check the Acme Gadget Company. I think they may have more in line with what you are looking for.” Yes, there have been times I could have talked them into something but long term that could hurt the company plus it’s not good for my fellow man.

    God did not give me many talents but he did give me the talent of relating to people and an outgoing personality. I have a couple that comes 25 miles away almost every Sunday just to eat in our city and then to my store to talk to me a little bit. They never buy anything but someday they’ll need something remodeled and they will think of my store first. Another customer with tears in his eyes gave me a small hand carved duck and said “I recently lost my wife and you were always so nice to us that I wanted you to have this. She carved this herself.” It sits on a shelf in the living room today. Those type of things do not happen overnight and have potential to be very profitable down the road. Plus, it makes me feel good to know I helped a customer get what they needed for their home instead of what we needed to get rid of that day because it has gone non stock.

    Of course when I truly think a customer would be happier with a $300 item rather than the $200 one they have picked out I have to tread carefully because human nature is to think “he’s just trying to sell me something more expensive.” Believe me that is not true but we are so used to salesmen being salesmen rather than true advisers to the customer that no wonder they think that. I have heard a few times “that sounds like a sales pitch to me.”

    Just my thoughts. Amazon needs customers to be happy long term much more than they need to sell them an item for a quick profit today.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      I agree with your insights: I think I would have been more than satisfied to have you working in one of my stores. 🙂

      When I talk about Amazon having happy customers as a “product”, I mean that they “sell” them to other companies. That doesn’t mean they give away any information (Amazon has famously fought for customers’ privacy). It means that companies want access to Amazon’s customers, because those customers tend to be happy and spend more because of it.

      They absolutely also want to keep us happy for them, of course, but it’s this attraction to third parties that I think they will really leverage in the future. One clear example: Alexa users.

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I know Amazon makes it easy to contact them, but I prefer to ask the “crowd” or you because I find it can be frustratingly difficult to communicate with the people at Amazon who contact me back. They are obviously reading from a script because they will tell you to do things that you’ve already told them you have done and they do not adapt well to questions or comments that deviate from the script. Their ability to communicate in English is often limited and made worse by difficult to understand accents. My most recent run around with Amazon Customer Service required me to contact Amazon a second, third and fourth time and hope the next person would not only finally understand the problem but understand how to fix the mistake the previous people made. It should not take 4 phone calls to find a way for a friend without a printer to return a defective gift item.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I do hear that from customers from time to time, but it’s odd, that hasn’t really been my experience. I don’t think it’s because they know who I am, by the way. 🙂 I doubt there is a list of bloggers on the desk of every customer service representative. 🙂 I suspect there may be an impact with when you call…I’m on the West Coast, same timezone as Amazon…it’s possible I tend to get the “A Team” when I call.

      I agree with you: returning something shouldn’t take two calls.

  3. Kindle customer support number Says:

    I concur with your bits of knowledge: I think I would have been more than fulfilled to make them work in one of my stores. God did not give me numerous abilities but rather he gave me the ability of identifying with individuals and a cordial identity. I have a couple that comes 25 miles away practically every Sunday just to eat in our city and afterward to my store to converse with me a tad bit.

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