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Digital Book World aims for a more accurate ebook bestseller list

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In the weeks that I’ve been putting together my ebook bestsellers breakdown, which examines the titles that are doing better in digital formats than in print and investigates how titles hit the bestseller list, one common key to success pops up over and over again: The power of a sale. A one-day Kindle Daily Deal can drive enough sales to propel a title onto the New York Times (s NYT) ebook bestseller list for just one week. And self-published authors’ low-priced titles are taking up more and more spots on both the weekly NYT list and the retailers’ daily bestseller lists.

This isn’t a completely accurate picture of the market, because a low-priced ebook that sells many copies is still not necessarily driving as much revenue as a higher-priced book a couple of spots lower down the list. In a new weekly bestseller list that launches today, book publishing website and community Digital Book World aims for a more accurate methodology by taking price into consideration.

“It is incredibly important for the fast emerging ebook marketplace to have clear, valid and authenticated data about both the dollar volume and unit volume of best sellers,” said David Nussbaum, chairman and CEO of Digital Book World’s parent company, publisher F+W Media. “Because it is still a very young business, the entire channel — authors, agents, publishers, and consumers — need clear and focused information about best sellers.”

The data for the list is provided by Dan Lubart of Iobyte Solutions, an IT strategy firm that has been examining the effects of price on ebook sales for awhile. Lubart was hired as HarperCollins’ SVP of sales analytics in December 2011, but his work with DBW is separate. Book publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin of the Idea Logical Company, Writers House president Simon Lipskar, Book Industry Study Group executive director Len Vlahos, and Bowker Market Research VP Kelly Gallagher also consulted on the list.

The list weights data from Kindle, Nook, Google (s GOOG), Kobo and Sony (s SNE). Retailers are weighted based on market share and the books are organized into separate price categories. (More on methodology here.) “As a combined list of all the retailers, it gives as unbiased a view as possible as to what people are really buying. By taking a weekly view, this list will smooth out the one-day sales spikes from the daily deals and reveal the true best-sellers,” said Lubart.

Here’s this week’s top-25 overall list (links for the price-banded categories are on the same page). DBW notes that big-six publishers and high price points dominate the list. “Scholastic, with its popular Hunger Games series, and Soho Press, a New York-based independent publisher, were the only two publishers outside of the six largest in the U.S. to break the top 25 on the list,” Digital Book World editor Jeremy Greenfield notes.

2 Responses to “Digital Book World aims for a more accurate ebook bestseller list”

  1. Michael Wallace

    It’s not exactly a “bestseller list” if it doesn’t show the books that have sold the most copies. Why not call it the “Highest Gross Revenue List?”

  2. Rusty Neff

    Ummmmm….why should a best seller list take into account how much revenue is being driven? If the best seller list is to show the most profitable books, it might still be a lower priced book. If it shows the most units sold, it will also show a lower priced book.

    Gaming the system to show higher priced books at teh top is a blatant attempt to “show” that Amazon is being a dirty dog, and that is what most of the publishing world seems focused on.

    Here’s a thought….the publishing world should focus on their readers.

    I am a fan of strong writing, even if certain works don’t achieve huge sales. But to tweak best seller lists to raise the profile of books that don’t sell as well seems dishonest at best.