Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Comparison of ECPA New Bestseller List
Viva la difference.
As a follow-up to yesterday's post, I found a way to compare the bestseller lists from ECPA and CBA that reflect sales of fiction in February. CBA's list of these sales (called their April list) is here. I took ECPA's fiction bestsellers from their March Top 50 list, as their current (April) fiction list shows sales for March, and I couldn't see a link to back fiction lists. Thirteen fiction titles showed up on ECPA's March Top 50 list, so these would be slots 1-13 on their fiction list for the same month. Here's the comparison of 1-13 on both lists:
1. Someday, Karen Kingsbury
2. Sabrina, Lori Wick
3. Summer, Karen Kingsbury
4. A Time to Dance, Karen Kingsbury
5. Sunrise, Karen Kingsbury
6. Shack, William Young
7. Between Sundays, Karen Kingsbury
8. Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers
9. Daughters of Inheritance, Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller
10. The Parting, Beverly Lewis
11. Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out, Neta Jackson
12. Just Beyond the Clouds, Karen Kingsbury
13. Quaker Summer, Lisa Samson
1. Someday, Karen Kingsbury
2. Shack, William Young
3. A Sister's Test, Wanda Brunstetter
4. Blessings, Kim Sawyer
5. Sabrina, Lori Wick
6. Summer, Karen Kingsbury
7. Quaker Summer, Lisa Samson
8. Last Days, Joel Rosenberg
9. A Time to Dance, Karen Kingsbury
10. The Copper Scroll, Joel Rosenberg
11. Ezekiel Option, Joel Rosenberg
12. Sunrise, Karen Kingsbury
13. Deadfall, Robert Liparulo
As you can see, Karen Kingsbury practically owns the CBA list, while numerous other authors show up on ECPA's. This difference is driven by ECPA's choice to only include books that appear in "at least 20% of reporting stores during at least one week of the reporting cycle," according to Michael Covington. His letter, posted yesterday, noted this is ECPA's strategic answer to their perception that the CBA list might be skewed toward a certain demographic and/or region. In other words, if one large regional chain that reports to CBA runs a promotion on a certain book or author, that data will figure heavily into the CBA list. (My extrapolation.) ECPA wanted to have a different kind of reporting--more across the board data.
My take on all this:
Well, if ya don't make one list, maybe you'll make the other. Two chances are always better than one, I suppose. Frankly, the difference in the two lists doesn't surprise me, because it reinforces what I've been suspicious of for some time--that certain big promotions drive the CBA list. And of course, who's promoted most heavily? The authors who are already at the top.
Still, the CBA list seems a better reporter of actual sales. You could argue--so what if one store chain skews the numbers? These still are selling numbers. But in the bigger picture, we have to remember that bestseller lists are a representation to the book industry at large of what's selling in the Christian market. If some books that are selling well are kept off the list because that month a particular group of authors are promoted by one store chain, does that equal a fair representation? Or does it mean that one chain tends to drive the list?
I have to believe that ECPA didn't create a new bestseller list because the organization has nothing better to do. They obviously have some real concerns about the present lists and are trying to address them.
The most exciting news from Michael's letter for me is that ECPA is working to create lists that would include Christian bookstore and general market sales. That would be the most fair representation of all. Michael has promised to keep me updated, and I'll pass the news along.