Monday, November 15, 2010

New York Times Ebook Bestseller List Coming

Last week the NY Times announced it will begin publishing ebook bestseller lists for fiction and nonfiction early next year. Weekly data for the list will come from publishers, booksellers, online bookstores, and "other sources."

According to the article, the NYT has spent the past two years creating a system that "tracks and verifies ebook sales." Hmm. It's clear Kindle sales are by far the largest bulk of ebook sales at this time, so it would seem the Kindle bestseller list would largely drive the new NYT lists. However, Amazon doesn't like to share its data, so exactly how is the NYT going to get Kindle sales? Apparently from the publishers. Which would mean said publishers will need to be accurate and trustworthy in reporting their data. The NYT says it is "aggressively developing a means of processing and displaying the information necessary, and of verifying the data provided."

According to the Association of American Publishers, sales of ebooks this past September increased by 158 percent compared to the same period last year. In dollar terms, ebook sales for the month totaled $39.9 million.

If you watch the Kindle bestseller list, you certainly saw John Grisham's new novel, The Confession, sitting at #1 for days. (It's now at #2, pushed back by George W. Bush's Decision Points.) Grisham's publisher, Doubleday, simultaneously released the ebook and hardback versions. According to the Wall Street Journal, for the first week The Confession sold about 70,000 ebooks--one-third of the hardback sales. Given these ebook numbers, the simultaneous release seems like a no-brainer, but in fact many big book releases in the past have delayed the ebook versions, treating them more like paperbacks, which have been traditionally delayed. But diehard Kindle lovers fought back, often giving such books one-star rankings. With the success of Grisham's ebook, other publishers of mega-books are likely to take note.

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