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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

On Amazon Sales Rankings

We've had a lot of customers from our wholesale site call us and ask about Amazon sales rankings recently. I did some informal research on this "tool" last year and wanted to share what I found. The most important thing, which most booksellers already know, is to purchase books based on title and content. That is to say, AZ sales rank should be an peripheral factor at best. The problem with referencing a book's sales ranking on one random day is that it does not take into account cyclical or seasonal bounces. For example, we sell many academic books. Some of these titles sell every January without fail (someone obviously has an annual Spring class using the book), but remain dormant for the rest of the year killing its sales rank. Another example is a book we previewed with a sales rank of 1.5 million+. I am all about researching trends and news bits so I had a hunch this book would begin selling again despite its low ranking. Indeed when a piece of news with similar content became "the big story", sales of that book rebounded. One solid way of using AZ sales ranking is to do so in conjunction with Jungle Scan. This free service allows you to track a book's ranking over time and may even have data already stored for that title (if someone else has requested it). Basically, my point is, weigh Amazon Sales Rankings lightly - rely on your own expertise above all.