Since my novel Shine Not Burn made it onto the Top 100 Best Seller list at Amazon, I've been watching my rankings like a hawk. And when I saw ‘hawk' I'm talking like one with a set of tiny bionic eyeballs in its itty bitty head. I'm refreshing every hour to catch the new and improved ranking, all damn day and night long. I think I only miss 4 hours while I sleep fitfully, and during those 4 hours, I have readers around the world checking for me. To say this is a big deal to me would be a colossal understatement. Obsess much? Why, yes. Yes, I do. Being on this list has been a big goal of mine for over a year now. I'm soaking up every minute of it because it could end at any second.
It's no surprise at all that when something went wacky over at Amazon, I noticed right away.
Now, before I go any farther down this road, I just want to say that this could be a glitch! It could be that the sky is not falling, Amazon is not making a change, and I'm getting my panties in a wad over nothing. But then again, maybe it's not a glitch. Only continue reading if you care to know my thoughts on possible changes at Amazon with the best seller lists.
First thing I saw: all the rankings on all the books on the best seller list disappeared. Poof! No more rankings for anyone.
Then, about twenty minutes later, rankings came back, but they were missing something. Instead of showing my ranking on the Top 100 Best Seller list for the Amazon book store, it only showed my ranking on the Top 100 Kindle Store. For the last few hours at least, this has not changed. I'm beginning to think it's permanent, hence this blog post.
Before I get into the details, here's a screen shot of the two different searches you can do as a reader: First, you can search on BOOKS (orange word, left column) > BOOKS (black word right column). Makes sense, right? I want to find a book, I click on … BOOKS. But you can also search by BOOKS (left column)> KINDLE BOOKS (right column). I own a Kindle, but most of the time I don't bother scrolling down to KINDLE BOOKS. I just click the first link: BOOKS. Once you click there, you can click on “BEST SELLERS” and see the Top 100 books on that list.
What does this mean?
Well, assuming it's a permanent change at Amazon, it means this to me:
First, now my books are no longer visible side-by-side with traditionally published books that are selling a lot of paperbacks. That's going to hurt my sales. It's going to hurt my visibility. It's going to hurt my chances of ever getting on the NY Times or USA Today best seller lists.
Why do I think this is the case? Because I believe the reason my book (and those of many other authors) were pulled off the main list (i.e., search by: BOOKS>BOOKS>BEST SELLERS … I'm calling this BBB) is because they were only selling in good quantities as ebooks, not paperbacks.
So before, my book was for example #64 on Amazon's BOOKS>BOOKS>BEST SELLERS [BBB] and #62 in the BOOKS>KINDLE BOOKS>BEST SELLERS [I'll call this: BKB] and showed just the BBB ranking on my book's product page (even though the book was present in both places, BBB and BKB.) Now, instead, it shows the book in the Kindle store (BKB) and it's only present in the Kindle store. I searched the whole BBB list and my book was no longer there. Anyone searching the overall BBB for best selling books will not see my book or other indie best sellers at all. Only if readers go to the BKB will they see those books selling well in ebook format.
That sucks. It sucks for my sales, and it sucks for the readers, because if they pick option number one, BBB, they are not truly seeing the best selling stories! They're just seeing the best selling story in a single format. Paperback. And if they don't realize they're being limited to seeing books that sell well in paperback, they'll miss a HUGE amount of books, mostly indie titles, that they might enjoy.
Second issue: Amazon is making a more clear distinction between paperbacks and ebooks.
I cannot fathom why they'd do this. Anyone using Amazon for even a minute or two will see that when they search for a book they might want, both format options are usually there right on the same page (ebook or paperback) just a hyperlink click away. Why distinguish at all? Why two separate stores/lists in the first place? I get that maybe Amazon was trying to make a clear division; if you want to only buy a paperback, you only want to see paperbacks. But don't readers want to see the best selling STORY and not just the best selling paperback story? The way ebooks are outselling paperbacks, you'll end up with a really skewed best seller list; it'll have only books that sell a ton of paperbacks. Those are traditionally-published books, not indie books.
I hope this is just a glitch.
I don't really see the point anymore in having two different stores, BBB and BKB. Why not just publish all the best sellers in one place and let the readers find out if it's in both formats or not once they get there? Or they could click a button to exclude books not available as paperbacks. Most books are available in both formats, and as time goes on, the few who aren't will be a smaller group. Certainly most best sellers are available in all formats. Not having paperback sales obviously doesn't hinder overall sales, since up until now, indies were either side-by-side with or outselling their traditionally-published peers' books being combined on the same list.
I don't know the answers yet, but I hope eventually this works out to the benefit of readers finding good stories. To me as a reader, it shouldn't matter whether the book sells well in one format over another. That's just distribution more than anything these days. It matters whether the story is good. No matter what Amazon does, I hope they make it easier for readers to find those good stories with minimal confusion and fuss.