In a convincing post at The Bookseller, Scott Pack, publisher of The Friday Project, an imprint of HarperCollins, notes that the lack of e-book sales integration into the UK bestseller lists cases a “whole host of problems,” not the least of which is that it might undermine a books ability to hit the list. Until recently, e-book sales in the UK were relatively modest, but they are growing significantly. Accordingly, as Pack notes:
It means that the charts do not accurately reflect the reading choices of the nation. When we open our newspaper and see the various Top 10s we cannot be sure that these are the actual bestsellers. There might be a book further down the chart that has been selling well enough as an e-book to break in to the Top 10, but we wouldn’t know.
It also creates a dilemma for publishers of brand name authors. We all know how it works—that first week chart position is more important than almost anything else. Getting them to number one in the fiction chart is vital, especially if you have just poached them from a rival publisher. But if e-book sales don’t count, then every sale on that format is a sale that won’t help you get to number one. At the moment it would actually be in your best interests to suppress sales of the e-book to ensure a higher chart position.
Granted, bestseller lists — and how they are compiled — remain a form of industry voodoo.