Digital Book World Debuts E-Book Best-Seller List

In What's the Buzz by Edward Nawotka

By Publishing Perspectives

Confused and bewildered by too many e-book best-seller lists that don’t seem to be connected to what actually seems to be selling?  Digital Book World has built its own E-Book Best Seller-List, powered exclusively by Iobyte Solutions, with the goal of giving publishers “a better view of what is actually happening in the e-book marketplace than they already had.”

The methodology used to create the list was designed to address some of the problems seen with current e-book best-sellers: One-hit wonders, the lack of differentiation between $0.99 e-books and $12.99 e-books, and no accounting for which publishers are actually selling the most e-books.

So instead, the list measures sales rankings over a week’s time to reward books that are on best-seller lists every day of a week versus just one day. The list also shows price, and has four separate lists that organize all the books into price categories. And, the list also shows the publisher, so that the industry can keep track of which publishers are selling the most e-books and how they’re doing it.

The basic methodology?

  1. Best-seller rank observed from five of six top retailers (Kindle, Nook, Google, Kobo, Sony).
  2. Lists observed for seven consecutive days (Sat.- Fri.)
  3. Each appearance on a list gets an unweighted score based on the ranking.
  4. Ranking scores are logarithmically determined (i.e., top scores are much more valuable than lower scores).
  5. Each retailer weighted by approximate market share as determined by the editors of Digital Book World and Iobyte Solutions.
  6. Additional appearance credit is awarded for appearing on multiple lists.
  7. Combines scores for the week determine final score for each title.
  8. Titles are ranked by final scores and also grouped into sub-lists by price (four separate price-band lists:  $0 – $2.99; $3.00 – $7.99; $8.00 – $9.99; and $10.00 and above).
  9. Minimum price that appeared at any point during the week on any retailer is used to determine price band (assumption is that low price is an important driver of ranking).

“As a combined list of all the retailers,” said Dan Lubart, managing partner of Iobyte Solutions, it gives as unbiased a view as possible as to what people are really buying. By taking a weekly view, this list will smooth out the one-day sales spikes from the daily deals and reveal the true best-sellers.”

The list will be published on and delivered via the Monday edition of the Digital World Book daily e-newsletter. The debut list, for August 11-18th, included only three titles priced for less than three dollars, and only four from publishers other than the Big Six — the six largest publishers: Hachette, HarperCollins, MacMillan, Penguin, Random House and Simon & Schuster. Last week’s sales also reflected the continued demand for the Shades of Gray trilogy, although Book One has given way to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (Random House) in the No. 3 position.

Jeremy Greenfield, Digital Book World’s Editorial Director told Publishing Perspectives, “We believe that publishers, authors, and agents need to have more insight into what’s actually selling. The best-seller lists that are out there currently are more useful to consumers than to publishers. By considering price, we are showing publishers where the competition is in the markets that they focus on. And we believe that in the coming weeks and months that this bestseller list will give publishers clarity on what is actually selling in the market and ultimately help them make them better decisions, specifically on what books to publish and at what price.”

  • See the $10 and up list for the week ending 8/18 here
  • See the $8 to $10 list here
  • See the $3 to $8 list here
  • See the $0 to $3 list here
  • See the overall list here
About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.