Three Surprising Books Were Among Amazon's 10 Best-Sellers of 2012

On New Year’s Eve, I wrote about how Amazon’s 10 best-selling ebooks of the year were also their best-sellers when combining both print and ebook sales. But there was an even bigger surprise if you looked at Amazon’s list of the best-selling print books of 2012…

Amazon’s 2012 Best-Selling Print Books

1. Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three of the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E. L. James

2. Fifty Shades Trilogy: Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed 3-volume Boxed Set by E. L. James

3. No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen

4. Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

5. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

7. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

8. The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now! by Mark Hyman M.D.

9. The Amateur by Edward Klein

10. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

There, six of the ten best-sellers are books which didn’t even appear among the top 10 best-selling ebooks of 2012. (Which, yes, means they also didn’t appear on Amazon’s “combined” list of the 10 overall best-sellers when combining print and ebook sales). Fifty Shades of Grey books still held the #1 and #2 spots, and the #4 best-selling print book was Gone Girl, which was the #2 best-selling Kindle ebook (and also #2 on Amazon’s “combined” list). But there was only one other book which all three lists had in common — No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden” by Mark Owen. Six other books reached the top 10 on Amazon’s list of the best-selling print books of 2012 — without ever reaching the top 10 in Kindle ebook sales (or on Amazon’s “combined” list of print-plus-ebook best-sellers).

Take another look at those six best-selling print books.

5. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly Martin Dugard

6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

7. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

8. The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now! by Mark Hyman M.D.

9. The Amateur by Edward Klein

10. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

These books didn’t just fail to make it into Amazon’s list of the top 10 best-selling Kindle ebooks of 2012. None of them even made it into the top 20! Amazon’s #5 best-selling print book of 2012 (Killing Kennedy) was only the #39 best-selling Kindle ebook. Amazon’s #6 best-selling print book of 2012 (The Power of Habit) was only the #42 best-selling Kindle ebook. Even The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling’s first book since the Harry Potter trilogy, only reached the #24 spot on the Kindle best-seller’s list for 2012, though it was #7 on the print best-sellers list. And the #9 best-selling print book — an “expose” about Barack Obama called The Amateur — only reached #45 on Amazon’s list of the best-selling Kindle ebooks of the year.

I thought there was something poetic about the fact that the last book on Amazon’s list of the top 10 best-selling print books was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. But it got lost in the noise of the Kindle Store, apparently, since it only rose to the #81 spot on Amazon’s list of the best-selling ebooks of 2012. And the biggest surprise of all was The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now. It was Amazon’s eighth most-popular print book for all of 2012 — and yet it doesn’t even appear on Amazon’s list of the 100 best-selling Kindle ebooks of 2012!

What can we learn from these numbers? There’s a small contingent of “print book readers” whose tastes are wildly different than those of Kindle ebook readers. “Maybe they’re all habit-bound introverts who all have low blood sugar,” I joked to my girlfriend. It’s not a question of the availability of the books in either format, since every one of those print books is also available in ebook format — and the opposite is also true.

I’ve always wondered what books were being read by those last few hold-outs — those people who refused to surrender to the rise of the ebook and the digital reading devices. And Amazon may have just provided the answer in their list of the best-selling print books of 2012!

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