A Big Surprise in Amazon’s 2012 Best-Sellers List

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!

Amazon Announces 2012’s Best-Selling Kindle eBooks!

The number 2012

As December finally approaches the end of 2012, Amazon’s honoring their annual tradition of revealing which books were their best-sellers for the entire year. And this year is especially interesting, because some of Amazon’s best-sellers are books that people wouldn’t necessarily admit they were reading — like the trashy erotica novel “Fifty Shades of Grade.” It’s a fun way to see what books Amazon’s customers are really reading. But it also provides clues about whether they’re reading them in print format, or on their Kindle!

To see Amazon’s list of their
top 100 best-selling Kindle ebooks of 2012,
point your browser to
tinyurl.com/Top2012eBooks

Amazon’s best-selling book for 2012 — in both formats — wasn’t 50 Shades of Gray — it was the third book in that trilogy (called Fifty Shades Freed). In fact, a box set of the whole trilogy also became the #2 best-selling print book of the year at Amazon. That boxed set also turned out to be the #4 best-selling Kindle ebook of the year, which allowed it to also claim the #3 spot on Amazon’s “overall” list which combines sales in both print and ebook format. (To celebrate, Amazon’s currently discounting the print edition of both of those books by more than 40%.)

But this led me to noticing something strange about Amazon’s list of the best-selling Kindle ebooks of 2012. It’s nearly identical to Amazon’s “combined” list that calculates which books sold the most total copies, counting sales in both their print and ebook formats. The Kindle ebooks are in a slightly different order on their list of the top 10 best-sellers for 2012, but there’s not one single ebook on that list which didn’t also become one of Amazon’s ten best-selling books on the “combined sales” list when you also added in their print sales.

Amazon’s 2012 Best-Selling Kindle Ebooks

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

2. Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

3. Bared to You: A Crossfire Novel by Sylvia Day

4. Fifty Shades Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E. L. James

5. The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire) by Jennifer Probst

6. Reflected in You: A Crossfire Novel by Sylvia Day

7. The Racketeer by John Grisham

8. Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay

9. The Innocent by David Baldacci

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


Amazon’s 2012 Best-Sellers (Kindle and Print Books Combined)

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

2. Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

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

4. Bared to You: A Crossfire Novel by Sylvia Day

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

6. The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire) by Jennifer Probst

7. Reflected in You: A Crossfire Novel by Sylvia Day

8. The Racketeer by John Grisham

9. Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay

10. The Innocent by David Baldacci


The moral of this story is unmistakeable. If you wanted to be one of Amazon’s 10 best-selling authors in 2012, you had to become one of their best-selling authors for people reading ebooks on their Kindle!