Did the Kindle Skew Amazon’s Year-End Best-Seller List?

Covers of Amazon 2011 Best-Sellers

Amazon’s released one more fascinating year-end list about their top-selling books. It’s the ten titles which sold the most in 2011 if you combined both their print and their Kindle ebook sales.

 1. “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson
 2. “Bossypants” by Tina Fey
 3. “A Stolen Life” by Jaycee Dugard
 4. “The Mill River Recluse” by Darcie Chan
 5. “In the Garden of the Beasts” by Erik Larson
 6. “A Dance with Dragons” by George R.R. Martin
 7. “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain
 8. “The Litigators” by John Grisham
 9. “The Abbey” by Chris Culver
10. “Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle)” by Christopher Paolini

And this list proves again that ebooks are exerting a huge influence on Amazon’s total book sales. Even with no print sales whatsoever, two ebooks still crashed into the top 10 — The Mill River Recluse and The Abbey (in the #4 and #9 slots, respectively).

Amazon apparently isn’t displaying those results on their web site, but they’d announced the rankings in a special press release on Monday. “We’re really excited that Kindle Direct Publishing authors have taken two of the top spots this year for book sales overall,” added the Senior book editor at Amazon.com. “After the year of recommending books to our customers, it’s always fun to see what books really resonated with them. We chose ‘Steve Jobs’ as one of the Top 10 best books of the year, and even though it was published in October, the sales have been phenomenal in both formats.”

In fact, the biography about the founder of Apple became Amazon’s #1 best-seller for the entire year (both for print sales and for combined sales of print and ebooks). But it seems to be the exception, since for most books, their print sales exerted a much smaller influence on their final year-end rank. Just look at a new chart on the internet at tinyurl.com/2011ranks . For five more of the best-sellers, you can see “book” icons hovering much higher up on the graph — indicating its print sales earned a rank much further away from the top 10. (Besides the two ebook-only best-sellers, where book icons don’t even appear!)

For example, Tina Fey’s biography only ranked #7 among printed books. But it shot up five more ranks — to the #2 slot — if you included its ebook sales. What’s really interesting is that it didn’t even appear on Amazon’s list of the 100 best-selling ebooks of the year! It looks like Amazon sold so many ebooks in 2011 that there were lots of high-selling books, even beyond the first 100. (The same is also true for George R. R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons, which was the #5 best-selling printed book. It was also able to claim the #6 slot for combined sales even though its ebook sales didn’t even appear in the top 100.)

And eBooks also influenced the ranks of two books which had barely made it into the top 20 for printed books — The Paris Wife and John Grisham’s The Litigators. When you included their 2011 ebook sales — #4 and #8, respectively — both books rose into the top 10! Of course, the opposite is also true. Inheritance only reached the #37 spot on the ebook best-seller list for the year. But in print, it was the #3 best-seller, which gave it the #10 spot on the best-seller list for both formats.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the world of book publishing really is starting to change. If you wanted to make Amazon’s list of the ten best-selling books of 2011 — you had to sell some ebooks to Kindle owners!

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