What’s the Best-Selling Kindle eBook of 2013?

Safe Haven ebook cover

Amazon’s created a special web page reporting their best-selling Kindle ebooks of 2013 (so far). But what’s fascinating is how different that list is from Amazon’s other list of this year’s best-selling printed books. In fact, only two of the top 10 best-selling print books also appear on Amazon’s list of the best-selling Kindle ebooks.

Check out both lists at

The best-selling Kindle eBook of 2013 is Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks — a novel of love and intrigue by a best-selling fiction writer. Yet amazingly, it’s not even in the top 100 on Amazon’s list of the best-selling printed books! And the exact same thing is true for the #10 best-selling Kindle ebook of 2013. It’s Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel by Matthew Quick — and despite its massive sales as a Kindle ebook, it’s not even in the top 100 of Amazon’s list of print best-sellers. (Since both ebooks were recently made into movies, you might wonder if Kindle owners are more in tune with the fast-moving world of popular culture? Or maybe they’re just younger readers who go to the movies more often…)

Meanwhile, there’s more surprises on Amazon’s list of the best-selling printed book this year. It’s StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath — a non-fiction book that helps readers assess their personal talents and weaknesses. In fact, five non-fiction titles made the top 10 on Amazon’s list of the best-selling printed books of the year. How many non-fiction titles made Amazon’s list of the 10 best-selling Kindle ebooks of 2013?


Here’s Amazon’s list of their top 10 best-selling ebooks of 2013

   Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
   Inferno: A Novel by Dan Brown
   Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn
   Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
   The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
   The Hit by Will Robie
   Wait for Me by Elisabeth Naughton
   Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson
   Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
   The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel by Matthew Quick

And now here’s Amazon’s list of their top 10 best-selling
print books of 2013

   StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
   Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
   Inferno by Dan Brown
   Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
   Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander
   The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
   Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young
   The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
   The 5 Love Languages: The Secrets to Love That Lasts by Gary D. Chapman
   A Song of Ice and Fire, Books 1-4 by George R. R. Martin

So the two books that both lists had in common were both works of fiction — Inferno: A Novel by Dan Brown (the author of The Da Vinci Code) and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. But of course, Dan Brown’s books have always been phenomenally popular — and The Great Gatsby was released this year as a major movie picture. But then again, Safe Haven was also released as major motion picture in February, and became the #1 best-selling Kindle ebook of the year — while not even making it into the top 100 on Amazon’s list of the best-selling printed books!

So what’s going on? There’s another clue when you look at the ebooks which didn’t make it onto Amazon’s list of the top 10 best-selling printed books. For example…

   #4. Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

One of 2013’s best-selling ebooks came from a self-published author living in rural East Texas — a 33-year-old social worker who published her first novel just 18 months ago. Thanks to the power of viral marketing — and Amazon’s Kindle Store — Colleen Hoover was able to find an appreciative audience online, and her books are now also available in print. But the print world is still struggling to catch up, apparently, since none of the print editions of Colleen’s novels have even made it into the top 100 of Amazon’s best-selling print books of 2013.

Of course, two of the 10 print best-sellers aren’t available as Kindle ebooks.

   Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
   The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia

Maybe the lesson there is that some books just work better in print — like books with lavish illustrations and a complicated layout. But it’s interesting to note that all of the top 10 best-selling Kindle ebooks are also available in print editions. Is it possible that publishers now consider the ebook market to be the most important one?

Anyways, I’m finding it fascinating to compare the two lists. It’s like catching glimpses of two different universes, which exist side-by-side in this moment in time. And they offer hints about the way that we read — and how it’s starting to change…

Check out both lists at

Which eBooks Were Amazon’s Best-Sellers for 2011?

The Top 100 list

It’s really surprising. Amazon’s just announced which books (and which ebooks) were their best-sellers in 2011. And it turns out the two lists are entirely different!

To see Amazon’s lists, just point your computer’s web browser to tinyurl.com/2011Amazon – or browse both lists on a single page here. But just look at the the top ten ebooks of the year. Three of the 10 best-selling Kindle ebooks didn’t make into the top 100 bestselling printed books of the year — because they’ve never even been released in a printed edition! And that includes the #1 and #2 best-selling ebooks of the year…

      The Mill River Recluse (#1)
      The Abbey (#2)
      Caribbean Moon – A Manny Williams Thriller (#10)

And meanwhile, four of the top 10 best-selling printed books didn’t even make it into the top 100 best-selling ebooks of the year.

      Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
      Go the **** to Sleep
      A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
      Bossypants by Tina Fey

The “Wimpy Kid” book is only available for the Kindle as an audiobook, and “Go the **** To Sleep” is a parody of children’s picture books, so it’s understandable that more people would want the print edition. But the other titles are available in both ebook and print editions — and they seem to prove that Kindle owners just buy different books than the people shopping for print editions!

Look again at the the top ten ebooks of the year. Only three of them also appeared on the list of the ten-bestselling printed books.

      Steve Jobs

      A Stolen Life by Jaycee Lee Dugard

      In the Garden of Beasts:
      Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin

And even if you look at the whole top 25, there’s still only four more printed books which also made it onto Amazon’s list of the 25 best-selling ebooks.

      The Paris Wife: A Novel
      The Litigators by John Grisham
      The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
      Dead Reckoning: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel

It couldn’t be more clear that Kindle owners are choosing their material from an entirely different universe of books. Stephen King’s new novel, 11/22/63 — is the #11 best-selling printed book. But it didn’t even make it into the top 25 on Amazon’s list of the best-selling ebooks. (Maybe because its $14.99 price tag made it less competitive against other ebooks.) On the ebook list, King’s new novel only ranked #32,and ironically, it placed lower than another Stephen King tale — Mile 81 — an 80-page short story about a haunted highway rest stop that King released exclusively as a Kindle Single for just $2.99. Now at the end of the year, it’s become the #26 best-selling Kindle ebook.

The signs are everywhere that it’s an entirely different set of books which are becoming popular in print. In fact, even if you look at the top fifty best-sellers, there’s still only eight more ebooks which have also made it onto both lists.

      Explosive Eighteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel

      The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus Book 2)

      Inheritance (Inheritance Cycle, Book 4)

      The Throne of Fire (the Kane Chronicles, Book Two)

      Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that
      Changed America Forever
(co-authored by Bill O’Reilly)

      State of Wonder

      Smokin’ Seventeen: A Stephanie Plum Novel

      The Affair: A Reacher Novel

And nothing changes if you expand your focus to the top 100 best-selling books of the entire year. Even then, there’s just 24 more books that both lists have in common.

      Full Black: A Thriller (Scot Harvath)
      V is for Vengeance (Kinsey Millhone Mystery) by Sue Grafton
      The Land of Painted Caves: a Novel by Jean M. Auel
      The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel
      SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper
      The Night Circus
      Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe
      Against All Enemies by Tom Clancy
      The Marriage Plot: A Novel
      Caleb’s Crossing: A Novel
      Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
      The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris
      Now You See Her by James Patterson
      The Drop (Harry Bosch) by Michael Connelly
      A Discovery of Witches: A Novel
      Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson
      Before I Go To Sleep: A Novel
      The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly
      Zero Day
      Buried Prey
      The Next Always: Book One of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy
      Portrait of a Spy (Gabriel Allon)
      Tick Tock by James Patterson
      Shock Wave (Virgil Flowers)

That means that of the 100 best-selling ebooks of the year — 60 of them didn’t even appear among the top 100 best-selling printed books. And the same is true in reverse. Just 40 of the top 100 best-selling printed books even made it onto Amazon’s list of the top 100 best-selling ebooks.

What’s going on? Five of the best-selling ebooks were “Kindle Singles”, short “idea-sized” ebooks between 5,000 and 30,000 words, which aren’t available in print editions.

      Second Son (Kindle Single)

      Mile 81 (Kindle Single) by Stephen King

      No Time Left (Kindle Single)

      Leaving Home: Short Pieces (Kindle Single) by Jodi Picoult

      Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson,
      Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way (Kindle Single)

And at least five of the best-selling ebooks are by authors who earned their popularity in ebooks, like Amanda Hocking and John Locke. (Both authors sold over one million ebooks in Amazon’s Kindle Store before they received publishing deals this year to release their novels as printed books.) Amanda Hocking’s Ascend (A Trylle Novel) was the #14 best-selling ebook of the entire year, but it still won’t be released in a print edition until late April of 2012. And Locke’s Vegas Moon — the Kindle’s #25 best-selling ebook of the year — won’t even be available in print until the end of next July.

The #24 best-selling ebook is also another book in Locke’s “Donovan Creed” series — A Girl Like You — but there’s not even a release date listed on Amazon for an upcoming print edition. Two other Locke ebooks were also among the top 100 best-selling ebooks this year — The Love You Crave (another Donovan Creed novel) and Follow the Stone (an Emmett Love Western). But while those two books are also available in print editions, neither print edition reached the top 100 on Amazon’s year-end best-seller list.

Heather Killough-Walden also landed two ebooks in the top 100 from her “Big Bad Wolf” paranormal series — The Spell and The Strip. The first one is only available as an ebook, and second one isn’t even available as a printed book or an ebook. (Though Amazon shows plans for an audiobook to be released at the end of December.) And I was surprised to see a familiar name among the best-selling authors of the year. Kindle Blogger Michael Gallagher wrote one of the 100 best-selling ebooks of 2011 — titled Free Kindle Books and How to Find Them.

So what print books are readers buying that didn’t become also become Kindle best-sellers? There’s celebrity memoirs by Ellen Degeneres, Steven Tyler, and Chelsea Handler, plus a backstage look at ESPN — and several political books, including Dick Cheney’s autobiography, Ann Coulter’s Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America and After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. But print buyers also made a best-seller out of Neal Stephenson’s new novel Reamde, a techno-thriller about a multiplayer gaming universe which surprisingly didn’t appear among the 100 best-selling ebooks (though it’s been available since this September).

Amazon’s 2011 lists are sending us a very clear message: the world of publishing is changing. People who own Kindles are just reading different books than the people who buy printed books. But what’s really interesting is those books are being written by different authors.

2011 may be remembered as the year that hundreds of new voices finally found their audiences…

Amazon Announces Their Favorite New Kindle E-Books

Amazon's best e-books of 2011 list

Amazon obviously knows a lot about e-books, and they’ve just released their list of the best Kindle e-books of 2011… “so far”.

“This midyear retrospective highlights the best books released in 2011 between January and June,” Amazon explained in a press release. “Customers looking for great books to read this summer will find an eclectic list, from a faux memoir conceived as an introduction to a long-lost Shakespeare play to one of the most fantastic survival stories of World War II.”

I like the way they’ve filled their “best of 2011” page with several different lists — nearly a dozen — where Amazon’s selected the best books in different categories. There’s the best novels, the best biographies and memories, the best mystery and thriller e-books, and even the best books on business and investing. And they’ve also selected the best romance e-books of 2011 (so far) — and the best science fiction. Here’s links to all the different categories where Amazon’s chosen this year’s best e-books.

Biographies and Memoirs
Business and Investing
Mysteries and Thrillers
Science Fiction

So what books made the list? #1 is “Lost in Shangri-La,” a non-fiction best-seller which Amazon picked as their favorite e-book for May. (In 1945, 24 airline passengers crashed in a New Guinea jungle, and the three survivors are “caught between man-eating headhunters and enemy Japanese” as they seek sanctuary in tribe of superstitious natives.) And Tina Fey’s humorous autobiography “Bossypants” has also reached the #6 spot on Amazon’s “best of 2011” list. (Amazon called the memoir it “Short, messy, and impossibly funny.”) Here’s the complete top 10.

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips
Bossypants by Tina Fey
22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

But Amazon also noted that Fey’s book was part of surprising trend. “Perhaps surprisingly, half of our favorite books so far this year were written by debut authors.” There’s even a first novel by comedy writer/actor Albert Brooks (who wrote and directed the movie “Defending Your Life” and supplied the voice of the father in Pixar’s “Finding Nemo”). Surprisingly, it turns up on Amazon’s science fiction list — though there’s also a few political jabs about the way America approaches social security, healthcare, and preparedness for natural disasters. Its title? “2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America.”

This list-making is one of Amazon’s favorite activities, according to their Managing Editor of Books. “Our goal with Best of the Year So Far is to go beyond our personal favorites and identify books that transcend genre,” he said in a statement Monday. “The books on our Top 10 list are engrossing reads that you could give to anyone, no matter what their taste.”

Did Amazon get it right? Click here to explore their “best of” lists yourself!

New York Times Announces the Best-Selling Ebooks

The New York Times ebook best-seller list

It’s finally happened! I stayed up late Thursday night to watch a very historic moment. The New York Times finally published its first best-seller list which includes ebooks!

They’d spent two full years working on a system to track ebook sales, according to a November article in the Times. “It was clear that e-books were taking a greater and greater share of total sales,” a Times’ editor explained, ” and we wanted to be able to tell our readers which titles were selling and how they fit together with print sales.” In fact, some publishers predicted ebooks would become 25% of their sales within the next two to three years — saying that ebooks already represented 10% of their sales — so the Times really needed to change. “To give the fullest and most accurate possible snapshot of what books are being read at a given moment you have to include as many different formats as possible,” said an editor at the Times’ Book Review, “and e-books have really grown, there’s no question about it.”

But that’s an understatement — at least, judging by the lists, since there’s a remarkable pattern which suggests that ebooks have already become the industry standard. The Times reported the best-selling ebooks as well as the best-selling print books, and then also reported which books sold the most after combining both their print and ebook sales. But it turns out that two of those three lists were identical! Here’s the top five best-selling ebooks.

  1. TICK TOCK, by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  3. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Stieg Larsson
  5. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, by Sara Gruen

But when you calculate the top five overall best-sellers — adding in the print sales to the ebook sales — nothing changes. Adding the print sales had no effect on the ranking of what were the top five best-selling ebooks. (Or even the top seven best-selling ebooks, if you read the Times‘ extended list.)

  1. TICK TOCK, by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  3. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Stieg Larsson
  5. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, by Sara Gruen
  6. THE CONFESSION, by John Grisham
  7. CUTTING FOR STONE, by Abraham Verghese

And the pattern is the same for non-fiction ebooks — at least, for the first four titles on the list. Whether you do or don’t include print books, the rankings are exactly the same.

  1. UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand
  2. HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
  4. DECISION POINTS, by George W. Bush

The only major difference was in the #5 position, suggesting ebook readers have slightly different tastes. The fifth best-selling ebook was $#*! My Dad Says — whereas on the combined print and ebook list, it only reached the #11 spot. And it looks also like a Harlequin romance novel was able to crash its way into the #8 spot on the best-selling fiction list.

What does it all mean? I’ve heard it said that the world changes before we realize that it’s changed. So I’m wondering now if the ebook has already permanently altered the way that we read. In November the Times credited the Kindle (and the iPad) for increasing ebook sales — and noted that ebook sales actually tripled between 2009 and 2010. (“According to the Association of American Publishers, which receives sales data from publishers, e-book sales in the first nine months of 2010 were $304.6 million, up from $105.6 million from the same period in 2009, a nearly 190 percent increase.”) What’s interesting about Friday’s historic event is the Times’ is America’s single largest local newspaper, according to Wikipedia — and each month more than 30 million people visit the Times’ web site. The New York Times best-seller list has always been considered a definitive record of the best-selling books in the country.

And now that definitive list…is including ebooks.