Most days we focus on trying to make our own news and analysis as accurate, informed and comprehensive as possible and leave others reporting on the trade to their own approaches. But with a lot of attention on Amazon’s new Charts — too much, probably, since this is a new merchandising initiative for Amazon’s customers, on their site, tilted towards their house product and preferred formats — PW has made the same basic error two weeks in a row, so it’s worth making things clear for our readers at least.
The new weekly Charts are not “the company’s first move into tracking sales using the time frame used by almost all major bestseller lists” and it is not true that “what the e-commerce giant has lacked is a weekly list.” Amazon has posted and archived weekly bestsellers for nearly its entire history; check out, for example, their bestsellers from this week in 1996. (eBook lists appear to date back to the launch of Kindle in late 2007.) At PublishersMarketplace, we have databased their lists since the beginning of 2012, particularly for the value of their weekly ebook bestseller list. It would be fair to say that those weekly lists are little known and little publicized, but they have been there and continue (and at 100 positions, are more extensive than the new Charts as well).
It’s also not accurate that “The New York Times recently launched a combined print & e-book bestseller list.” The paper launched two combined lists, for fiction and nonfiction, in February 2011, at the same time that they started issuing ebook bestseller lists — and we have those databased as well. The recent revamp of their lists, in January 2017, eliminated the separate ebook charts, leaving the combined lists in place along with some of the print-only lists.
Prior to those changes, the NYT would effectively not consider Amazon Publishing titles for bestsellerdom because they did not track “e-books available exclusively from a single vendor,” and Amazon does not allow anyone else to sell their ebooks. The NYT dropped that condition earlier this year — though as we pointed out at the time, the bar remains high for any of Amazon Publishing’s titles to make a NYT list since ebook-only lists were eliminated. Also, at the NYT a sale is still only a sale, and not also a subscription “read,” “borrow” or a free promotional download.