Friday, April 27, 2012

Do You Want To Be Number One?


We all want to be number one, or even 100th, including authors it seems. There are so many best selling lists, but of course most of them only note the top ten or twenty and only so many can be in the top ten or twenty. Like...ahhhh..ten or twenty. But there is another ranking, a much bigger ranking and that is the All Powerful Amazon's ranking. It seems that since Amazon instituted the system 10+ years, it has become quite an obsession among both authors and their publishers and discussed in this NY Times article. It seems that some authors become a bit obsessed with their ranking, checking every day to see if they have moved from 1800th to 1700th place. And of course, as with every system someone come up with, it doesn't take long for someone to figure out how to 'game' the system.
For most books, it does not take many orders to increase rankings. Knowing this, authors, publishers, even nonprofit organizations like MoveOn.org will send out e-mail blasts asking people to buy a book at a set time, or buy up copies themselves. Some authors get their friends to write reviews or even write a positive review for a rival book and mention their own title.
Oh, that is one of my pet peeves. Sometimes, I am looking at books on Amazon, maybe a book recommended because of another book I bought. There is a book, maybe one with only a small number of reviews, but an oddly large number in the 5 star category. So, I look at the review authors.
Is this the only book they have reviewed? And, of course, it is the very best book they have ever, ever read! Thanks mom and sis and college roommate!
I usually leave a comment for others to take this one with a grain of salt perhaps.

Also, there is some real mystery as to how the system even works. Seems there is some secret to it all. I am shocked...not.Sily me, I thought it was just like..the book that sold the most copies. But it seems not...
Neither Amazon nor Barnes & Noble will divulge the algorithms they use for rankings. What Amazon will say is that sales rankings are updated hourly for millions of items. The sales history counts, but recent sales are weighted more heavily.
I think I have clearly voiced my disinterest before in these best selling lists and such. Oh, they are fun to look at, but when it comes to buying or reading, give me a good review or recommendation from someone I trust any day. In fact, if something is very, very popular (in the past, insert any Oprah pick here), that is a bit of a red flag for me. I can't say that I believe I have ever read a book just because it was on one of these list...and I know that I have NEVER bought a book on Amazon because of it's ranking. So authors, don't be distracted and besides, they are probably 'fixed' somehow anyhoo. Just write really good, entertaining stuff and then get some great reviews out there. Personally, I think it is worth a lot more than some questionable ranking somewhere.

Really my dear readers, I am curious. Have you ever based a buying/reading decision on an Amazon ranking?




13 comments:

  1. ABSOLUTELY NOT! I pay no attention to the NY Times Bestseller lists, or anything resembling that. In fact, the highest ranked books are usually an indication of what I DON'T want. There you will find the Dan Brown and the Nicholas Sparks of the literary world. No thanks.

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    1. Oh, don't get me on a Dan Brown rant...I still do not understand his success..totally beyond me.

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  2. nope.. and I rarely go to Amazon ... long story; short version is I wont shop there unless it truly is the last place on the internets I can find something I have to have or I will die .. and I know it will never come to that .. and wont you please turn off the nasty WV .. please

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  3. NEVER... I know the genres I enjoy reading, just as I think you do also. So what is No. ! in there ranking is hardly ever something I would read. I do look over reviews of books I may be interested in to see what the others thought of the books, but, never The New York Times reviews.

    @Sandy, I have totally given up on Sparks, his last two books were a big disappointment and I vowed never to buy one of his books again. Never read Brown, his books never appealed to me.

    Happy Reading everyone!!

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    1. oh my, now we have Sparks mentioned again...I feel a rant coming on...lol

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    2. You are right there, don't even get me started on Sparks... ; )

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  4. No, I buy what sounds interesting to me, no matter the ranking. I just bought ten books last week and most of them have a rating of 3 stars on Amazon. But...they sound like books I'd love!

    I loved Nicholas Sparks "The Notebook", but haven't loved anything from Dan Brown.

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    1. 10 books? ..I thought I was bad...lol

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  5. Not me. If you look closely at the reviews, sometimes people give negative reviews because the item shipped late or got damage in transit or something like that.

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  6. I will look at reviews but only if there are a lot of reviews to balance out the obvious "friends loving their friends books." They are pretty obvious when you see them. I've learned not to trust all the hype about a book. I tend to not like it as much -- either out of "spite" or that my expecations were too high. Still, if a book has a 100s of reviews, I think the ratings can tell you something.

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  7. As an indie publisher, I do check our Amazon rankings on a daily basis since I tend to fall on the dollars and cents side of the equation. But in determining whether I would buy/read a book, I tend to go by positive word of mouth recommendations than anything else.

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    1. Finally, someone who admits 'using' those rankings. if not for personal use.
      As to the reviews, I do admit reading them, or at least looking at the spread..hundreds of reviews, with very few negatives, give you an idea..but just an idea.

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