Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

New York Times to add ebook bestsellers’ list

by Rob - November 15th, 2010.
Filed under: ebooks.

The New York Times will be adding an ebook bestsellers’ list to its prestigous weekly book-review section, according to this article.

I think that’s wonderful. Services like BookScan (in the States) and BookNet (in Canada) have given us reliable pictures of paper book sales for several years now, but all we’ve had is hype about how well ebooks are doing.

In many areas — and especially in ebooks — Amazon has sadly made the notion of “bestseller” meaningless — there are so many hyperspecialized lists there, it’s easy to be in the top 100 SOMEWHERE. So real rankings for eb…ooks would be useful

Yes, I’m proud that my The Terminal Experiment in 1996, after it won the Nebula, made it to the Top 100 storewide of all titles for THE ENTIRE YEAR at And I’m proud that FlashForward spent over 60 days in the top 100 storewide at last year.

But I’ve also hit #1 on the technothriller bestsellers list at (for a couple of days, with Wake) and know that that’s pretty darn meaningless. Means I sold maybe 20 hardcovers in 48 hours — big whoop. ;)

But in ebooks, everyone claims to be a bestseller. Finally, we’ll have a reliable barometer, and that’s all to the good. I’m a huge ebook evangelist, but I’m an even huger believer in hard data.

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2 Responses to New York Times to add ebook bestsellers’ list

  1. I sometimes bemoan such tracking services, which have made possible the “publishing death spiral” — but of course this speaks to something of a sickness in the business model, and how the data is being used or applied, rather than standing as an argument against data.

    Hopefully as ebook sales increase and are tracked and the industry moves more fully into the electronic realm authors will be able to elide the “death spiral” since “ordering to net” doesn’t apply online.

  2. Hi Rob,

    Good to hear you consider an “ebook evangelist”. You might want to have your editor (or Amazon) take the time to proof-read the Kindle versions of your books.

    I bought (and immensely enjoyed) the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy for my Kindle. But very often, “typos” appear that detract from the reading experience. Take a look at the e-books and you’ll see what I mean. It’s also the kind of error that happens when OCR misrecognizes a sequence of characters (like in the book the word “hlm” appears where it should read “him”).

    It’s not unreadable but the misplaced word is puzzling enough to distract the reader for a bit, which messes with the pace of reading.

    I think this only happens with “older” titles, I saw this problem in the Quintaglios and Golden Fleece. OTOH, when I bought Watch for my Kindle (and received within minutes of the release date, sweet!) I had no problems of the sort, so I guess for these, the publisher used some other source for the text.

    Anyway, I’m all for ebooks!

    See ya!

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