TitleZ * RankForest

Amazon rank trackers

Amazon sales ranks have become a surrogate for measuring actual sales online. When Amazon says a book ranks 2,000 it means it is the 2,000 besting selling book that hour; it doesn’t tell you how many were sold. In fact often a few copies sold can move a book’s rank, depending on time of day, week, or the rest of the world of books. (Use this chart to make a rough correlation between rank and copies sold if you really need to know.) Nonetheless, because these ranks are public (unlike bookstore sales) and easy to grab, they have become a great way for anyone to monitor how a book is selling. In the past it might take 6 months before sales of books were reported. Now authors and publishers with new books will check hourly to see if their rankings have been improved by a radio interview, or book review.

But you don’t need to be the author or publisher to have an interest in how a book is selling. Trendspotters long ago discovered that books are good canaries of ideas, and that monitoring clusters of books gives you a zeitgeist reading, very similar to Google’s Hot Trends, which monitors search terms over time. Also keep in mind you can track other things on Amazon besides books: CDs, games, software. You just need Amazon’s ID for each item.

While you can just check the Amazon page to see what a product’s ranking is, what you really want is something that constantly tracks an item and compiles the data into graphs, charts, and spreadsheets. There are several websites that do this. I previously recommended JungleScan, the original Amazon tracker, for a free way to track Amazon rankings. The site was abandoned last year (although its owner says he will revive up “someday.”)

-- KK 10/17/07

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