Watch Your Rank
by Wendy J. Woudstra
Since 1998, when Amazon.com first started tracking the sales rank of all the titles in its database, the
online retailer's ranking system has been a topic of conversation in the book industry. The top 10,000 best
sellers at Amazon are updated hourly, the next 100,000 are updated daily, and the rest of the list is updated
What exactly the ranks mean in real sales is unclear, but some people have attempted to work it out through
guesswork and analysis.
Dan Poynter estimates that a book would need to sell about 38 copies a day through Amazon's bookstore to
sneak into 100th place. Morris Rosenthal of Foner
Books has a less optimistic view, guessing that sales of at least 100 copies per day would be required
to reach that mark, and if you were aiming for the number one position, you'd need to sell 3,000 copies per
day through Amazon.com.
No matter what your Amazon rank, you can track any book's movement up and down the massive bestseller list at
AmazonScan.com, a site brought to you by Philip "Pud" Kaplan, the man behind F---edCompany.com and
Postget.com. Once registered with at AmazonScan, you can set up a portfolio to track the numbers on your
Amazon listings in the same manner as you would track your stock portfolio.
Even if you don't register, you can add books to AmazonScan's tracking system, take a look at the
day's winners and losers (which items have increased or decreased most in rank), and amuse yourself by
checking out the list of the lowest ranked items available at Amazon.com. As I write this, the lowest ranked
book is entitled Corals and stromatoporoids
from the Ordovician and Silurian of Kronprins Christian Land, Northeast Greenland by Colin Thomas
Scrutton - clearly a book with a limited market - which boasts a rank of 2,239,419.
Update - since I first uploaded this article, a number of people have brought a different ranking
tracker to my attention. For two years now,
Charlie Fleishman of Books & Writers has been offering a rank monitoring service that will notify you via
email as often as hourly, daily, or weekly with your current rank at both Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
Check it out at http://www.booksandwriters.com/rank.html.
by Wendy Woudstra