The OF Blog: Some interesting sales figures for the books listed in the Amazon Best of 2010 for SF/Fantasy

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Some interesting sales figures for the books listed in the Amazon Best of 2010 for SF/Fantasy

As expected, I see there's some controversy about the "obscureness" of the books listed on the Amazon Best of 2010 for SF/Fantasy.  In one forum where I posted a copy of the list, there are some odd accusations tossed about regarding who got to decide what appeared on the list.  I've said my piece on that elsewhere, but what I really wanted to see was just how "obscure" these books were.  Taking a (very rough) split of anything below a ranking of #10,000 meaning that a book is still moving quite a few copies (especially if it had been more than a couple of months after the release date), that #10,001-#50,000 would indicate decent sales, that #50,001-#100,000 would mean only some books are shipping and that anything over #100,000 would be truly "obscure," here is what I found for the 10 books on that list (current as of 2:30 PM CST, November 7, 2010):

#1 - The Golden Age by Michal Ajvaz, translated by Andrew Oakland (Dalkey Archive Press) - Amazon Rank:  #9,731 in Books
#2 - How to Live in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu (Pantheon) - Amazon Rank:  #1,418 in Books
#3 - Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord (Small Beer Press) - Amazon Rank:  #62,465 in Books
#4 - The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman (Tor) - Amazon Rank:  #14,617 in Books
#5 - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit) - Amazon Rank:  #6,353 in Books
#6 - The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich (Two Dollar Radio) - Amazon Rank:  #15,920 in Books
#7 - The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer (St. Martin's Press) - Amazon Rank: 
#31,160 in Books
#8 - Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW) - Amazon Rank:  #67,542 in Books
#9 - The Fixed Stars by Brian Conn (Fiction Collective 2) - Amazon Rank:  #288,744 in Books
#10 - Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey (Eos) - Amazon Rank: 
#5,847 in Books

Of those books, Conn's and Jemisin's were released in February, Palmer's in March, Ajvaz in April, Okorafor in June, Lord in July, Yu and Krilanovich in September, and Kadrey and Gilman in October.  Usually there is some decline over time, so for Jemisin and Ajvaz to be doing strong numbers now indicates there is a strong support for them that is outlasting the typical 2-3 month initial window.  There may be a lesser wave for some of the others.  Only Conn's book falls solidly in the "obscure" rank in terms of online sales.

Sure, online sales may be skewed toward certain audiences, but let's compare that to some of the 2010 epic fantasies that have been released:

Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings - Amazon Rank:  #483 in Books (released August 31)

Brent Weeks, The Black Prism - Amazon Rank:  #4,363 in Books (released August 25)

Anthony Huso, The Last Page - Amazon Rank:  #177,870 in Books (released August 17)

Ken Scholes, Antiphon - Amazon Rank:  #129,047 in Books (released September 14)

Tad Williams, Shadowheart - Amazon Rank:  #4,228 in Books (to be released November 30)

Stephen Donaldson, Against All Things Ending - Amazon Rank:  #396 in Book (October 19)

Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, Towers of Midnight - Amazon Rank:  #5 in Books (November 2)

In this other list, I listed some of the books that I knew would be the bestsellers, along with a few books that have been praised on certain fantasy forums.  I did not list any 2010 MMPB releases due to the time period between the stories' initial releases.  What is interesting is that the megasellers that oddly enough have not received as much coverage on certain fora that I visit are the ones that are significantly higher than the Best of 2010 Editors' List above.  I added Huso and Scholes' books because I have heard some bloggers and forum commentators say that these authors are writing "quality" works.  What's surprising is that these authors have much lower numbers than the standard-issue volume X of series Y releases.  I had thought the Huso and Scholes would have rankings half to one-third of their actual numbers.

So what does this show?  Perhaps nothing more than publicity affects the numbers.  Certainly the Best of 2010 list as a whole is selling at a decent clip but will never be close to megaselling status.  But the books that aren't discussed that frequently on certain blogs and fora seem to be the best sellers, while what some might consider to be representative samples of "fine epic fantasy" being released this year are selling at a much lower rate than the authors in the Best of 2010 list, despite most of each subgroup being compromised of authors with three books or less.

Of course, statistics being what they are, these can be interpreted in multiple fashions.


James said...

I don't know about Huso, but Scholes has never really had a good run with sales. His situation strikes me as being similar to Daniel Abraham's, in that his books always seem to hit the remainder sites not long after being released (not in terms of quality, though). Same publisher (Tor), too... though I guess they did at least attempt to do something about the poor sales by switching over to a cover style more friendly towards the masses, which is more than they ever did for Abraham.

As for Huso, a quick search leads me to believe that despite a couple of bloggers championing the book, there's not a whole lot of discussion going on. At least in my case, I know my purchase of the book would be hindered by the completely unappealing synopsis provided on the site, but again, that may just be me.


As for the complaints, that is to be expected, especially if a source of some comes from the forum of a well known epic fantasy author--I know perfectly well that there are members there who read rather broadly, but I'm guessing that this list isn't going to land major appeal for most of the others.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I have to say though, and it's probably my excessive OCD getting in the way, but that animated squirrel is really annoying while reading this great blog. =(

Add to Technorati Favorites