Amazon is not just a fast, efficient, ubiquitous online bookseller. For the last decade, it has also been a book maker. Last year Amazon Publishing put out 1,552 books across its 15 imprints. Its imprint AmazonCrossing translates more fiction than any other US publisher. Thirty-six of its authors have reached one million readers.
And though these authors aren’t counted by the all-mighty New York Times bestseller list, or frequently reviewed in the Guardian, they’re quietly ranking right along with household names like Jodi Picoult, Nicholas Sparks, and Lee Child on Amazon.com.
Bookstat, a sales tracking service that covers about 90% of US ebook retail, estimates that 9.5% of the ebooks sold in the US last year came from Amazon’s imprints, places readers may have never heard of. Among them are Thomas & Mercer, which publishes crime novels and thrillers, Lake Union, for “book club fiction,” and Montlake Romance. For the last two weeks, three of the top 20 bestselling fiction books on Amazon were from its own imprints. In a recent week, that was as high as six of the top 20:
Amazon’s bestseller data, like all bestseller lists, should be taken with a grain of salt. The methodology, as explained on its site, for Amazon’s most-sold weekly charts is this:
Amazon’s most sold charts rank books according to the number of copies sold and pre-ordered through Amazon.com, Audible.com, Amazon Books stores, and books read through digital subscription programs (once a customer has read a certain percentage—roughly the length of a free reading sample).
The fact that individual book sales are mixed in with subscription downloads could inflate certain titles: After all, readers are more trigger-happy with low-cost book downloads than they might be with forking over $12 for a book. Still, it’s clear that within Amazon’s own massively powerful retail universe, the company has found eager readers.
Correction: A previous version of this post said Amazon Publishing books are not at all reviewed in the Guardian. This has been corrected.