“Bestsellers” — For an author and publisher, the New York Times Bestseller imprimatur is money in the bank. They proudly emblazon said status on the cover of the book, and the lucky wordsmith will forever bear the sobrequet of “New York Times Bestselling Author”.
In the publishing world, this is a big deal.
Other papers-of-record (The USA Today list, for example, which is not only longer but more inclusive and — on it’s face, at least — much more democratic) and even major retailers also maintain bestseller lists, but they’ll never be able to conjure the same magic as the New York Times. Something about old New York’s status as a publishing centre, and the 70 years that the NYT has published their charts, are what make their bestsellers ‘the’ bestsellers, but even Wikipedia can point you to older charts, and the controversy surrounding the term, and the different ways the term ‘bestselling’ is used depending on context, region, and even things like the format of the book and the venue in which it is sold.
Some reading and references for you:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32336521/ns/business-us_business/page/2/ “Secrets of the Amazon best-seller list”
Via Google Books, an excerpt from the New York Times Book Review on manipulation of the charts in 2000. Or you can read about how it was done in 1995. Or you can read about it on the Freakonomics blog, hosted by the New York Times.
(And I should note it was a recent post by Seth Godin, Payola, that prompted me to do this additional research.)
It’s all hokum and snake oil. Hell, any wonk with a blog and too much free time on his hands can compile a chart. [*ahem*]
Hi, my name is Matt. This is RocketBomber.com, and this is where I post a bestseller chart for manga.
I attepted a reckoning of all graphic novels last year (2009) and managed to keep it up for a couple of months, but in order to continue that I’d have to quit my job and do nothing but data entry, number-crunching, and database maintenance for a full 40-50 hours each week.
So I’m going back to my roots  and concentrating on manga, which really helps as it’s a fairly well defined subset of the larger problem, and also full of books I like (which keeps me engaged in an otherwise dull activity)
So what’s manga? Well, “I know it when I see it” and also most online retailers already use the category so with few exceptions, I just click a link. There are some books which many retailers lump in with the manga (and Amazon’s sorting scheme or search hueristics are just plain silly sometimes) so I often skip some books, currently including but not limited to Usagi Yojimbo, Scott Pilgrim, Avatar comics, Twilight comics, and the Odd Thomas graphic novels from Dean Koontz & Queenie Chan — Some of these are great books, just not manga.
Once a week, I visit each site to check their Graphic Novel categories, and I sort the search results by ‘bestselling’. The links above will pull up exactly that.
I then click through, page after page, and type the titles into a spreadsheet in the order that they are ranked on the sales site. [this is the hard part]
And once I have a full list, I assign points to the books depending on how highly they rank. Add up the points each title earns (and add on similar data from a half-dozen second-tier sales sites) to get a composite score, and there’s your ranking.
In concept, it’s that simple. If you’d like to go in depth into the process click here
Right now I use nine source sites
- Online Bookstores: Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Borders, Hastings, & Powell’s
- Plus Amazon’s Manga Category Listings & their Manga Hourly Bestsellers
- with some additional input from Buy.com & Deepdiscount.com
The bestsellers from each site are scored, compiled, and ranked in a Top 500, and the data is also used (occasionally with a smidge of extra math) to compile a Top 50 Series chart and rankings for new releases and preorders.
boilerplate © and CC:
Manga estimated online sales rankings compiled by Matt Blind for the benefit of the Manga Fan, Creator, and Publishing Communities and posted in the rankings category at RocketBomber.com. Derived from publicly available information; if you feel your intellectual property has been infringed upon then I’d advise you to chill, consult your lawyers again, maybe grow a thicker skin, and then also recognise that you’re getting a free, weekly link directly to your lovely offerings [right at the top of each archived chart, in case you missed it] on a blog that specifically caters to fans of the medium. Maybe you should be sending me money, or free manga, as opposed to getting your boxers/panties in a bunch over imaginary copyrights.
All data as posted released back for your re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike license (be free, little numbers, go frolic and prosper) with merely a humble request that you link to this blog rather than steal, and that any derivative works include an attribution and also remain free to all.
If you have questions, corrections, or concerns that should be addressed in the body of this post, please send an email to matt [at] rocketbomber [dot] com. Questions, corrections or concerns placed in the comments below will be addressed in a more casual manner after I’ve downed a few beers and am feeling saucy.