November 28, 2006

We’ve all heard about authors obsessed with the rankings of their books — some who go as far as temporarily manipulating the rankings by buying copies of their own books in bulk. But non-authors are often interested in book rankings, too (or else we wouldn’t have so many kinds of bestseller lists).

The standard Amazon rankings that are updated hourly are interesting, but not very useful. (Below you will find some links that have more information — including critiques — about the rankings themselves.)

I want to tell you today about, a site I have been using to track books I am interested in. It takes Amazon’s rankings and tracks them over a longer period of time. Think of it as way to go beyond the bestsellers, to the slow sellers and the barely sellers. Here’s the description, from the site:

TitleZ provides:
  • Data: Instantly retrieve historic and current sales rankings from Amazon and create printable reports with 7-, 30-, 90-day and lifetime averages
  • Trends: Easily see how topics or titles perform over time; measure the competition; understand what’s hot
  • Insight: Improve decision-making; know what to publish and when

I use it to keep an eye on a dozen books or so, constantly adding and removing titles. It also has a handy feature that lets you pick a few titles and do direct comparisons of the sales, say, the previous week or month.
The company has a detailed description of how it can benefit various categories of users (publishers, authors, journalists, etc).

The service is free during the current beta testing period. I am not sure when that runs out, but depending on what they charge, I would consider paying for it.

Yes, this still has many of the underlying problems of the Amazon rankings themselves, but is a good example of how existing information and data can be used in new and interesting ways.

Some resources on Amazon rankings:

UPDATE: Reader Karen Shanley, author of Dogs of Dreamtime, writes with another suggestion:

TicTap is a similar site that offers even
more goodies. It’s a free service, and
there are no plans to change that. Not only can you compare
books, and track any individual book over a range of time, but you can
type in a Zip Code to see how the book is selling in that area.
It’s not just for books, though any author or book tracker will find it useful. You can even access it on any mobile device.

YOUR TURN: Tell us what you think of TitleZ, TicTap or the Amazon rankings. Please post your feedback directly onto this column’s feedback page or e-mail me at

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Columbia Journalism ProfessorPoynter Visiting New Media ProfessorWNBC-TV Tech Reporterhttp://www.Sree.net
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