Several friends mentioned reading the Hunger Games over the past few months. The movie opened last night. (No, I have little interest in either seeing the movie or reading the book. But then I was late to jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon plus have not yet jumped on the Twilght or Sookie Stackhouse bandwagons.) Presumably people were reading the book because of the movie. That should mean book sales increased, right?
So I went looking for information on sales.
My first mistake was thinking to look at best seller lists. The New York Times, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble lists all provide ranks. NYT bases its on numbers reported from various book stores. Amazon and B&N base theirs on their own sales. Ranks do not equate to sales volume. The difference between any two ranks could be 1 unit or 1,000. All three lists only provide rank. Only the NYT provides old lists. It would be really cool for Amazon or B&N to make available a chart showing the popularity over time. Though, because it is just rank, I could see some obsessive types worrying about dropping from #1 to #2 when sales stayed the same.
Strangely Amazon and B&N both ranked the Hunger Games paperback #1 with other editions and sequels also show up in the top 100. NYT did not have it. Depending on the kinds of stores used by the NYT, I could see this being true.
I did run across an interesting site called NovelRank. It purports to provide exactly what I want: sales numbers over time.
Then the numbers seemed absurdly small. Over the past year, Amazon sold less than 28,000 copies of the Hunger Games paperback? Hardbacks added another 10,000 and Kindle editions another 11,000? All combined less than 50,000 copies over the past year?
According to the NovelRank FAQ:
Are sales estimates 100% accurate? Book sales estimates are still estimates, and for books selling a low volume ( less than 100 copies a month for instance ) the estimates are most likely accurate within 1%. In the end, it is all based on sales rank changes rather than sales numbers, and NovelRank should not be used to dispute hard sales figures from publishers or Amazon.
Again, these are sales ranks used to imply unit sales volume. That could explain why the numbers seem too small.
Ah, well. Hopefully the information exists somewhere and my short adventure looking for it just needed a few more hours.