Amazon has a new feature that they rolled out recently--Amazon Charts. The charts published weekly include the most read books on the site and the most sold. The question here is who benefits from this information, and is it enough?
Let's start with who I think doesn't get any benefit from these charts: readers. I just don't think that readers can gain much from this list (I also really don't think they get anything from NYT or USA Today bestseller lists either). At most, it encourages a reader to buy a book based on the popularity of it rather than the substance. Not all popular books are good, and not all good books are popular. It simply feeds a reader's ego: "Oh, I've read all those books that are popular this week. I must be an astute reader!" Nah.
Okay writers--it's your turn now. Amazon Charts can be beneficial to you, but only to a point. Knowing the difference between what's selling the most and what's being read can clue you into what genres are getting the most movement. However, because these charts take into consideration different formats (paperbacks sold can be tracked; paperbacks read cannot), it's not a full picture of what's going on. For example, my personal preference is to get a nice hardback copy of a book if I know I'll enjoy it. If I can get a great deal on an ebook ($2.99 or less) I'll take the risk to try something new. For Amazon Charts, one of these purchases would count, one would not. Writers can't really distinguish a reader's motive from the charts alone.
And while the charts can tell you something, it won't tell you everything. Specifically, it won't give you numbers. It doesn't include how many have been sold, downloaded, or how many pages read for any title. Those would be like gold to a writer. That would give a much better perspective on how these titles end up on the charts any given week.
So, reader or writer--will Amazon Charts have any impact on how you buy and read books?