It has long been acknowledged that getting on a best-seller list has little value to authors; it won’t help you sell more books, and is really only useful for things like burnishing your professional credentials so you can earn higher speaker fees (this is why paying someone huge sums to get on to a best-seller list is a waste of money for the most part).
Now the Washington Post has shown us that even if you can make it on to a best-seller list, you might get kicked off again later. The Post published a notice on its site on Friday that informed us that the Post’s Amazon-derived best-seller lists had been wrong for over a year:
In February 2018, The Washington Post launched new lists of best-selling books. In an attempt to combine online and in-store sales, some of the new lists incorporated data from both NPD BookScan and Amazon. For the first three months, all the lists were published correctly. But in late May 2018, the software that merges the two data sets began to experience substantial, intermittent errors, rendering the lists inaccurate. Two causes have been identified. One was related to how the software ingested and combined data from the two sources. The other started in late December 2018, when a change in one data source led the software to begin inadvertently removing the top bestseller, causing the books to be listed in the wrong order and ignoring some sales from top-selling titles. These errors were caught in June 2019. All errors have been corrected and the lists have been republished online and labeled with corrections. The Post is now hand-checking every list before publication to ensure accuracy.
While one could have fun at their expense, that would be a bad idea karmically speaking because it magnifies one’s own errors.
Instead one should merely note that The Washington Post
Amazon has discredited its lists for all time. It’s not just that they had an error, but that they missed it for a year.
Who know what other errors have not yet been found?