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NYTimes Launches Audiobook Best-Seller List

The New York Times is launching an audiobook best-seller list on Thursday.

The lists, which combine digital and physical audio sales, will debut online on Thursday, March 8, and in print in the Sunday Book Review on March 18.

Moving forward, the Best-Seller Lists, which previously published online on Fridays, will now publish on Thursday mornings.

“The vibrant growth of audiobooks in the industry has created a need for an impartial, reliable source for tracking and reporting the top-selling audiobooks across the country,” said Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review. “The Times recognizes the increased reader and listener interest in audiobooks, as well as in the Book Review’s increasing depth of coverage of audiobooks, and we’re thrilled we’ll be able to provide them independent data they can rely on.”

The Book Review will continue to publish in print the Combined Lists and Hardcover Lists each week. The third page will highlight other Best-Seller Lists on a weekly rotating basis, including the following categories: Paperback (Trade Fiction and Paperback Nonfiction), the four Children’s Books lists, and Audiobooks.

The Children’s Books Lists and Paperback Lists will continue to be updated and posted weekly online, and in response to reader interest, the Paperback Lists will now expand from 10 books to 15.

They won’t name their sources, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this list is invalid. While Amazon is notoriously protective of their sales data, there are companies, including that new venture from Data Guy, which could supply data to the NYTimes.

It could be  Data Guy, or the NYTimes could be teasing audiobook sales data out of Amazon Charts, or getting data from smaller audiobook distributors like Findaway and Downpour.

But let’s face facts: Amazon controls close to 90% of the audiobook market, and if the NYTimes isn’t getting data from Amazon then this list has absolutely no connection with reality.

image by Jon Grado

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darryl March 6, 2018 um 10:18 pm

No connection with reality? You mean like their existing bestseller lists?

More seriously, I’m not aware what data is available to them. I do hope they are attempting a genuine list rather than something which can be easily gamed. We shall see.

Nate Hoffelder March 7, 2018 um 7:29 am


Randy Lea March 6, 2018 um 10:24 pm

Reading their page, they don’t really say much specifically about audiobooks, other than they report both physical and digital sales. The big thing I noted is that they exclude both free and low cost audiobooks. I know there are a ton of free and cheap ebooks that are "sold", I have no idea about audiobooks, but I’d think there are some self-published audiobooks made by the author.

They note they take in sales from affiliate links. I also think they get a lot of readers for the lists and reviews.

Randy Lea March 7, 2018 um 12:40 pm

With the rapid growth of audiobooks, I think they are kind of forced to start this list. Their readers want to know, helps them make purchasing decisions. I don’t think they really make false claims about the data, they really don’t say much about it. Without Amazon data, it’s clearly not totally accurate, but my guess its the best they can do.

They are a business that needs to make money. If readers (or listeners) demand this list, then they need to make their customers happy. This helps with subscriptions, ads, and they also make money from sales through their web site.

If they are doing their best, I don’t have a problem with it. I’ve never assumed their print book data was totally accurate for the many years I’ve read the paper. If they chose to do deals with publishers, and I’ve never heard any accusations of this, to promote books on the lists, then that’s a problem.

I just take these lists as useful info, nothing more or less.

T Semple March 8, 2018 um 3:46 pm

“Physical” sales? As in CDs and cassette tapes? Is that still a thing?

They can probably get a reasonably plausible best-seller list by looking at everyone else’s best-seller lists (Audible, Apple, Google, etc.) and without knowing what actual sales are. Sort of like a meta-bestseller list.

Editores y libreros frente a Von Clausewitz – El blog de Bernat Ruiz March 15, 2018 um 1:20 pm

[…] Nate Hoffelder –editor del influyente blog The Digital Reader– comentaba hace unos días que la nueva lista podría ser de todo menos fiable: […]

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