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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Year in Books 2017 From Amazon’s POV

Say what you want about Amazon, but they know a lot about the reading habits of their customers. Yes, it is creepy and it is one of the reasons I buy very few books from them, but as a library worker their treasure trove of data is very useful to us.

Because Amazon sells a lot of self published authors AND has Audible, they also give us a much fuller picture of what is being read in America by everyone than we get from traditional best seller lists which give more weight to more traditionally published books even though some self published, ebook titles may actually sell more copies than some of the titles on the traditional lists.

Amazon has put all of this data to a very good use as far as those of us serving leisure readers in the public library are concerned with their release of the 2017 Year in Books Charts.

No matter how you feel about Amazon, you need to visit this page. It isn’t tied to the year the books were published, it is tied to what was read this year. And it is real people and their habits not critics. We all know that people pick what to read based on a variety of reasons and critical acclaim is often not the largest determining factor. This chart reflects a full cross section of American readers. In other words, this chart is a report on what our patrons were actually most interested in reading this year. 

WE NEED TO KNOW THIS. Many libraries do not fully understand what our patrons really want. Well, this resource is a step forward in that regard.

Every single one of you who reads this blog needs to look at it. You will see media tie-tie ins like It and The Handmaid’s Tale as well as the critical darlings. There is data aggregated by state, and even further down, by month, there are lists of the most quotable books, and even the most “unputdownable.” You will see lists of the most read translated books and even the most popular animals in books [library workers know this might be the most important list, hint cats aren’t happy].

They also have an entire section on cover trends of the year. [See yesterday’s post for more on that topic].

Browsing through the chart will give you a much better sense of what our patrons are looking for than any other resource. Use it for collection development, use it for displays, use it for conversation starters. Just use it.


Abby said...

Okay, so I clicked through to This Year in Books and the first book I spot is a book that just today a patron requested that we purchase! So yes, I can see this is a useful tool! Thank you for featuring it! :D

Anonymous said...

Hi! Thank you for sending this out. I don't think that the lists live up to your hype, however. From what I can see, the lists are based on Kindle and Audible sales only -- they don't include sales of actual print books. That means they leave out a pretty big swath of the population, especially at a time when ebook sales are flat or dropping relative to print book sales. I'm not saying these lists are useless, but they are limited -- and they are not nearly as comprehensive as you suggest. I would much prefer that Amazon include the sales of print books in these lists. Then they would be as powerful as you say, because they would have print books, ebooks, and audiobooks all in one place. But -- I do agree with your premise: Librarians can't just look at bestseller lists or critical darlings -- we have to cast our nets wider.

Becky said...

I agree that because there is no print it is limited, but combined with what we know about print already, these charts open up an entirely new view into a larger world of books and reading habits. And mostly importantly, the habits we don’t see as much!