Infographic: Take a sneak peek at the sales of five bestselling business books
After comparing the sales of books on entrepreneurship and small business in the article entitled "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries sells its way to small business and entrepreneurial success", I wanted to get a feel for the sales figures for leading generic business books.
To be honest, my expectation was that small business books would exceed the sales of more generic business books, with the exception perhaps of autobiographical books covering business personalities like the late Steve Jobs. I included the sales figures for the Kindle version of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson in the attached graph, for interest's sake.
I've certainly been set straight. Not only are the bestselling generic business books outselling their small business and entrepreneurial counterparts, they're also outselling every other category of business books, like marketing, advertising, PR, eCommerce and so on. They're outselling everything except a handful of the biggest fiction titles like "The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
At the time of writing, in fact, Steve Jobs (Hardcover) was at number 4 on the overall Amazon bestseller list for books. However, I won't comment too much on it since I feel that this particular book's sales figures are related more to the circumstances surrounding Steve Jobs than to the author or book itself.
For this business book bestseller sales smack-down, we have the following titles included in the graph (provided courtesy of RankTracer - Amazon sales analytics):
- Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (Kindle Edition) by Michael Lewis
- Steve Jobs (Kindle Edition) by Walter Isaacson
- Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen by David Novak
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
The graph shows the following sales figures for Amazon.com for the week starting on the 22nd of January, 2012:
- Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (Kindle Edition): 1487 sales at an average sales rank of 20
- Steve Jobs (Kindle Edition): 2362 sales at an average sales rank of 10
- Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen: 1346 sales at an average sales rank of 32
- Thinking, Fast and Slow: 919 sales at an average sales rank of 138
- Strengths Finder 2.0: 2896 sales at an average sales rank of 15
Without exception, all of these books are keeping amazon's logistical department in work. As always, we'll take a look at the author's online social profile to see if there's a correlation to sales, as in the case of the marketing books sales smackdown in which the author's social reach had a rough correspondence to their sales.
Comparing the social reach to business book sales figures
I should take a moment to point out that, at least in the case of Steve Jobs, it is likely that the book's sales figures are more related to Steve Jobs than the author himself, so that is likely to skew any potential correlation.
Also noted is the fact that the small business and entrepreneurial book sales had little to no correlation to the authors' social reach. Many of the small business book authors had very little social engagement - which was surprising to me given the large social footprints of the marketing authors.
- David Novak: NA twitter followers; included in NA Google+ circles
- Tom Rath: NA twitter followers; included in NA Google+ circles
- Walter Isaacson: 1665 twitter followers; included in NA Google+ circles
- Daniel Kahneman: NA twitter followers; included in NA Google+ circles
- Michael Lewis: NA twitter followers; included in NA Google+ circles
Trying to find any trace of social reach for this stable of authors was like finding a needle in a haystack. There's nothing there. If you know of a personal twitter or Google+ account for any of these authors, please feel free to share it with me in the comments.
Ok, so let's put things in perspective. The authors have next to no social reach within the context of the above metrics, but let's not forget that, for example, David Novak is CEO of the largest restaurants company in the world (Yum! brands), or that Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel laureate.
It's also important to note that while the individual authors have very little personal social reach on the major social networks, the publishers behind these titles have made sure that there is plenty of online visibility for these books themselves.
From this and the previous sales smack-downs, it is apparent to me that while building your own personal social reach can have a large affect on the sales of your books/products, traditional methods are still more effective (being an influential personality in the real world, having the backing of a major publisher, traditional media exposure, and so on).
It seems slightly discouraging that the massive amount of effort that goes into building up a social following and extending online visibility and authority is not nearly as effective as traditional media. What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any examples of how pure online marketing lead to sales in the same ballpark as those titles mentioned in this article?
As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or by following on twitter and Google+. Remember that you can create your own sales smack-downs by tracking books and products at RankTracer.
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