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June 4, 2008

Track your Amazon.com sales rank

Filed under: Reviews — cozmsbrpng @ 8:33 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You just published your first book, and your inevitable horde of doting fans is just on the other side of your next sale. Tracking the popularity of your book is possible through the Amazon.com Sales Rank number that is posted for each book. Currently the #1 slot is owned by Scott McClellan, and the competition for the top ranks is fierce. For the majority of you, this will be an exercise in humility, but fear not! You will be glad to learn that not only are you not alone but you need help.

Perhaps you enjoy huddling around your glowing monitor, watching your book’s Amazon page refresh, scrolling down, scanning the page for the sales rank, squinting, and then trying to remember the previous number. For the rest of you, in support of your sales rank addiction, while simultaneously preserving your eyesight and spare time, I humbly submit a review of Amazon sales rank trackers. The most popular ones I could find are Sales Rank Express, RankForest, Title-Z, Charteous, and RankTracer. One honorable mention is a greasemonkey script that turns Amazon bookIDs into links that are supposed to add the book to Rankforest’s tracking database, but it doesn’t work anymore.

Update 11/23/2009
A recent addition to the scene is NovelRank.  It’s features are given by its creator in the comments section.  In the few minutes I had to check it out it looked quite good!

For a quick look at the results, check out the table at the bottom of the page.

Sales Rank Express

This site allows instant lookups of books on most of the important fields. For quick and dirty searches that you don’t want to track, this is the best site. It’s easy to search and it’s very fast.

Rank Forest

This site appears to have once been free, but now charges up to 60 USD a month for its features, in addition to a free option. You don’t get much for free on this site. You can only track one book at a time, which means you can’t take advantage of their cool AJAX multi-book charting comparison tool. Sales estimates are also available for a fee, as well as data exporting. Overall the site is well designed, but I’m turned off by the fees.

Title-Z beta

Update 11/23/09
TitleZ appears to be in much better shape now than when I originally reviewed it.  The sales rank of the book I wanted to track is recorded as advertised, and it does allow searching by ISBN – just use the keyword search.  The time axis on the printed report is too cluttered to read, but the sales rank history view x-axis is ok.  The problem with that view is that the y-axis cuts off digits at the millions and above.  Of course, you can see the y-axis for large numbers in the printed report…if you’re like me, those sales ranks of interest can get pretty high.  Overall, I’d say TitleZ is quite good now.

The name of this site says it all. Don’t go there unless you want your data to disappear down a dark hole never to hear a satisfying, “plop.” I couldn’t even review the site because it went down shortly after I visited it. I’ve heard that it only tracks data for new books for two weeks also, which severely limits its usefulness. Next!

Charteous

This one is my favorite free utility. The colors are a bit garish, and the design is also a bit harsh, but it does what you want at the right price — free. I quickly added the books I wanted to track without having to register, and I could browse their database relatively easily. Charteous was the only service to allow embedding of their charts within other web pages. Their API is also easy enough to use that multiple books can be compared within the embedded chart. And, if you get tired of books you can compare rankings in any of Amazon’s other product categories. None of the registration-dependent features worked for me since I haven’t received my account details yet, but that may come soon in which case I will update my review.

RankTracer

RankTracer is hard to evaluate since the features require a fee up front. However, from the tour, their feature set seems to be the most mature out of all the offerings. However, I can’t verify this without a few subscriptions to play with. The RSS feed looks to be very informative, and their graphing capabilites seem powerful. I couldn’t figure out how to view items in their database without having a subscription. Their target audience is not the casual user, so steer clear unless you’re ready to pay up front.

One other alternative to consider is to make your own charts, which I was able to do using a firefox add-on called Chartlet. It is quite easy to make beautiful charts using this add-on once you know how to use it. The documentation is a bit sparse, but if you have a little programming experience it’s straight-forward. Before learning Chartlets I would have thought an XPath query was something an uber-geek would use to recall his MDMA experience, but now I am truly enlightened. Check out these Amazon sales ranks I tracked:

chartlet

Do you know of any others? Did you have any better experience with Title-Z? Let me know if you are curious how to set up your own chartlet. I also set one up for democratic primary superdelegate counts. Peace!

ho-ope!

Results

Features Sales Rank Express RankForest Title-Z beta Charteous RankTracer
Search By X X X X X
author X X X
title X X X X
publisher X X
ISBN X X X X X
key words X X X X
History X X X X
Charting X X X X
Comparison charting no (*yes) X X X
Chart embedding
X
Data export no (*yes)
X
# Books can track 1 (*up to 100) ?
no limit 1 / subscription
Permalink
X
Out-of-turn scan
X
RSS feed X
X
PDF reports
X
Update interval live (manual) 4 hours (*hourly) 1/day 1/day + hourly
Sales estimates no (*yes)
X
Ads yes (*no)
Price tiers Free Free – US$59 / mo Free Free $2 / subscription / mo

* = available for fee
? = site unavailable

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11 Comments »

  1. Unfortunately, it seems that the departure of the developper of Charteous for yahoo! has led him to shut down his site. Indeed, this departure is simultaneous to the unavailability of the site…

    Comment by xi'an — November 7, 2008 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for the update, xi’an

    Comment by cozmsbrpng — November 7, 2008 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

  3. Thank you for this valuable information!

    Comment by Tracey McBride — November 20, 2008 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  4. If you have any further questions about Rankforest or your free publisher-level trial just let me know.

    Comment by Steven — January 5, 2009 @ 9:31 pm | Reply

  5. When I first started looking for this type of service, I started with this article months ago. With many of these sites now gone, and being dissatisfied with the others, I created my own:

    NovelRank.com for tracking all the domains (yes, even Germany and Japan). Best part? No ads, no fees, no logins required.

    Comment by Mario — November 2, 2009 @ 5:42 am | Reply

  6. To be clear, all these services are still around except charteous. Congratulations on your new service, Mario. It looks very promising. AFAIK, yours is the first free service to display sales estimates.

    Comment by cozmsbrpng — November 2, 2009 @ 7:49 pm | Reply

  7. Have you seen Metric Junkie? It’s a free service that allows users to track the Amazon sales ranks of up to 10 books, CDs and DVDs simultaneously. Estimated sales and market share information are provided via a combination of charts, graphs, tables, and icons providing users with a variety of meaningful ways to view and interpret their data. Users can also view data between user specified time periods. Ranks are collected hourly and displayed on some of the sexiest interactive charts around.

    But don’t take my word for it. Setup your free account and see for yourself. No Gimmicks, not bull, just the stats!

    Site: MetricJunkie.com

    Comment by Mark — November 3, 2009 @ 4:47 am | Reply

  8. Mark, your site
    -doesn’t render well in my browser
    -is hard to navigate
    -makes my eyeballs feel like they just got sold.
    Thanks for letting us know about your service though, and good luck to you.

    Comment by cozmsbrpng — November 3, 2009 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  9. Title-z works just fine. It’s clearly a free service that someone set up and just lets run, but I’ve never seen it be down. And it does allow ISBN search, contrary to the chart above.

    Title-z is a simple, no frills website, but it’s nicely laid out, and easy to use, and free! I’d suggest starting here, and moving up to a pay site as you find features that you want.

    The main flaws are that it, probably like most of them, tracks sales rank, not sales. That means that lower is better, and the height of the chart really doesn’t relate to sales (how much more does rank 1,000 sell that rank 10,000? Who knows?), and I suspect it samples once a day.

    It’s a nicely done, free website that doesn’t pretend to be anything more than that.

    Comment by Tom — November 21, 2009 @ 11:31 pm | Reply

  10. Thanks Tom, I updated my TitleZ-beta comments. It is working quite well now. However, to be clear, NovelRank.com does give sales estimates.

    Comment by cozmsbrpng — November 23, 2009 @ 6:42 pm | Reply

  11. I also added a link to NovelRank, although it is not reviewed in the chart or discussion.

    Comment by cozmsbrpng — November 23, 2009 @ 6:46 pm | Reply


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