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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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:
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!
|Features||Sales Rank Express||RankForest||Title-Z beta||Charteous||RankTracer|
|Comparison charting||no (*yes)||X||X||X|
|Data export||no (*yes)||X|
|# Books can track||1 (*up to 100)||?
||no limit||1 / subscription|
|Update interval||live (manual)||4 hours (*hourly)||1/day||1/day +||hourly|
|Sales estimates||no (*yes)||X|
|Price tiers||Free||Free – US$59 / mo||Free||Free||$2 / subscription / mo|
* = available for fee
? = site unavailable