Hi, my name is Matt from RocketBomber.com — I’m here to walk you through my bestseller charts for manga.
So what’s manga?
Well, “I know it when I see it” and most online retailers already use Manga as a category so with few exceptions, I just agree with them. As to the exceptions: many retailers lump in other comics with manga, either because the publisher of a given book also publishes manga, or some broad similarities of style. I skip these books, currently including but not limited to Usagi Yojimbo, Scott Pilgrim, Avatar comics, Twilight comics, and the Odd Thomas graphic novels from Dean Koontz & Queenie Chan — Some of these are great books, just not manga.
Once a week, I visit several sites to check their Manga categories, and I sort the search results by ‘bestselling’. (The links below will pull up exactly that.)
I then click through, page after page, and type the titles into a spreadsheet in the order that they are ranked on the sales site.
Once I have a full list, I assign points to the books depending on how highly they rank, and on which sites. Add up the points each title earns on each of the sites to get a composite score, and there’s your ranking.
In concept, it’s that simple. If you’d like to go in depth into some of the math involved click here
“Outliers creep into the data anyway, because I don’t have the sales numbers. I can only see what the online retailers Are Trying To Sell To Me: you could consider my chart a list of online sales efforts rather than tracking actual completed sales.” If you’d like even more insight into the process, please read A Variation and Diversion on the 2012 Bestseller Charts which posted 26 January 2013
- Online Bookstores: Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Borders, Chapters/Indigo, Hastings, & Powell’s
- Amazon’s Manga Category Listings & their Manga Hourly Bestsellers
- and Buy.com
The bestsellers from each site are scored, compiled, and ranked in a Top 500, and the data is also used (occasionally with a smidge of extra math) to compile a Top 50 Series chart and rankings for new releases and preorders.
Questions Will Be Answered: Send emails to matt [at] rocketbomber [dot] com.
1. “I’m curious about the meaning of the various numbers in an entry. I had hoped that would be explained in your explanation post but I didn’t see it. Could you post that information sometime?”
15. ↓-1 (14) : Cardcaptor Sakura Omnibus 2 – Dark Horse, Dec 2010 [308.4] ::
Reading an entry left to right, we have this weeks ranking (#15 in the sample above) followed by the movement of the title up or down since last week (down one rank, ↓-1, just before last week’s rank in parentheses) and then the title and volume #, publisher, and approximate publication date. The very last number is my score. It does not correspond to actual books sold as I don’t have that information. In fact, very early on I had to change my reporting and add a decimal so folks wouldn’t confuse the score with a whole number of volumes sold.
I occasionally recalibrate my entire chart, based on the sources available and their relative strengths, but for the most part you could think of 500.0 as being the maximum score any title could receive. The #1 title any given week usually scores between 410.0 and 425.0. As noted above, titles earn points based on how highly they appear on sales sites; the total number of points received becomes the aggregate score.
“Bestsellers” — Each site that posts a bestseller list has different sources and methods; often both are treated as trade secrets, even though ranking on a bestsellers lists can mean a lot to a first-time author or small publisher. The New York Times Bestseller imprimatur is money in the bank. Publishers proudly emblazon said status on the cover of the book, and the lucky wordsmith will forever bear the sobrequet of “New York Times Bestselling Author”.
In the publishing world, this is a big deal.
Other papers-of-record (The USA Today list, for example, which is not only longer but more inclusive and — on it’s face, at least — much more democratic) and even major retailers also maintain bestseller lists, but they’ll never be able to conjure the same magic as the New York Times. Something about old New York’s status as a publishing centre, and the 70 years that the NYT has published their charts, are what make their bestsellers ‘the’ bestsellers, but even Wikipedia can point you to older charts, and the controversy surrounding the term, and the different ways the term ‘bestselling’ is used depending on context, region, and even things like the format of the book and the venue in which it is sold.
One reason I maintain my own bestseller lists is that I dislike the ambiguity and secrecy of the New York Times list, and I personally am interested in much more than just the Top 10.
Some reading and references:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32336521/ns/business-us_business/page/2/ “Secrets of the Amazon best-seller list”
Via Google Books, an excerpt from the New York Times Book Review on manipulation of the charts in 2000. Or you can read about how it was done in 1995. Or you can read about it on the Freakonomics blog, hosted by the New York Times.
boilerplate © and CC:
Manga estimated online sales rankings compiled by Matt Blind for the benefit of the Manga Fan, Creator, and Publishing Communities and posted at mangabookshelf.com. Derived from publicly available information; if you feel your intellectual property has been infringed upon then I’d advise you to chill, consult your lawyers again, maybe grow a thicker skin, and then also recognize that you’re getting a free, weekly link directly to your lovely offerings [right at the top of each archived chart, in case you missed it] on a blog that specifically caters to fans of the medium. Maybe you should be sending me money, or free manga, as opposed to getting your boxers/panties in a bunch over imaginary copyrights.
All data as posted released back for your re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike license (be free, little numbers, go frolic and prosper) with merely a humble request that you link to this blog rather than steal, and that any derivative works include an attribution and also remain free to all.
If you have questions, corrections, or concerns please send an email to matt [at] rocketbomber [dot] com.