November 17, 2003

What America Reads recently released its list of Top 50 Best-selling Books of 2003. I scoured the list looking for patterns and other facts of interest. Here's what I found.
  • More and more Americans are reading about politics. The list has ten books on the subject as opposed to eight from the previous year and just two from 2001 in the top 50. A clear evidence of how things have changed post 9/11. One out of every five best-selling books sold at Amazon today is of political nature. Most are commentaries on left-wing and right-wing politics. Other categories are: govt. policy, international relations, current events, communism, democracy and intelligence.

  • The second most popular category is Mysteries/thrillers with seven books. The count would be eleven if we also include two children's books and a couple of sci-fi and fantasy books.

  • Another popular category is self-help with as many as four books within the top fifteen. Three of these are on diet and weight loss.

  • No technology book made it to the list and there is just one on business and investing. It's Seth Godin's Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable at #35.

  • Non fiction books outscored fiction by a wide margin. There were 35 non-fiction books and 15 books on fiction.

  • The #1 book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the most discussed book on the list with a whopping 4647 customer reviews. For some reason, Natural Philosophy which only has a single review and an Amazon sales rank of 79,643 still made it to #33 in the list.

  • Customer ratings do not necessarily represent the popularity of the book. Crossroads of Twilight, #31 in the list has the minimum customer rating of 1.5 stars from 1680 reviews and Natural Philosophy has 5-star rating from a single review. Average customer rating of a book is 3.93 stars.

Fiction - 15 books

Mysteries / thrillers [7] Rank: 2, 6, 17, 19, 27, 43, 46
Children's books [2] Rank: 1, 14
Sci-fi and fantasy [2] Rank: 31, 45
General-contemporary [2] Rank: 39, 49
Religion- Christianity [1] Rank: 37
Entertainment [1] Rank: 48

Non fiction - 35 books

Politics - 10 books
General [4] Rank: 4, 9, 16, 26
Govt. policy [1] Rank: 15
International relation [1] Rank: 21
Current events [1] Rank: 28
Communism [1] Rank: 29
Democracy [1] Rank: 50
Intelligence [1] Rank: 40

Self help - 4 books
Diet and weight-loss [3] Rank: 3, 8, 12
Personal change [1] Rank: 13

Biographies [4] Rank: 5, 18, 20, 22

Sports - 3 books
Baseball [2] Rank: 11, 30
Golf [1] Rank: 34

Education [3] Rank: 7, 10, 32
True Accounts [2] Rank: 24, 42
Religion - Christianity [2] Rank: 23, 25
Cooking [2] Rank: 44, 47
Philosophy [1] Rank: 33
Business [1] Rank: 35
Dictionaries [1] Rank: 36
Publishing [1] Rank: 38
Earth Science [1] Rank: 41

The complete list of Amazon's Top 50 Best Selling books of 2003.

Best-selling by Location or Company

Browsing through the above best-seller lists, I stumbled onto a useful new feature - Purchase Circles. Amazingly, it allows you to sort best-selling books by a geographic location, company or an institution.

You can now read what they are reading in New York, Seattle or for that matter in the heart of the Silicon Valley: Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Palo alto and Los Altos.

Take a peek inside MIT, Stanford and Yale. And check out Oracle, Microsoft and Apple.

If you ever wonder what those big time consultants or ad agencies read. Here's your answer: Best-sellers at Accenture, Pricewaterhouse, Booz Allen and O&M.

I don't think many people from India buy much from Amazon, because of the high shipping costs - I usually get friends in the US to send me books. But the list of best-selling books from India is still interesting to look at.

By the way, even the U.S. Military is reading Harry Potter!

Related Links
Purchase Circles Home
Purchase Circles FAQ
More Best-sellers for: Interface Design, Web Development and if it interests you - Linux


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