Here is some of the Amazon Sales rank data and charts off of it. I would have preferred getting numbers on actual books sold, but I don’t see a way to get that info. So I’m going off of Amazon’s Kindle (eBook) paid sales rankings. As those rankings just give a sort of snapshot in time, I’ve taken a look at them a few times and will likely look a couple of more times to get more data points as the rankings seem rather volatile. I took a quick look at Barnes & Noble’s rankings as well and ended up throwing all of that out as there were many more works that B&N didn’t have available than Amazon. I chose to took at eBooks since I can fairly well say those are still ‘in print’ and wouldn’t have to go searching through multiples of old, out of print copies trying to determine which one would be the best to use, or trying to average out all the multiples. There are a few that aren’t listed (I believe CJ Cherryh has reclaimed the rights to many of her novels and has them for sale on her own site).
In general I would expect recent years to out perform past years. That does appear to be the trend when looking at the Mean and Median Sales Rank of all nominations from about the turn of the century onward, though there are some outliers. The winners generally are still best sellers and outperform the average nominee, though there are quite a few years where a non-winning book, or books, are selling much better than the winner.
Harry Potter is still kicking ass in sales. The two Harry Potter books in the list (Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire) are easily the best selling of all the nominees, and are the only ones in the top 100 of Kindle sales. The recent TV series based off The Man in the High Castle has brought that up to just outside of the top 200. The dramatization of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is keeping sales of those up as well. I think my biggest surprise is Corey’s Leviathan Wakes being in the top 1000.
The Mean Sales Rank of all nominations (1959-2015): 178,567
The Median Sales Rank of all nominations (1959-2015): 83,408
The Mean Sales rank of all winners (1953-2015): 50,771
The Median Sales Rank of all Winners (1953-2015): 27,496
The most recent years seem to be doing fairly well for most nominees, which is what I’d expect with them being newer publications.
There seems, visually at least, to be a trough around the mark of the new century. The mid ’80’s seem to have been a time of popular works, then sales of the average nominee appear to start slipping until around 2000 and then working their way back up. Some of this may be due to the fact that there are some novels in that era that have just dropped off the table in terms of sales and are hovering around the 1 million rank (or worse). The early years of the Hugo Awards seem quite volatile with very wide swings in sales (even among the winners) until the ’60’s.
I’ll try and get some more data point this week and maybe get a better chart.With any luck I’ll get something more posted next weekend.