What is Sales Rank Express?
Sales Rank Express is an Amazon sales rank checker, designed for quick, up-to-the-minute checking of Amazon sales rank (or ranking) and other vital info about your own books or others that interest you. Though it also offers limited tracking, it is not basically a sales rank tracker—like NovelRank, RankForest, Metric Junkie, RankTracer, Books & Writers, eBookTracker, or the Sales Info tab of Amazon.com’s Author Central. But Sales Rank Express is unequalled at providing an up-to-the-second snapshot of the status and standing of one or more books on Amazon. In one handy place and format, it collects the info that would take you much longer to dig up on Amazon itself.
From the main page, you can check on books that match author, publisher, title, and/or ISBN or ASIN. For each book displayed, you can then check all additional versions of that book as linked by Amazon, or check on books that Amazon pairs with it for promotion. Sales Rank Express even helps you correct any errors of Amazon’s that you spot!
One of the chief advantages of Sales Rank Express is its international scope. You can just as easily check your books on Amazon in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Spain, France, Italy, Germany, India, Japan, or China. And most of the info is yours without knowing any language other than English.
Sales Rank Express works by collecting and organizing data from Amazon’s Product Advertising API. Sales Rank Express is completely free to use, as much and as often as you like. It is supported by book promotions and by commissions on your purchases at Amazon if you follow links. If you use it regularly, you will probably want to subscribe to S.R.E.’s email bulletins to receive notice of alterations, issues, and enhancements.
While this FAQ gives you everything you need to use Sales Rank Express, the book Aiming at Amazon, by Aaron Shepard, provides background to help you interpret and improve your results. Another important resource for background is Morris Rosenthal’s frequently updated article “What Amazon Sales Rank Means,” at www.fonerbooks.com/surfing.htm.
Updated July 13, 2013
How do I look up books?
To start, the Sales Rank Express search form is set to search Amazon.com, Amazon’s U.S. site—but you can switch to any other of Amazon’s national sites by clicking one of the radio buttons or country names at the top of the form.
Next, fill in one or more of the text boxes. (You can quickly move from one to the next with your Tab key.)
Author. The name or any part of it. In this case, “Author” actually means any book creator, including illustrator, photographer, translator, or narrator.
Publisher. The publisher name or any part of it.
Title. The title or any words from it. Words like “and” or “the” are ignored, so you can skip them.
ISBN/ASIN. ISBN is the International Standard Book Number, used to identify each format of each edition of any title. The ISBN is generally found on the book’s back cover in the bar code box, and also on the copyright page (title verso). You can enter either the current, 13-digit version or the older, 10-digit version. (The 13-digit version is often called the EAN—European Article Number—because it’s a type of EAN, though just for books.) Don’t include any hyphens.
ASIN is the Amazon Standard Identification Number, assigned by Amazon to each item it lists. As long as a book has an ISBN, the older, 10-digit version of it is used as the ASIN. But if the book has no ISBN, or if it’s a Kindle Book, or if it has been improperly listed without its ISBN by a third-party seller, Amazon instead uses its own ten-character combination of letters and numbers. The ASIN is shown by Amazon on the book’s detail page and in the page URL.
In defining your search, fill in just one of these four boxes to get all matches for that entry. Fill in more than one box for results that match all entries together. For instance, entering Joe Small as the author, and Big Books as the publisher, will give you all books by Joe Small published by Big Books. It will not give you Joe Small’s books from other publishers, or books by any other Big Books author. (In database query language, this is an AND request, not an OR.)
For convenience, and to avoid getting caught by listing problems, enter only enough info to bring up the book or books you need. For instance, almost any individual book can be brought up with a last name in the Author box plus two or three keywords in the Title box. If you instead fill in the complete author name and the full title—and if Amazon happens to list one or the other slightly differently—then the book might not come up. Likewise, if you search for a single book by ISBN or ASIN, do not fill in any other box.
Capitalization doesn’t matter, so you may type all lower case or all upper case for convenience. For accented letters, you can leave off the accent and still get a match.
You can use an asterisk at the end of any word or number as a “wildcard” character. For instance, entering “soap*” in the Title box will get books that have titles with “soap,” “soaps,” “soapmaking,” “soapmakers,” and so on. Bonus tip: In the ISBN/ASIN box, this means you can place an asterisk after a publisher ISBN prefix—the identifying digits that don’t change—and get all books from that publisher, even if Amazon lists the publisher in different forms or as different imprint names! For instance, “9780938497*” in this box would give you all books from Shepard Publications, including the ones that Amazon lists under “Shepard Pubns” or the imprints “Skyhook Press” and “Simple Productions.”
Below those boxes are a set of options for the request. They differ according to country but may include:
Format. You can choose to search among all bindings and formats, or among specific ones, such as hardcover, paperback, audiobook, or Kindle Book. For a complete list of selectable formats with definitions, see below. If you don’t specify, Amazon may show sales ranks from a mixture of formats, making comparisons less meaningful. Since the set of choices differs by country, your selection applies only to the country you’re checking in at the time.
Note that the search is conducted not among all books actually in your specified format, but among books that Amazon says are in that format. If a particular book doesn’t show up in results, this may mean that Amazon’s data needs correcting.
Specifying a format affects only what appears in Sales Rank Express’s primary search results. Regardless of your choice, Sales Rank Express will include links to related versions in other formats that are reported by Amazon.
Origin. This option appears only for some Amazon sites in non-English-speaking countries. For those countries, you can select either “Imported”—books from outside the country—or “Domestic”—books from within the country—but not both together. For instance, if you are an American author checking the sales rank in Japan of your book published in the U.S., you would choose “Imported.” Your choice applies only to the country you’re checking in at the time.
Sort order. Sales Rank Express offers a number of sort orders, reflecting at least some of the choices Amazon offers for search results on its sites. Since the set of choices differs by country, your selection applies only to the country you’re checking in at the time. Note that, for all choices, the sort is performed by Amazon, not by Sales Rank Express.
The default here for all countries is “Sales”—the order that Amazon calls “Bestselling”—which is calculated by Amazon around twice a week with modest adjustments in between. This calculation is not based on sales rank—so don’t count on seeing the ranks in order. For a fuller discussion, see below.
For some countries, Sales Rank Express offers a sort order based on “Relevance.” This helps avoid getting mostly irrelevant books at the top of results, as can often happen in broad searches. If you’re having this problem, try “Relevance” in place of “Sales.”
“Available Only.” If you check this box, you’ll get only books available for ordering on that Amazon site, either from Amazon itself or from a third-party seller that is listing there. Note that you will still get books out of print, as long as used copies are available.
“Omit Rank Tracking” and “Omit Review Stats.” These boxes are viewing options. By checking one or both, you can tell Sales Rank Express to omit the rank tracking display and/or the review statistics display for faster operation. For details, see below.
Sales Rank Express uses “cookies” placed on your own computer to remember the text you enter and selections not specific to a country, saving you from starting over the next time you view the page. To get this to work, though, make sure you’re reaching Sales Rank Express by the exact same address each time—your browser will store settings separately for “salesrankexpress.com” and “www.salesrankexpress.com.”
The form finishes with buttons for various actions:
“Save” and “Recall.” These sets of buttons let you save your entries and recall them whenever you like. For instance, you can fill out the form to check books of your own, then click a “Save” button to make Sales Rank Express remember indefinitely what you entered. If you then temporarily make changes to check different books, you can quickly revert by clicking the matching “Recall” button.
Sales Rank Express has buttons to save and recall two distinct sets of entries. The entries saved are those that apply to all countries—author, publisher, title, ISBN/ASIN, and availability. To save and recall, make sure you’re reaching Sales Rank Express by the exact same address each time.
“Start Over.” This clears your entries from the form so you can start fresh. The entries cleared are those that apply to all countries—author, publisher, title, ISBN/ASIN, and availability.
“GET RANKS!” This tells Sales Rank Express to go check Amazon sales ranks and other info. Note that you don’t actually have to click on this button. If you’ve been entering text in one of the boxes and your cursor is still there, you can just hit Return or Enter on your keyboard to start the process.
Updated Oct. 18, 2014
What are the extra links for?
Below the S.R.E. search form are a selection of helpful links that are specific to the country you choose. Here is what you might see:
Amazon Associates. Amazon’s program for commissioned referrals, mostly through links from your Web site. The name of the link remains the same, though the actual name of the program varies by language.
Author Central. Amazon’s special, customizable page for each author, featuring a list of books, a biography, photos, video, and blogging. It also serves as a nexus point for author communications with Amazon, and may even allow submitting and editing content for appearance on Amazon’s book detail pages.
English Contact. Some non-English-speaking countries have a special contact form for English speakers.
Updated Oct. 28, 2011
What’s on the results page?
Results are displayed on a series of pages with up to ten books each. The maximum number of pages you can access this way is ten. Here’s what you’ll see:
Page title. This identifies the country of the site you’re checking in.
Summary. This tells you what entries you were trying to match and with what option settings, the date and time in local format (as set on your computer and formatted by your browser), the total number of items in the results, the page number, and the total results pages. This info appears also at the page bottom.
Header/Footer. The header and footer provide navigation buttons to the next and previous pages and to the home page.
Item listings. This is what you came for—the info for each individual book, with up to ten books per page. See below for details.
Updated Oct 28, 2011
What does this show me about each book?
Sales Rank Express shows you more data on your books than any other Amazon sales rank tracker or checker. Here’s what’s shown for each book on the results page, moving from left to right, and top to bottom.
Scores column. This is where you’ll find the book’s sales rank, and the name of the category within which the rank is assigned. The category, though, shows up only in the results of a primary search, not when you look up pairings with the “Get Pairings” button, or versions with the “Get Versions” button. See below for much more about Amazon sales rank and sales rank categories.
If you’re looking up pairings with the “Get Pairings” button (see below), the number of the book’s position on the list—its “pairing rank”—will be shown above the sales rank.
Book cover image. This should be your book’s image in one of the smaller of Amazon’s standard sizes, as shown in search results on its site. Sales Rank Express will also tell you if Amazon has no cover image for the book at all. Clicking on the image sends you to the book’s page on Amazon.
Book Data rows. The first four rows in the main info area include the data that identifies and describes the book—what people in publishing call the “metadata.”
The first row includes book name data:
Full title of the book, with a link to the book’s page on Amazon.
In parentheses, the name of any series the book is part of, along with the book’s number within the series. (Amazon appends this data to the title it sends.)
In parentheses, any identifier that Amazon has for the edition, apart from what’s in the title itself.
The second row includes creation data:
Author or authors, plus any other contributors, with their contribution identified.
Publisher or imprint (publishing division).
Publication date, in year, year-month, or year-month-day format.
The third row includes book volume data:
Binding or other kind of format. The language used to describe it will vary by country. Sales Rank Express will translate the most common terms for you, and you can also see below for those translations. Note that when Amazon says just “Paperback,” it means trade paperback, the larger paperback common to bookstores. When it says just “Hardcover,” it means a standard hardcover, as opposed to a specialty binding like library binding.
Length in number of pages; or in number of “pieces” (for example, discs or cassettes); or in running time (for audiobook downloads).
ISBN (International Standard Book Number), without hyphens. This is the current, 13-digit form, also known as EAN. If a book is missing an ISBN, Sales Rank Express will report this, unless it’s a Kindle book or audiobook download, which do not require one.
ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). This is what Amazon uses internally to identify the book. For most books, it’s identical to the now obsolete 10-digit form of ISBN, again without hyphens. But if the book never had an ISBN, or if the ISBN is unknown, or if the book was improperly listed without one by a third-party seller, Amazon uses its own identifier.
The fourth row includes content data:
Languages. This can include multiple languages of different types, including language of publication—or more than one, for a bilingual work—and the original language, if the book was translated. (For details, see below.)
Amazon’s internal rating, if any. This can be “Adult”—in the sense of having potentially offensive sexual content—or “Not Adult”—meaning acceptable for general view. (For details, see below.)
All this info is just as displayed on Amazon. If some data is wrong or missing or awkward—which it may well be, if you’ve never checked your book’s data before—you can correct most problems with the “Fix Data” button, as explained below.
Offers rows. These rows describe the offers for the book being provided by Amazon and other sellers on the site. But this data is omitted for Kindle books, because Amazon does not report it accurately or at all.
The first row focuses on Amazon’s offer. For a book sold by Amazon, it should include
“List” price. This is the publisher’s suggested retail price, as you’d normally see on the book cover. For books imported into the various countries, this is normally translated to native currency.
Amazon’s price, in native currency.
Percentage discount, if any, that Amazon’s price gives the customer, plus the actual amount saved. Sales Rank Express will also alert you if a surcharge is being applied.
Availability, meaning how long Amazon says it will take to ship the book. (The language used will vary by country, but Sales Rank Express will translate key terms.) Reported problems may be expressed here in different terms than on Amazon’s own site, so go there to look for more info.
If Amazon doesn’t sell the book itself—or if no one at all sells it on Amazon—Sales Rank Express will tell you on this row.
The second Offers row gives info on all offers together—those of Amazon and of other sellers combined. It includes
A link to all the offers on Amazon.
The total number of offers, and the lowest price available.
In parentheses, the total number of offers of new copies, of used copies, and of “collectible” copies—which Sales Rank Express calls “rare,” to save space—and the lowest price of each.
If there are no outside sellers at all, Sales Rank Express will tell you that instead.
Pairing row. For use in marketing, Amazon tries to pair each title with similar titles, mostly by seeing which books are bought most often by the same customers. This row shows the #1 title among the paired books, with a link to its page on Amazon. For much more about pairings and their importance, see below.
This row will be missing if the book you’re checking doesn’t have enough of a sales record for Amazon to establish pairings.
Versions row. Sales Rank Express lists all of a title’s linked versions in this row, starting with the book they’re being listed under. For more about linked versions, see below.
This row includes
Total number of linked versions.
Each version’s binding or other format, with a link to that version’s page on Amazon.
In parentheses, each version’s ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number)—usually the same as the old, 10-digit ISBN.
After the first version in the list, the rest are listed in numerical order by ASIN. Among versions from the same publisher, this means they’re listed roughly from oldest to newest. The versions are also numbered by Sales Rank Express in the order of listing, but only as a reference aid.
In normal U.S. results, Sales Rank Express is similar to Amazon.com in that only one version is displayed fully, with the rest appearing only in this listing of versions. But Sales Rank Express also provides an easy way to look up all of a book’s versions together, with the “Get Versions” button. (See below.)
The Versions row is omitted if the book is in only one version, or if none other are linked, or if the item is an audiobook download, or if you’re looking up versions directly with the “Get Versions” button. Also, it is missing when you’re looking up pairings with the “Get Pairings” button.
Rank Tracking display. This imported display is specially produced for Sales Rank Express by its partner service, NovelRank. After signing up an individual book for tracking, you will see a chart of up to a week’s sales ranks. Charts are logarithmic, meaning that number values are spaced farther apart at the top. This compensates for Amazon’s sales ranks, which change in smaller increments as books reach higher ranks. If the book currently has no sales rank, you’ll see “No Rank Tracking” in place of the display. Note that NovelRank’s frequency of rank checking varies dynamically, so the last charted value may be several hours behind and differ significantly from the current rank as reported by Sales Rank Express. For one special use of this chart, see below.
Rank tracking is not currently available for audiobooks.
Review Stats display. This imported display is produced directly by Amazon. Among other things, it tells you the total number of Customer Reviews and the book’s average rating. If the book has no reviews, you’ll see “No Reviews” in place of the display.
Updated Oct. 24, 2014
What do the buttons do?
To the right of each book’s info, Sales Rank Express offers buttons for special action.
“Fix Data.” This button brings you right to Amazon’s Catalog Update Form for that book, when available. There you can correct most errors you may have noticed in the Book Data rows. Even if the form is in a language you don’t understand, most of the current data will be shown in your own language, so you’ll see where to correct it. For additional help with forms in different languages, see the translations of key terms in Aiming at Amazon 2.0 or later. Note that the “Fix Data” button does not appear for Kindle books, because the Catalog Update Form cannot be used for them.
“Get Pairings.” This button brings you info on Amazon’s top ten pairings for the book. For much more about pairings and their importance, see below.
When you look up pairings, there are a couple of differences in the info displayed for each book. In the Scores column, you’ll see a number representing the position of the book in the list. Also, Sales Rank Express will not list other versions of the title, or show the “Get Versions” button.
If a book has too little sales history to allow Amazon to establish pairing, Sales Rank Express shows “No Pairings” in place of the button. Note that Amazon itself may still show pairings on the book’s page—but in that case, Amazon is simply listing popular books in the same category till it has more to go on.
“Get Versions.” With this button, you can check the listed book and the other versions Amazon links to it, all together. For much more about linked versions, see below.
Because of programming limitations, Sales Rank Express cannot display linked versions in a series of pages, the way normal results are presented. To work around this, titles with more than ten versions get a series of buttons instead of just one. The regular “Get Versions” button displays the first ten versions, the button below it displays the next ten, and so on. Starting with the second button, each one is labeled to show which of the numbered versions from the Versions row will be displayed.
To check each set of ten, then, you must return to these buttons and click another one. The maximum number of versions that can be checked this way is 100. (Yes, there are titles with more than that!)
When you look up versions, each book’s listing of other versions is omitted, along with the book’s “Get Versions” button. Also the Review Stats display and button is omitted, since results would be the same for each version.
In normal results, if a title comes in only one version, you’ll see “No Versions” in place of the button. When you check pairings, info on other versions is not available, so you see no listing, button, or notice. The same is true if the item is an audiobook download.
“See Tracking.” Appears instead as “See More” when accompanying a Rank Tracking display. This button brings you to NovelRank for additional tracking data and charts. If you’ve already signed up your book, you’ll go directly to its page on that site. If the book currently has no sales rank, you’ll see “No Tracking” in place of the button.
“See Reviews.” Appears instead as “See Latest” when accompanying a Review Stats display. This button brings you to an Amazon page with reviews of the book in newer-to-older order, as well as the ratings average and reviews total. (The link in the Review Stats display instead calls up reviews in order of most helpful.) When looking up versions with the “Get Versions” button, no button or notation will appear, because reviews will be the same for each version.
Updated Oct. 4, 2014
Can I get this on my cell phone or tablet?
Though Sales Rank Express has no specially adapted format for mobile devices, it has been designed to scale gracefully to screens much smaller (and much larger) than the typical desktop monitor. You may need to scroll sideways for some functions, but as a rule, you should be able to comfortably check Amazon sales ranks on any device that lets you run a standard Web browser (for instance, Safari on the iPhone).
If you find the Sales Rank Express display too large for comfort on your small screen, simply use your browser’s text size or zoom command to shrink it. Internet Explorer has both kinds of command, but the zoom command will probably work best for you. Just don’t use both commands on that browser together!
If you find Sales Rank Express too slow on your device, see below.
As for a dedicated app—Amazon does not permit mobile apps to use Amazon’s Product Advertising API, the basis of Sales Rank Express. A working iPhone version has already been killed by Amazon’s adherence to this policy.
Updated Oct. 29, 2011
Is there a way to speed things up?
Sales Rank Express, in its basic operation, is actually quite speedy. Unfortunately, it has no direct source for rank tracking or review stats, so for these it must rely on displays imported from Amazon and NovelRank. Useful as these are, importing the displays slows down Sales Rank Express considerably.
That’s why the S.R.E. search form offers the options to “Omit Rank Tracking” and “Omit Review Stats.” By checking one or both boxes, you tell Sales Rank Express to omit the imported displays for faster operation. This can be especially helpful when viewing on mobile devices like cell phones and tablets.
It can also help with the desktop version of Safari, which currently asks you for permission every time you try to return to a previously-viewed page that includes these displays. The other workaround in this case is to use a different browser to view Sales Rank Express! (No, this is not being anti-Mac. In fact, Sales Rank Express is made on one!)
Updated October 29, 2011
How does Amazon sales rank work?
Amazon sales rank is basically a popularity contest, in which each purchase of a book constitutes a vote for it. It is not an absolute measure of sales quantity, but only a relative measure of where one book stands among all others sold on Amazon. Approximate correlations of average Amazon sales rank to U.S. sales can be found in Morris Rosenthal’s Amazon sales rank analysis. But these are rough figures only and subject to changes over time and season.
Amazon sales rank for all books is now updated once each hour, and all at once. At that time, a book jumps to a higher sales rank (a lower number) for the sale of any new or used copy. With no new sale, the sales rank will drift lower (to a higher number) as books that have sold copies push it down. If a book has no sales rank at all, that means no one has ever bought it!
The time of hourly updating is fairly regular but changes over time and also varies according to your geographical location. For instance, at the Sales Rank Express control center in Washington state, it was found one day to occur regularly at about a quarter after the hour. On the same day, at the Foner Books offices in Massachusetts, it was found to occur on the hour. And on another day here in Washington, it started out at quarter to the hour, then switched later to a quarter after.
The jump in Amazon sales rank that results from a sale will probably not occur at the next hourly update. Tests in May 2007 showed a typical time lag at Amazon.com of around two to three hours between the sale and the jump in sales rank.
Occasionally, Amazon’s system may become “stuck,” so that sales rank does not advance after a sale. You may see sales ranks remain completely static for long periods, or see most of them drift slowly downward. Just wait a while, and Amazon will fix it.
Updated May 30, 2009
How can I find out actual sales on Amazon?
Generally speaking, you can’t—not in any exact, reliable way. Amazon does not provide this information directly. The closest you could come would be the sales reports provided to CreateSpace customers or Advantage members.
For most books, though, you can get a good idea from S.R.E.’s Rank Tracking display, as provided by NovelRank. Upswings in this chart represent the sale of at least one book. Unless your book is selling more rapidly than once per hour, counting the peaks will provide your sales figure for the past week. Note, though, that the chart’s last charted value may lag behind current sales rank by several hours, and that sales rank itself may lag several hours behind customer purchase.
NovelRank itself provides estimates of sales, based on sales rank history. You can access this service with the “See More” button next to S.R.E.’s Rank Tracking display. Please note, though, that these sales figures come exclusively from NovelRank, not from Sales Rank Express! So, if you have any issue with the figures, please contact NovelRank directly.
Updated Dec. 15, 2014
What are those sales rank categories?
Amazon sales ranks are always positions within a specific category of Amazon products—so if you don’t know the category, the sales rank isn’t all that helpful and may be misleading. Sales Rank Express shows this category under the sales rank in primary results. But it doesn’t receive enough data from Amazon to show it when you use the “Get Versions” or “Get Pairings” buttons. Usually, you can figure it out for yourself—but if not, you can click through to Amazon to find it.
The categories you’ll see on Sales Rank Express are
Books. In the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and China, this is the catch-all category that includes all printed books and many audiobooks, but not Kindle books or Audible Audio Editions.
Domestic Books. In Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan, this is for books published within each of those countries. Amazon itself names the category after the country—for example, “French Books” or “Japanese Books.”
Imported Books. For those countries with a category for domestic books, this is for books imported into the country. Amazon calls this category “English Books"—and mostly they are—but they can be published in any country outside the one where they’re being sold and can be in any language at all.
Kindle/Paid. This includes all Kindle books except freebies. Free Kindle books have their own ranking category, but Amazon does not send out the ranks, so Sales Rank Express cannot report them.
Audiobook Downloads. This includes all Audible Audio Editions—downloadable audiobooks distributed to Amazon by Audible, its own subsidiary.
Updated Oct. 13, 2014
What are all those book formats I can choose?
Sales Rank Express lets you limit your search by specifying a binding or other format. Here’s what you can choose for individual countries (not in this order):
“Any.” This puts no limit at all on your search.
“Kindle.” An ebook formatted for Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader. This option is only for countries in which Amazon sells Kindle books.
“Kindle with Audio/Video.” An “enhanced” Kindle book with audio and/or video embedded.
“Any but Kindle.” Kindle books are omitted. Since Amazon reports alternate versions for books in any format except Kindle Book, this can be a workaround for the omission. This option is only for countries in which Amazon sells Kindle books.
“Paperback—Trade.” A trade paperback is a larger paperback such as you’d commonly find on a bookstore shelf. This is the standard paperback format used by most major publishers as well as most self publishers. (This is what Amazon means when it just says “Paperback.”)
“Paperback—Mass Market.” A mass market paperback is a smaller paperback such as you’d find on a rack in a supermarket or other store that sells convenience books.
“Paperback.” For Sales Rank Express, this includes trade paperback, mass market paperback, and possibly other paperback bindings. But note that it will not include all the more esoteric paperback bindings Amazon might list, like "Spiral-bound." To find those, stick with “Any.”
“Comic.” Generally, the traditional staple-bound comic format, though comics in other bindings may be mistakenly included.
“Hardcover—Trade.” This is how Sales Rank Express refers to the common kind of hardcover you’d find in a bookstore, as opposed to specialty bindings. (Amazon just calls this “Hardcover.”)
“Hardcover—Library Binding.” Sometimes called "school and library binding.” This is a binding designed for rougher use, as preferred by schools and libraries for their children’s books especially. In the past, the term mostly referred to binding strength, but it may nowadays just signify a laminated cover. Books in library binding are sometimes offered by the original publisher, and at other times by third-party rebinders serving schools and libraries. Though the latter practice is time-honored and does profit the original publisher, it may create complications if the rebinder gives the rebound book a new ISBN and/or lists it on Amazon. At least one rebinder has agreed to respect any publisher’s request not to rebind its books.
“Hardcover.” For Sales Rank Express, this includes standard hardcover, library binding, and possibly other hardcover bindings. But note that it will not include all the more esoteric hardcover bindings Amazon might list, such as “Leather Bound.” To find those, stick with “Any.”
“Board Book.” A picture book printed on cardboard for very young children.
“Audiobook—Download.” An audiobook offered for download as an Audible Audio Edition. This option is only for countries in which Amazon sells such editions.
“Audiobook—Player.” An audiobook offered as a preloaded digital audio player.
“Audiobook—CD.” An audiobook offered on audio CD (not CD-ROM). May be in standard audio format or MP3.
“Audiobook—Cassette.” An audiobook offered on audio cassette.
“Unknown Binding.” This brings up listings for which no format has been specified. The omission is common in duplicate listings by third-party sellers. For more on duplicate listings, see below.
Updated Oct. 16, 2014
Why are there so many listed languages?
Amazon allows multiple language entries of various kinds for each book. Some publishers may submit language data in ways that are repetitive, or that are inconsistent with how other publishers submit or with how Amazon intended. Sales Rank Express simply displays this data without trying to amend it.
The language “types” that Amazon accepts from publishers and identifies in its data are:
“Unknown.” In other words, the language is listed without its role being specified. Generally, though, it’s assumed to be the language of the published text. Sales Rank Express simply lists this language without identifying the type.
“Published.” The language of the published text. For a bilingual or multilingual book, more than one published language can and should be listed. Sales Rank Express identifies this language type in parentheses.
“Original Language.” The language in which the work was originally written. This kind of entry is useful for translations. Sales Rank Express identifies the language type in parentheses as “original.”
Most books need only a single language listing—either “unknown” or “published.” But you’ll often see books with all three types submitted, and the same language for each! CreateSpace is a particular offender in this.
As pointless as such multiple listings are, they do no harm to the book on Amazon.
Updated Oct. 19, 2014
What are “pairings,” and why should I care?
Amazon tries to pair each title with similar titles, mostly by seeing which books are bought most often by the same customers. These pairings are then presented to customers in various ways to encourage additional purchases.
The most direct of these ways is the “Also Bought” display that appears on the page for most books. Amazon uses these same pairings or variations of them for “Frequently Bought Together” titles and also for exit offers, showing them to customers who have just placed a book in their shopping cart. The pairings are also used in email solicitations sent to purchasers of particular books.
The results page of Sales Rank Express shows you the top paired title for each book. It also provides a “Get Pairings” button as a quick, easy way to get info on the top ten paired titles for a particular book. This fuller listing can help you in several ways.
First, it can help you check on your competitors—because that’s really what the paired titles are, from an author’s or publisher’s point of view. In particular, keep an eye on their Amazon sales ranks in relation to yours. That will show you how your book is faring compared to others in its field—and it will also help you avoid worrying about variations in rank that have little to do with your own book. While sales rank may fluctuate widely, the sales ranks of books related in subject tend to rise or fall together. So, if your Amazon sales rank is slumping but so are your competitors’, you have less to worry about. On the other hand, if your sales rank is slumping while your competitors’ are rising, you might have a problem!
“Get Pairings” can also help you evaluate the marketing strength of your book. It does this by allowing “chaining”—one of the most powerful features of Sales Rank Express. For instance, you can start by getting the pairings for your book. You can then get the pairings for each of those books. Do you see your own book on the list of one of those others? How high is it? Has it risen or fallen since the last time you checked? The more such pairings you see, and the higher they are, the stronger your book’s position on Amazon.
Finally, “Get Pairings” can help you analyze trends in Amazon policy and practice. For instance, in the summer of 2006, Amazon made changes in its formulas for pairing that seemed to favor books sold to Amazon on better terms, as well as books with higher list prices. This discrimination—possibly from nothing more than a programming error—grew gradually stronger but was then removed at the beginning of 2007. Sales Rank Express, by making it easy to check pairing positions of particular titles, proved helpful in documenting the rise and fall of the effects. Some of this info was presented to Amazon and may even have helped encourage the problem’s resolution.
Updated Dec. 7, 2009
What exactly are “linked versions”?
“Versions” is a loose term that includes bindings, media, simultaneous editions, or anything else that can distinguish publications of the same title. If Amazon recognizes the connection between the versions—either through automatic analysis or because it’s been told—it links them in its catalog. That means features like book descriptions and Customer Reviews will carry over from one version to another. It also generally means that only one or some of the versions will appear directly in search results, with links to others.
S.R.E.’s results page gives you a quick list of all linked versions for each title. In many cases, Sales Rank Express displays more linked versions than Amazon itself will show you. Unfortunately, because of limited data from Amazon, this list can describe the versions only by format, not also by edition. Also, no linked versions are reported for audiobook downloads.
You can get more info on up to ten linked versions at a time with the “Get Versions” buttons. This makes it much easier to check for the title’s range of Amazon sales rank, look for errors, notice missing elements, or even turn up an unauthorized edition, or an extraneous listing from an outside vendor.
If you don’t see linked versions you know should be there, you can request the links by contacting Author Central or the Books Catalog Department.
Updated Oct. 4, 2014
What are all those foreign words in the results?
Some of the info from the non-English-language sites is reported in the language of that site. For the most common terms, Sales Rank Express will provide a translation in parentheses—but you might also want these and other translations for reference.
You’ll find some useful ones below. Note that some “translations” are actually “equivalents,” since Amazon may not use exactly the same term in each language.
Here are some of the more common kinds of binding.
Spanish: Tapa dura
Italian: Copertina rigida
German: Gebundene Ausgabe
Chinese, Simplified: 精装
Library binding, School & library binding
Spanish: Encuadernación de biblioteca, Encuadernación de escuela y biblioteca
French: Belle reliure
Italian: Rilegatura all’americana, Rilegatura scuola e libreria
Chinese, Simplified: 图书馆装订, 学校和图书馆装订
Spanish: Libro de cartón
Chinese, Simplified: 木板书
Spanish: Tapa Blanda
Italian: Brossura or Copertina flessibile
Chinese, Simplified: 平装
Mass market paperback
Spanish: Tapa blanda de gran consumo
Italian: No equivalent
German: Klebebindung, Broschiert
Chinese, Simplified: 简装
Chinese, Simplified: 漫画
Preloaded digital audio player
Spanish: Reproductor de audio digital precargado
French: Lecteur digital à contenu audio pré-chargé
Italian: Lettore audio digitale precaricato
German: Vorbespielter Audioplayer
Chinese, Simplified: 合式录音带
Here are some of the more common kinds of contributor.
Chinese, Simplified: 作者
Chinese, Simplified: 插图作者
French: Sous la direction de
Chinese, Simplified: 编者
Chinese, Simplified: 译者
Italian: Narratore, Lettore
German: Sprecher, Erzähler
Chinese, Simplified: 朗诵者, 表演者
Here are some common languages.
Here are several terms from availability listings.
Spanish: En stock
French: En stock
Italian: Disponibilità immediata
German: Auf Lager
Chinese, Simplified: 现在有货
Chinese, Simplified: 个月
Chinese, Simplified: 周内
Chinese, Simplified: 日内
French: Heures (h)
Chinese, Simplified: 小时
French: Minutes (min)
Chinese, Simplified: 分钟
Not yet published
Spanish: No se ha publicado todavía
French: À paraître
Italian: Non ancora pubblicato
German: Noch nicht erschienen
Chinese, Simplified: 尚未发售
Temporarily out of stock
Spanish: Temporalmente agotado
French: Temporairement en rupture de stock
Italian: Temporaneamente non disponibile
German: Derzeit nicht auf Lager
Chinese, Simplified: 目前无货
Chinese, Simplified: 很快到货
For additional translations try Google Translate at translate.google.com, the translation widget in Mac OS X, or another tool. Aiming at Amazon 2.0 or later includes translated phrases to help navigate Amazon’s online forms.
Updated Oct. 19, 2014
What happened to the S.R.E. Web Widget?
Due to new limits and requirements by Amazon, the Web Widget has been discontinued.
Updated October 28, 2011
How do I supply cover images?
That depends on your situation. In the U.S., if no image has appeared yet, you can submit one through Author Central. Otherwise, the simplest and most reliable route is to upload your images through the Web form made available by Amazon Advantage. You must sign up with Advantage to use this, but you do not need to sign up any of your books, including the one represented by your image. Other ways to submit images are described in Aiming at Amazon 2.0 or later and POD for Profit.
Updated Nov. 11, 2010
Can this help me with duplicate listings?
Duplicate listings on Amazon are created mostly by third-party sellers who are too lazy to search out and use authorized listings or who hope to profit by misleading customers. Amazon now actively discourages such listings, but the problem has yet to be resolved. It is seen most commonly on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
Such listings are generally more annoying than harmful, since Amazon’s mechanisms give them low priority and they seldom result in a sale. Still, they have the potential to confuse, mislead, and defraud, since your book may appear to be out of print and available only at an inflated price, if at all.
Duplicate listings may well show up during normal searches on Amazon or in Sales Rank Express. But others may not be so easy to spot, since they tend to appear lower down in search results, and because the listers usually omit, move, or mangle key metadata. For instance, if you are searching on author name in Sales Rank Express, you will miss a duplicate listing that lacks author metadata.
Still, certain tricks can help you quickly hunt down such listings in Sales Rank Express. Here are a few of the most useful:
Select “Unknown Binding” from the pull-down Format menu. Duplicate listings often omit format metadata or move it to the title field, where Amazon and Sales Rank Express don’t look for it.
Enter your author name in S.R.E.’s Title box instead of its Author box. Duplicate listers often move or copy it there.
When searching on title, enter only a minimum number of key words, and only ones easily spelled. Duplicate listings often include careless errors and omissions.
Search on comon misspellings of your title and your author name.
Once you’ve found a duplicate listing, you can ask Amazon to “merge” it into the authorized listing, in effect eliminating it. Include in your request the identifying ASIN of both the duplicate and the authorized listing. If you’re the author, then Author Central is the best place to submit this request.
Posted Oct. 19, 2012
Why is my book missing?
First make sure you entered the right info in the right boxes for the right country. Remember that you don’t have to fill in all the boxes, or even fill in any of them completely. Just enter enough to identify what you’re looking for. Make sure you’re seeking books in “Any” format, and that you have not selected “Available Only.” When searching in a non-English-speaking country, make sure you’ve properly selected “Domestic”—books from that country—or “Imported”—books from anywhere else. If you entered an accented letter, try it without the accent. If you’re checking more than ten books at a time, remember that you need to click the “Next Page” link to see the rest.
If a book is missing from results but you know it’s on Amazon, it’s probably because of data at Amazon that’s missing, incorrect, or simply in a different form. For instance, if you check books from “My Publications,” you won’t find any books that Amazon says are from “My Pubns.” Or if you check books from “My Publications Inc.,” you won’t find books that Amazon says are from just “My Publications.”
The first thing to do is to find the book a different way. Generally, if all else fails, you can find it by either 13-digit or 10-digit ISBN, without hyphens. (Remember too that you can use your publisher prefix with a wildcard, as in “9780938497*”.) If the ISBN brings up the book, examine its data for accuracy and consistency. To make corrections, use the “Fix Data” button.
If the book is new and you’re not sure it’s on Amazon, start with those same steps. If you can find it by ISBN but no other way, and the book data is all as it should be, then you probably just need to wait a few days for the book to show up normally. If it doesn’t, report the problem to Amazon, preferably through Author Central.
If the book doesn’t show up even by ISBN, then probably you just haven’t waited long enough for Amazon to list it, or else it’s not being reported to Amazon. Trace the book back through its distribution chain to find where it’s hung up.
Updated Oct. 29, 2011
Why is my book’s sales rank missing?
There are three possible reasons for a missing sales rank.
Your book has not yet sold a copy.
Your Kindle book is being offered for free, and Amazon doesn’t send out sales rank data for such books. (You’ll have to visit Amazon to get the rank.)
There’s a temporary glitch in the data sent by Amazon. If that’s so, you’ll probably see other books affected as well. You can click through to Amazon to see if on-site reporting is also affected.
Updated Oct. 29, 2011
Why “No Data” instead of “No Rank” for Kindle?
In most cases, when Amazon does not report a sales rank to Sales Rank Express, it means the item has yet to make a sale and earn any rank at all—so Sales Rank Express says “No Rank.” But Amazon also withholds sales ranks of all free Kindle books, leaving Sales Rank Express no way to know whether those books have ranks or not.
At the same time, because of sheer programming sloppiness, Amazon fails to provide the info needed to reliably determine which Kindle books are free and which are “paid.” This means a Kindle Book with no reported rank might be either a freebie without a rank, a freebie with a rank, or a paid title without a rank. With no way to be sure, Sales Rank Express can only say “No Data.”
You can find out the true status yourself by clicking through to Amazon—but in most cases, you’ll probably know whether a book you’re looking up is a freebie. If you know it’s not free and you see “No Data,” it’s the same as “No Rank.”
Updated June 12, 2010
Why are my books in the wrong order?
They’re not! But Sales Rank Express relies on Amazon to sort the results sent to you, and unfortunately, Amazon does not offer sorting by sales rank. The nearest it comes is an order that Amazon calls “Bestselling” and that Sales Rank Express calls “Sales.” This is based on a calculation that Amazon makes around twice a week with minor adjustment in between. It may at times show the ranks in order, but you can’t count on that.
Though it would be possible for Sales Rank Express to re-sort the results by sales rank, this could be done only for one page of up to ten matches at a time as Amazon sends it. This would mean that the order would be correct within each page, but not always between pages. Rather than allow this to produce obscure and possibly confusing error, Sales Rank Express sticks to Amazon’s own sort orders.
Updated Oct. 29, 2011
Why is my book labeled “Adult”?
Amazon may internally apply the “Adult” rating to a book that might be sexually offensive to a general audience. You won’t see this rating on Amazon itself, but such books might then be withheld from search results or promotions. So, if the rating has been applied in error, you should try to have it removed.
Other books may be rated “Not Adult,” to indicate they are not sexually offensive. This rating is meant primarily as a safeguard against a book later being rated “Adult” incorrectly. It does not mean the book is considered unsuited for adult readers.
Amazon’s application of these ratings is changeable, inconsistent, and to some extent at the discretion of individual employees. At one point, an employee in the UK applied the “Adult” rating to a large number of gay and lesbian books, including children’s books, regardless of whether their content was explicit. Following a public outcry, the book’s ratings were changed. By contrast, a surprising number of Kindle books and Audible audiobooks are blatantly pornographic without being rated “Adult.”
Nowadays, possibly because of protests against the open sale of obscene books, especially in the UK, nearly all Kindle books and Audible audiobooks receive one rating or the other. By contrast, printed books on Amazon most often have no rating at all.
Updated Oct. 25, 2014
What if it just doesn’t work right?
If Sales Rank Express gives you odd results, here are a few things you can try:
Click your browser’s Refresh button to renew the results page once or twice. (If your browser asks if it’s OK to resend form data or such, say yes.) This will help if there was a hiccup or glitch at Amazon, on the Internet, or at the site of the host company of either Sales Rank Express or its partner, NovelRank.
Return to the main page and click the Refresh button from there. This can help if a file on the S.R.E. site has been updated but your browser is storing an older version.
Close all browser windows and empty out your browser's cache or “temporary files.” You can normally do this with a menu command or through the browser’s options or preferences. Sometimes this is the only way to force your browser to update all S.R.E. files.
In your computer’s “Date & Time” settings, make sure you choose to check or “synchronize” time over the Internet, and if given the option, to automatically adjust for daylight saving. This is necessary for providing an accurate “timestamp” to Amazon with each request for data. A run-down internal computer battery can also cause inaccurate times.
Take a vacation and try again when you get back.
The Amazon sales rank shown on Sales Rank Express should at all times exactly match the sales rank displayed on Amazon itself. It’s possible, though, that the data sent by Amazon could get out of sync with data from other Amazon systems, maybe due to changes in those systems. Nowadays, this is highly unlikely, but it has happened in the past. So, if accuracy is essential, you should verify it by clicking through to Amazon for one or two books in each country of interest to check the sales ranks displayed there. (But make sure you’re not caught by the hourly update, which can create a discrepancy in the sales rank in the few seconds between when you view it in Sales Rank Express and when you check it on Amazon.)
In general, please keep in mind that Sales Rank Express is entirely dependent on Amazon’s Product Advertising API for the supply and accuracy of its data. In other words, if something goes on the blink here, it’s likely to be Amazon that has to fix it!
If you find a persistent problem with Sales Rank Express or with the data it displays, please report it. If it’s new and not a problem with this site, Amazon may be notified. But since Amazon seems no longer concerned with development or proper maintenance of the Product Advertising API, a fix cannot always be expected.
Updated Oct. 29, 2011
How do you get all this info?
Here’s how it all works: The form you fill out on the main page sends a request to S.R.E.’s partner, NovelRank, which in turn sends it to Amazon’s Product Advertising API, telling it what you want to know. That service collects the requested data and sends it to NovelRank, which then fashions a Web page of results using instructions from Sales Rank Express and sends it direct to your browser.
Updated Oct. 29, 2011
Do you hold on to my data?
Aside from standard data on Web site traffic, Sales Rank Express collects no info from you at all. In fact, what you enter in the forms never even goes to Sales Rank Express—it goes directly to S.R.E.’s partner, NovelRank, and from there to Amazon. The results then come back through NovelRank and directly to you, entirely bypassing Sales Rank Express.
NovelRank, under agreement with Sales Rank Express, does not retain any of the data you send to it. As for Amazon, it has no idea what your request is meant for, or how the results will be used—so there’s nothing it can learn from the data, even if it happened to care. Of course, if you follow a link from S.R.E. results to Amazon, then Amazon collects data on you just as from any other customer.
Sales Rank Express does convert your form data to cookies for your browser, storing them there on your own computer. But this is only to adjust and refill forms automatically the next time you view the page. Sales Rank Express never sends this cookie data to its own site or anywhere else.
Updated Oct. 29, 2011
How do you count your visitors?
The visitor count is based on accesses of an S.R.E. stylesheet. Since these accesses normally occur once and only once per browser session, this gives a reasonably accurate estimate of visits, in contrast to counting page views, which would yield an inflated figure. This also excludes visits by search engine spiders, since they ignore external stylesheets.
The count posted on this site is updated manually and occasionally, to avoid the use of automatic counters that may accidentally reset to zero. It’s added up from weekly reports of traffic statistics.
The period of the count is from Jan. 4, 2007, when Sales Rank Express first went online under this name and on this dedicated site.
Updated Oct. 29, 2011
Who is that man behind the curtain?
Sales Rank Express was created and is maintained by Aaron Shepard, author of Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, POD for Profit: More on the NEW Business of Self Publishing (about publishing through Lightning Source), Perfect Pages: Self Publishing with Microsoft Word, and The Business of Writing for Children; and Webmaster of Aaron Shepard’s Publishing Page. It was first developed to meet Aaron’s own need to efficiently check Amazon sales rank and other info on Amazon, and it grew from there.
Updated Oct. 29, 2010