What is Sales Rank Express?
Sales Rank Express is an Amazon sales rank checker, book monitor, and market research tool for authors, publishers, and other book creators and marketers.
As a sales rank checker, Sales Rank Express is designed for quick, up-to-the-minute checking of Amazon sales rank (or ranking) in either the US or UK, and also offers short-term tracking—recording of sales rank history. Though longer-term tracking is offered by other services—including the Sales Info tab of Amazon.com’s Author Central—Sales Rank Express is extremely efficient for quick checking of multiple books and also shows much more than sales ranks. It is unequalled at providing an up-to-the-second snapshot of the status and standing of both your books and your competitors’. 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 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 sales of advertised books 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 bulletin to receive notice of alterations, issues, and enhancements.
Updated Jan. 19, 2019
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 UK by clicking or tapping its tab 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.) It doesn’t matter if you type capital letters or lower-case.
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. Unlike with titles and authors, the name you enter must be the complete, exact name that appears on Amazon (except for capital and lower-case letters). If there’s any difference, you’ll get no results! For this reason, it’s often best to skip this box unless you’re sure of the full name on Amazon—and also sure it always appears that way. (You might be able to get around this, though, by entering a partial name and an asterisk wild card.)
Title/Series. The title, the series name, or any words from them. 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 most words or numbers 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, “978162035*” in this box would give you all print books from Shepard Publications, including the ones that Amazon lists under “Shepard Pubns” or the imprints Skyhook Press, Simple Productions, or Shepard & Piper.
Below the text boxes are a collection of buttons to make text entry faster and more convenient:
“DELETE ALL.” This clears all text entries from the form so you can start fresh. Menu choices and other settings are not affected.
“Save” and “Recall.” These sets of buttons let you save your text 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 text entries. Menu choices and other settings are not included. To clear a Recall button, simply clear all entries and Save.
Next come 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 Books 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.
View options. Sales Rank Express offers three distinct views for search results: Standard, Lite, and Mini. These differ in the amount of data they display and in the speed of retrieval, allowing you to tailor the results pages to your device, connection speed, and immediate needs. For details, see below.
The form finishes with a launch button:
“GET AMAZON SALES RANKS!” This tells Sales Rank Express to go check Amazon sales ranks and other info. Note that you don’t actually have to click or tap 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 or Go on your keyboard to start the process.
Sales Rank Express uses “cookies” placed on your own computer to remember the text you enter and selections not specific to a country. This saves you from starting over, the next time you view the page.
Updated Feb. 9, 2017
What are S.R.E.’s view options?
Your last decision on the S.R.E. search form is a choice of view options for results. Sales Rank Express offers three views.
Standard. This view, the default, gives you all the info that Sales Rank Express can offer. It is especially suited to desktop and laptop computers.
Lite. This view omits two special features—tracking charts and review stats. These features can significantly slow down Sales Rank Express, so you might choose this view if you’re on a slow connection or an older device. It’s especially suited to tablets.
Mini. This view, the fastest and most compact, leaves only enough data for rank checking. It’s especially suited to smartphones.
Though each view is optimal on a certain kind of device, any view can be chosen for any device. You can even use Standard view on a smartphone—especially when rotated to landscape mode—if you accept the extra scrolling and the slower performance.
Updated Jan. 19, 2019
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 page, previous page, and home page. The Previous button is set up to duplicate the browser’s Back button, but some browsers may handle it a bit differently. You can experiment to find out which of the two you prefer.
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 June 6, 2015
What does this show me about each book?
Sales Rank Express offers more data on your books than any other Amazon sales rank tracker or checker. Here’s what can be shown for each book on the results page. (Where elements appear may change according to the width of your screen.)
Sales Rank panel. This is where you’ll find both the book’s sales rank and the name of the category within which the rank is assigned. See below for much more about Amazon sales rank and sales rank categories.
The Sales Rank panel also includes the book’s cover image, or else an alert that Amazon has no cover image for the book at all. Clicking on the image sends you to the book’s page on Amazon.
Note that this is the only panel that appears in all three views of Sales Rank Express.
Book Details panel. Here you’ll find a wide variety of data in compact form. This panel appears in both Standard and Lite views.
The first four rows in this panel 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 content rating, if any. This can be Adult—in the sense of having potentially offensive sexual content—or Safe (literally “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. If your book is published through Kindle Direct Publishing, the correction should be made there. Otherwise, you can try requesting the change at Author Central, or with the link Amazon provides on product pages to “Report incorrect product information.”
Next are two rows describing the offers for the book from 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 on Amazon, it should include
“List” price. This is the publisher’s suggested retail price, as you’d normally see on the book cover of a print book. For books imported into the various countries, this is normally translated to native currency.
The price of the featured offer, in native currency. This is the price that appears in the “Buy Box” at top right of the book detail page. Usually, it’s Amazon’s own price. But if Amazon isn’t selling the book itself—or if it’s not, in its own judgment, providing the best offer in terms of price and/or availability—it may feature the offer of a Marketplace seller instead. (For details, see below.)
Percentage discount, if any, that the featured offer gives the customer, plus the actual amount saved—or the percentage and amount of the surcharge, if the featured price is higher than list.
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 either sell the book itself or feature a Marketplace offer—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.
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. The next row of book details 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.
In the final row of book details, Sales Rank Express lists all of a title’s linked versions, 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 of a book 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 panel. This panel appears in Standard view only.
After activating tracking for an individual book, 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. For one special use of this chart, see below.
Note that the frequency of rank checking varies dynamically, so the last charted value may be several hours behind and differ significantly from the current rank reported by Sales Rank Express.
Review Stats panel. The imported chart in this panel is supplied directly by Amazon. The panel appears only in Standard view. Among other things, it tells you the total number of Customer Reviews and the book’s average customer rating. If the book has no reviews, you’ll see “No Reviews” in place of the chart. Note: If this space is empty, try turning off ad blocking or tracking protection in your browser.
Updated Dec. 28, 2018
What do the buttons do?
Along with each book’s data, Sales Rank Express offers buttons for special action. Buttons may appear in Standard or Lite views but not in Mini.
“Get Pairings.” This button brings you info on Amazon’s top ten pairings for the book. Unfortunately, Amazon stopped supplying these pairings in the same order they appear on the site, so these titles are no longer sorted in any way. For much more about pairings and their importance, see below.
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.
When you look up pairings, Sales Rank Express will not list other versions of the title, or show the “Get Versions” button.
“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 Reviews.” Appears instead as “See Latest” when accompanying a Review Stats chart, as it does in Standard view. This button brings you to an Amazon page with reviews of the book in newer-to-older order, as well as the customer ratings average and reviews total. (The link in the Review Stats chart 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 Sept. 19, 2018
Can I start a search from a link or bookmark?
Yes, Sales Rank Express offers full access to search results via links and bookmarks. To take advantage of this, first search normally from the home page, using the exact data and options you want for your search. Then, after the first results page has completely loaded, bookmark the page or copy the page address from the top of the browser window. (In Safari, you may have to click or tap into the address space before it will show the whole address.) The next time you or anyone else returns via that link or bookmark, Sales Rank Express will run the same search but show updated results.
The page address will remain active for at least a month, and every time it is used, that period will be reset. If unused for longer, you may have to start over. But even if you use it regularly, you should also visit the S.R.E. home page now and then to check for new features and notices.
Updated June 11, 2015
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. While you may come upon rough correlations of average Amazon sales rank to sales, these are subject to changes over time and season, besides varying widely among different countries.
Another thing it is not is a promotional tool. There is no evidence that Amazon manipulates sales rank to promote one book over another. Though Amazon may alter its formula for figuring sales rank, it is still based on sales history, not potential profit.
Amazon sales rank for all books is now updated once an hour. 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 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. Since then, the time has lengthened considerably and may now be closer to eight to ten hours.
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 June 10, 2015
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 Amazon KDP customers or to Amazon Advantage members.
For most books, though, you can get a good idea from S.R.E.’s Rank Tracking chart, as seen in Standard view. 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 latest value may lag behind current sales rank, and that sales rank itself lags behind customer purchase.
Updated Sept. 19, 2018
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.
The categories you’ll see on Sales Rank Express are
Books. This is the catch-all category that includes all printed books plus various kinds of digital books and audiobooks, but not Kindle books or audiobook downloads. In Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan, you’ll see this category further narrowed to books in or not in the native language of each country—for example, the categories for Spain are Spanish Books and Non-Spanish Books.
Kindle Paid Books. 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. These are all Audible Audiobooks—downloadable audiobooks distributed to Amazon by Audible, its own subsidiary.
Updated Nov. 10, 2019
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 Audible Audiobook available for download. This option appears only for countries where 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”. 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? The more such pairings you see, the stronger your book’s position on Amazon.
Updated June 10, 2015
What exactly are “linked versions”?
“Versions” is a loose term that includes different bindings or 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 access makes it much easier to check for the title’s range of Amazon sales ranks, 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 Amazon’s Author Central for that country.
Updated June 10, 2015
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 has said it 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 any 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/Series 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 common 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 most of them completely. Just enter enough to identify what you’re looking for. In fact, the biggest cause of failure to find a book is entering too much data. If you fill in three boxes when only one is needed, you triple the chance of error and mismatched data.
Make sure you’re seeking books in “Any” format, and that you have not selected “Available Books 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.”
In fact, any publisher name you check, unlike an author name or title, must be the complete name shown on Amazon—“My Publications,” not just “My”—though you might be able to get around this with an asterisk wildcard. Also, if you published through CreateSpace or Amazon KDP without submitting your publisher or imprint name, then Amazon won’t have it, and searching on it in Sales Rank Express will prevent your book from appearing.
If you can’t find a book one way, try another. 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 ISBN prefix with a wildcard, as in “9780938497*”.) If the ISBN brings up the book, examine its data for accuracy and consistency. To make corrections, go to Amazon KDP or Author Central, use one of Amazon’s product-page links to “Report incorrect production information,” or contact your publisher or distributor.
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 rest of the data to become searchable. 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 Sept. 19, 2018
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. Even if a free book has a sales rank, Amazon won’t send it to Sales Rank Express. (You’ll have to visit Amazon to see it.)
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 Sometimes “No Data” instead of “No Rank”?
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.”
“No Data” is also used for all audiobook downloads in countries like Italy where their sales ranks are never reported.
Updated Nov. 10, 2018
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 the Featured price so high or so low?
Usually, the featured offer—the one in the Buy Box at top right of the book page—is from Amazon itself. Unless the publisher has changed the list price since Amazon last ordered, Amazon’s price should be that list price with or without a discount. If there's a discount, Amazon may be matching the price of another online retailer, or it may be trying to sell off copies that haven’t sold well at list price.
But Amazon may instead give the featured spot to a Marketplace seller, if Amazon judges that seller’s offer to be enough superior in price and/or availability. For instance, if Amazon is out of stock of a book and doesn’t know when copies will arrive, it may feature the offer of a Marketplace seller who promises 1–2 day delivery—even if this seller is asking a price much higher than list.
Sometimes a Marketplace seller may gain the featured spot fraudulently. For instance, a seller might offer a used copy but claim that it’s new. If the asked price is low enough, Amazon may feature this seller’s offer instead of its own—even though everyone but the seller loses from the deal.
Updated Nov. 28, 2018
Why is my book labeled “Adult”?
Amazon may internally apply the Adult content rating to a book that might be sexually offensive to a general audience. This rating is never shown on Amazon itself, but such books might then be withheld from search results or promotions. So, if that rating shows in Sales Rank Express and you believe Amazon has applied it in error, you should try to have Amazon remove it.
Other books may be rated Safe to indicate they are not sexually offensive. This rating is meant primarily as a safeguard against a book later being rated Adult incorrectly. (“Safe” is actually S.R.E.’s substitute term for Amazon’s “Not Adult,” which is more likely to be misunderstood.)
Amazon’s application of these content ratings is changeable, inconsistent, and to some extent at the discretion of individual employees. At one point, an Amazon 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 books’ 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 content rating or the other. By contrast, printed books on Amazon most often have no content rating at all.
Updated May 24, 2015
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 Sales Rank Express.
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 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.
If a search brings up a completely blank page—no results, no title, nothing but white—check your network.
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. So, if accuracy is essential, you should verify the rank 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. But since Amazon seems no longer concerned with development or proper maintenance of the Product Advertising API, a fix for a problem there is unlikely.
Updated Sept. 19, 2018
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 Amazon’s Product Advertising API, telling it what you want to know. That service collects the requested data and sends it back to Sales Rank Express, which then fashions a Web page from the results and sends it direct to your browser.
Updated Sept. 19, 2018
Do you hold on to my data or track me?
Aside from normal logging of Web site traffic, Sales Rank Express records and stores only enough information for the operation of the service. Specifically:
Your form entries and selections are stored in “cookies” on your own computer so that, when you return to the form, everything will show up as you left it. The stored information is replaced as you run new searches. It is available only to you and others using your computer.
Your search—the search itself, not the results—is recorded and stored at Sales Rank Express so you can return to specific pages, either with bookmarks or with navigation buttons. (Without this, S.R.E.’s cobbled results pages cause navigation problems in various browsers.) This information is kept at least a month. It is available to you and to others with whom you share the page URL.
When you activate tracking of an item, Sales Rank Express logs the added item and starts keeping a record of up to a week of its sales ranks to produce the Rank Tracking chart. This chart is available to anyone who runs a search that includes that item in results.
None of this stored information is associated with you personally. None of it is used by Sales Rank Express for marketing. None of it is shared by Sales Rank Express outside of the service itself. No data is ever sold to anyone.
Amazon can learn nothing solely from the data request sent to it, because it has no idea what your request is meant for, or how the results will be used. But Amazon does deposit a number of tracking cookies on your computer when you view its Review Stats chart, included in S.R.E.’s Standard view. Likewise, cookies may be deposited by Google when you view Rank Tracking charts, since they’re constructed from S.R.E. data by Google Charts. Unfortunately, Sales Rank Express has no way to block these deposits by Amazon or Google while displaying their charts.
If you have any direct dealings with Amazon or Google, you probably don’t want to completely block cookies from either of them—but you can still block the cookies they deposit through Sales Rank Express. The best way is to change your browser settings to refuse “third-party” cookies. In fact, this is a good idea in general, to prevent tracking by advertisers on sites you visit. Or you can omit the offered charts by choosing S.R.E.’s Lite or Mini view. You can also visit Sales Rank Express in a private browsing window, so that cookies are wiped out when you close the window.
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.
Updated Oct. 19, 2018
Who is that man behind the curtain?
Sales Rank Express was created and is maintained by Aaron Shepard, Webmaster of Aaron Shepard’s Publishing Page and author of a number of influential books on Kindle and POD publishing, among others. 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 June 10, 2015