I know better than most that this means pretty much nothing, and yet I still can’t help feeling a bit of a cheap thrill to see something of mine at the top of any chart — even if it’s just amazon’s Hot New Releases in Country Music. Relax and enjoy the ride, I always say. And being higher up than Garth Brooks is always nice…
Posts Tagged With: amazon
October’s an exciting month for me, book-wise, because I have a lot of irons in the fire and books to root for right now. I’ve got my own book out, of course, to go with a pair of just-published titles in the American Music Series I co-edit for University of Texas Press — Chris Morris’ “Los Lobos: Dream in Blue,” and Kristin Hersh’s spectacular “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt.”
Those three books came out via UT Press on Oct. 1. Five days later, my good friend Steve Knopper published his latest book, “MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson” (Scribner). It should come as no surprise tht I’ve been obsessively checking amazon every day to follow the progress of this quartet of books. And while none of them are exactly burning up the charts just yet, they all seem to be off to solid starts. How the sales picture will turn out over the long haul, that’s up to the universe. All we can do is hope for the best.
At the moment, however, the most interesting metric to track is not sales positions but reader reviews, which have become increasingly important for us lowly mid-list types struggling for traction in a crowded marketplace. Get a bunch of reviews, and that might help sales along. Morris’ Los Lobos book is farthest along in that regard, already with eight reviews — all of them with the maximum five-star rating. Nice, very nice.
“Don’t Suck, Don’t Die” has just three reader reviews so far (two of them five-star), but I expect that pace to pick up in a hurry. National Public Radio recently reviewed “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die” and said it is “not only one of the best books of the year, it’s one of the most beautiful rock memoirs ever written.” I thought the same thing when I read the original manuscript, and reviews like that have inspired UT Press to give this one the maximum push — they’re thinking that 50,000 in sales might be possible. Well, on behalf of the entire American Music Series list…I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, Team Benson/Menconi’s “Comin’ Right at Ya” has just a single amazon reader review so far, but at least it’s of the five-star variety. That takes a little of the sting out of the fact that I recently got my first-ever one-star amazon review, for “Losering” — more than three years after its original publication date. A reviewer identified as “Amelia, Austin Texas” called it “A weird book” in a four-sentence dismissal that questioned if I’d ever actually spoken to Ryan Adams (snicker) before concluding, “This book sucks.” A more generous soul would refrain from noting that this particular reviewer has a “helpful” rating of just 38 percent, but I am not that person. So I’ll just say this: Bless her heart.
Still, that’s nothing compared to what’s happened on amazon thus far to Steve’s Michael Jackson book, which is being savaged by hyper-protective Jackson partisans who will not tolerate anything less than 100 percent glowing praise of their hero. So even though “MJ” earned a Booklist starred review that called it “very powerful” as well as an excerpt in Rolling Stone (where Steve has been a contributing editor for many years), four of his six amazon reader reviews are one-star takedowns accusing him of slander and bias.
Steve is one of the most all-around fair-minded people, let alone writers, I’ve ever known. But given what a fraught subject Jackson continues to be, I was afraid something like this might happen, after the amazon-reviewer reception given to 2012’s “Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson” by Steve’s Rolling Stone colleague Randall Sullivan. “Untouchable” drew so many anonymous one-star slams from Jackson partisans who didn’t appear to have even read the book that the New York Times cited it as a prime example of books victimized by orchestrated campaigns of bad amazon reviews as “attack weapons.”
After the attacks subsided, “Untouchtable” eventually picked up enough decent reviews to bump its overall average (for 389 total reviews) up above three stars, which is at least respectable. I hope a similarly kind long-term fate awaits “MJ” — and also success, whatever that means nowadays, for all four of these books.
ADDENDUM (9/17/2016): Well how about that — another of Steve Knopper’s books comes in at No. 44 on a great list to be on.
“Losering” has been out in the world for a couple of years, long enough that checking its Amazon sales ranking ceased being a daily ritual some time ago. But I’ll still look it up on occasion, mostly to see if anybody else has reviewed it (I’m still waiting for a review in Spain, Brazil and France, among other places, y’all). And it will still jump on up the sales list every now and then, too. The other day, in fact, it even hit No. 1 for “Biographies of Country Musicians” on Amazon.UK — nestled, as you can see below, ahead of books about Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson.
Of course, this was short-lived. “Losering” slid on down very quickly and yielded the top spot to Johnny Cash, which seems only right. Still, I think I like this one even better than the book’s other summit appearances, in Canada.
This can’t possibly be right. But according to this online listing, the Bluesite Record Shop in Germany has a vinyl copy of Ryan Adams’ 2002 album Demolition for sale online for the low, low price of — drumroll, please — $439,991.85 (and can I just say that I love the 85 cents tacked onto the end of this?). Now I’m glad to own Demolition, an album I like a lot more than most hardcore fans; but not enough to make it worth quite that much. Maybe Demolition is a lot scarcer in Germany than the U.S., where amazon has used CD copies for one penny.
Like I said, gotta be a glitch.
UPDATE (4/14/2015): One day later and the listed price is lower — but not by much. Now it’s listed for $438,035.53. Hmm…
So a fair quantity of you nice folks out there have taken advantage of my $12 “Losering” holiday special (which is still available!), and for that I thank you. If you’re more inclined to do your shopping on Amazon, they’ve currently (on Friday, Dec. 12, at least) got a deal that’s almost as good as my holiday-special rate — 25 percent off the hard-copy price on any book. That takes their usual $16.55 price on “Losering” down to about $12.41, which is even less than the $13.37 price of buying it directly from the publisher. As noted in the “Special Offers and Product Promotions” part at the bottom of this illustration on the right, the promo code to use is BOOKDEAL25.
So check it out. And while you’re at it, it would also be worth using that discount to pick up this book right here. Meantime, I hope everyone out there is having a wonderful Christmas time this year.
This weekend marks the official start of another holiday shopping season, with all the madness and forced merriment that implies. It’s the season when you’ll see gift guides all over the place, including my contribution to the Sunday News & Observer (music suggestions at the bottom are mine). It would be a fine idea to avoid going anywhere your local shopping mall, and I’m here to help with a gift you can procure without even leaving the house: Another “Losering” holiday special, which was enough of a hit last year that I’m offering it again this year at an even lower price.
From now until January, you can order copies of “Losering” directly from me for $12, which is $4.55 less than amazon’s current physical-copy price. And in my own personal version of “Amazon Prime,” that 12 bucks includes shipping as long as it’s within the U.S. (think of it as “Losering Prime”). A signature is free, of course, if you want it.
So give me a holler at email@example.com, and I shall be glad to hook you up. Makes a great gift, so buy in bulk!
Meanwhile, happy holidays to you and yours in whatever way, shape or form you mark ’em. God bless us, everyone.
For the first year or so that “Losering” was out, checking my sales ranking on Amazon was a daily (oh, who am I kidding, several times a day, at least) ritual, even though it’s a bad idea. I was finally able to wean myself off of it after the book dropped to ranking consistently below No. 100,000, and I rarely check it anymore. It’s as humblingly low as ever here in the U.S. (yes, I just looked); but today, on a whim, I decided to check it on Amazon Canada for the first time in a while. Lo and behold and lookee here, for whatever reason it’s somehow back up to No. 1 again on the country book list up there, ahead of tomes about Buck Owens, George Jones, Gram Parsons and Loretta Lynn.
As Jim Lauderdale might say, now that’s Americana!
The eponymously titled Ryan Adams will indeed be released Sept. 9 via Blue Note Records, with lead single “Gimme Somthing Good” and 10 other songs as per the track list below, not to mention a cover shot of Ryan himself looking…let’s call it a shade unkempt. It does not appear that the album includes the single’s “Aching For More” B-side (which has a cameo from none other than Johnny Depp — ah, synchronicity!), so you’ll have to buy the seven-inch for that. The album is available for pre-order on amazon right now.
1. Gimme Something Good
4. Am I Safe
5. My Wrecking Ball
6. Stay With Me
8. Feels Like Fire
9. I Just Might
10. Tired Of Giving Up
11. Let Go
Since “Losering” came out last fall, I’ve had great fun keeping up with it on Amazon.com here and elsewhere. That’s not to say it’s been a best-seller, of course. While the book has sold pretty well, its best U.S. Amazon showing to date is a modest No. 3,162 — enough to keep the American Music Series in business, even if it’s not going to contribute significantly to my retirement.
But probably just to keep fools like me paying attention, Amazon also runs “specialty” charts breaking it down into various categories such as music biograpies, rock, country and so on. That 3,162 was good enough to get “Losering” up to No. 4 in Amazon’s “Country” category, where it briefly lodged as high as No. 2 a few months ago (denied the top spot by Willie Nelson’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” dagnabbit).
While “Losering”‘s Amazon ranking has since descended a good bit in America, it seems to be doing well on Amazon Canada — where I am happy to report that it hit the top of, if not the poppermost, the “Country” and “Bluegrass” rankings. Yee haw!
Friday afternoon, “Losering” climbed to the summit of both. Not sure what “Motown Anthology” is doing on either chart, but what the hell. Now it’s true that my book was only at No. 5,646 overall, so this is nothing to get too excited about. Still, a pretty cool thing to see. Cheap thrills are still thrills in my book.
Come summer, I figure I’m all set to start playing state fairs and bluegrass festivals up there…
Used to be you’d send a book out into the world and very possibly never see or hear a trace of it again. Sure, you hoped it would eventually wind up in far-away places, somewhere across the ocean. For all you knew, maybe it did. But there was very little chance you’d ever see any evidence of that.
In these days of online miracle and wonder, however, you can track such things with ease. In addition to hearing from an overseas reader or two, I’ve run across “Losering” reviews written in Dutch and Swedish. It’s also in at least one library in Italy; and it recently got as high as No. 3 on amazon.uk’s listing of bluegrass books in England (um, bluegrass?…Really?…).
This I love most of all: “Losering” is even available in China, where it can be had on amazon.cn for the sum of “￥123” (which Mr. Mike Quinlan tells me is China’s Yuan currency, 123 of which come to $19.78). Check it out below. I was hoping that 作者 was my name in the “Simplified Han” dialect; but according to Google Translate, that just means “author.” Oh well.
ADDENDA: My pal Stacy informs me that “Losering” can also be found on amazon Japan, where the paperback version sells for 1,513 Yen (about $17). I’ve added the screengrab below.