The good, the bad and the darn right obscure

Anyone who reads these posts regularly will know I am somewhat obsessed with data on the book buying habits of Australians. My obsession is fuelled by the fact that American and British readers and writers get regular public feedback on varying kinds of genres (fiction, non-fiction, biography, romance, crime, sci-fi, etc) and more often than not, at least a smattering of sales data to go with it.

The good news – Books+Publishing has started printing Australia’s full weekly top 10 and fastest moving titles instead of just commenting on or two random titles. Their information comes from Nielsen and we now know that there data comes from 1,000 retailers nationwide.

The bad news – there are still no figures attached.

The darn right obscure – Publishers Weekly (PW) in the US has started publishing a weekly chart of the top ten bestsellers in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, also based on Nielsen data. Nielsen is, after all, a global company. But guess what? The two top ten lists do NOT match. There are only four books common to both lists and only one in the same position – Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare at #2. The other common titles are The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet (Michael Mosley); All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr); and The Road to Ruin (Niki Savva).Both lists also include fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. However,  a further difference is that the PW list gives a year-to-date sales figure.

You can compare the two lists here:Top Ten comparison

If you can make sense of the differences, or have any insights about how bestseller lists are compiled, we’d love to hear from you.



Leave a comment


  1. Great post Imelda! I’ll be checking out the Publishers’ Weekly site!

  2. Thanks, Laura. Pretty weird that the two top ten lists don’t match!

  3. Bronwyn Jameson

     /  May 21, 2016

    The PW list ranking matches YTD numbers ranking – maybe this isn’t a “this week’s sales” listing despite the heading indicating it is?

    • That’s an interesting insight Bronwyn. Thanks. That certainly helps make sense of the differences. The Aus list is new for them so perhaps it still needs some fine-tuning.


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