The lack of visibility over which digital books are selling and in what kind of volume is likely to become one of the key issues of 2011. Nielsen BookScan knows this, and so does the New York Times. Both intend to launch digital bestseller charts, the NYT will publish ebook fiction and non-fiction lists beginning early 2011, while the president of Nielsen Book Jonathan Nowell told The Bookseller in July that its e-book bestseller chart was "a matter of months rather than years".

Of course, thanks to BookScan and its growing worldwide presence, the book trade has been spoilt for accurate and timely data, though it is in fact a relatively recent occurrence. When I first joined The Bookseller BookScan was still in its infancy and I still remember the distraught conversations we had with publishers when they got accurate sales data for the titles that were selling (or not) for the first time. Before that publishers sent titles out far and wide, and waited to hear back. Thus we would say your book has sold 2,000 copies, and the reply would be, but we have sold 50,000 in. It just seems bizarre now.

But digital is taking us back to those days. As e-book sales grow, so the market has become increasingly opaque. Amazon's figures are a master-piece in self-interested obfuscation, and I've seen nothing from Apple, or Sony that suggests they are likely to have a damascene conversion to openness anytime soon.

So, it was left to The Bookseller's charts guru to come up with a viable bestsellers list for the launch of our new weekly digital email today. We do not, of course, claim that the chart has the rigour of a Nielsen chart: in a way we have gone back to how The Bookseller's charts were compiled before BookScan, making up a list based on what we can see selling well, and refining it with our industry knowledge. We have used a points-based system based on e-tailer chart positions and estimated e-tailer market shares. For consistency purposes, we will compile the chart at the same time each week.

We hope you find it useful as we await a suitable replacement. Feel free to comment below if  you think we have got it wrong.

E-Bookseller Bestsellers Week ending 20th November
Pos Title Author
1 One Day David Nicholls
2 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Stieg Larsson
3 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest    Stieg Larsson
4 The Girl Who Played with Fire Stieg Larsson
5 Worth Dying For Lee Child
6 Life Keith Richards
7 Once Bitten Stephen Leather
8 Port Mortuary Patricia Cornwell
9 Kill & Cure Stephen Davison
10 The Confession John Grisham
11 The Last 10 Seconds Simon Kernick
12 The Basement Stephen Leather
13 Sister Rosamund Lipton
14 An Idiot Abroad Karl Pilkington
15 The Redbreast Jo Nesbo
16 The Snowman Jo Nesbo
17 The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
18 The Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett
19 Moab is My Washpot Stephen Fry
20 The Lost Symbol Dan Brown



Stephen Fry

It's certainly interesting that Moab Is My Washpot (£2.69 on the Kindle) is far outselling The Fry Chronicles (£12.99, hardback selling for £8.20)! What does that say about the agency model? If publishers are going to set the ebook prices, they have to get the basics right!

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