Amazon’s Top 10

There’s something faintly ridiculous about publishing a “Top 10 of 2009” when November has only just started, but lots of people are doing so. Amazon’s list is particularly interesting. The editors’ picks list is full of books that I really enjoyed, or very much want to read. Here are a few thoughts.

I’m delighted for Cat Valente and Caitlin R Kiernan. Palimpsest and The Red Tree are both excellent books. I’m also very pleased to see Yellow Blue Tibia get on the list.

I am, of course, mystified by the absence of The City & The City.

I’m less mystified by the absence of Finch. I suspect that Jeff VanderMeer contributed to compiling the list, which would have made it difficult to include one of his books.

I note that the list of top selling books bears no relationship whatsoever to the list of editors’ picks. Kudos to Patty Briggs for getting two books in the best seller list.

Two of the editors’ picks books are from small presses, but none of the best sellers are.

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7 Responses to Amazon’s Top 10

  1. Joe Sherry says:

    The weird thing about The City & The City off the SFF list is that it IS on the overall Top 10.

    My guess is that the editors don’t want a book on two lists…because that removes one slot of sales potential for a different volume.

  2. Cheryl says:

    Ah, it has been elevated out of genre, has it?

  3. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Nope, not at all. The Amazon editors liked City & The City very much. I didn’t dislike it but didn’t think it was anywhere near one of the top 10 novels of the year. So it worked out nicely that my opinion didn’t hurt China on the overall list. And I did indeed pick the full top 10 list, and I am not eligible for any Amazon lists due to my work for them.



  4. Rose Fox says:

    Dunno about Amazon, but over at PW I’m editing reviews of January and February books right now. We can do our best-of-2009 lists because we work from ARCs.

  5. Cheryl says:


    Thanks for the clarification. Finch is going to be in my top 10.

  6. Cheryl says:


    Understood, but Amazon is in the business of selling books. There’s no point in them publishing a top 10 that includes books you can’t buy, and it seems to me that would discourage them from including November and December books. They might put up one you can pre-order, but if I was running their sales team I’d be unhappy about that unless it was a really big name.

  7. jeffvandermeer says:

    Cheryl: I see Rose’s point but it is also impossible to be completely systematic too unless given more time, and early lists very much hurt late books, though probably not in PW’s case. But very much otherwise. I do wish Amazon would ask for the lists later even though I get ARCs. I imagine my best of year list for Locus will be somewhat different because it’s not due until February–and in that context I would mention China.

    I am regretful that Ann’s efforts chained to mine aren’t eligible. And I appreciate that re Finch.

    I think Amazon’s system is good in that the top 100 is the result of input from all editors and bloggers there and individual lists like comics and sf/f by a single person, thus creating variety. But I do think in a couple of years I will think about having “guests” do it at times so it’s not just my tastes reflected.

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