Saturday, November 5, 2011

Book Geography

Amazon’s Author Central is a program authors can join in order to learn more about the book business and see market responses to their specific products.

In my educational publishing job, I had access to a sales database. Every morning I logged on, first thing, to view “the numbers.” I loved the numbers. Author Central now fills that void by providing sales information about the paperback and Kindle versions of It Started with Dracula: The Count, My Mother, and Me.

Near the top of the Sales Info page is a map of the United States with shaded areas reflecting pockets of book sales. To the right of the map is a list of cities where my book has sold. For each city the program lists the number of books sold there.
“Denver, Colorado,” I read this morning, and realized: That’s Janice.
Baltimore, Maryland: That’s Carol. Hartford, Connecticut: Rachel. Philadelphia? Susan. Two books, so Susan and a friend. Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek: Anita? Indianapolis, Indiana: My cousin, Karen? Atlanta, Georgia: My son, Greg, and his wife, Amy; Amy’s sister, Jen. Charleston-Huntington, West Virginia: The signing last month at Taylor Books. Jacksonville, Florida: Beverley?
Cincinnati, Ohio, has the darkest shading for the most books sold. That makes sense; it’s where I live.
The U.S. map of sales isn’t the only feature of Amazon’s program, so look for more about Author Central in a future blog. “The numbers” are shown in several different ways. I still love the numbers, but nothing beats the place map that became a people map today as I saw my friends within its jagged outlines and—even if some of it was guessing—learned to read that list of cities in a brand, new way.

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