We asked while reviewing a book a while back whether or not people would be interested in buying books meant to tell them how to buy and/or upgrade their PC.
Recently, it dawned on me that a pretty good way to find out was to use Amazon.com’s sales rank to see how well such books fared.
Well, this is what we found out (rankings as of March 2, 2002).
#85: Poor Leo’s 2002 Computer Almanac by Leo Laporte (November 2001)– “Poor Leo” hosts “The Screen Savers” for TechTV.
#432: Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 13th Edition by Scott Mueller (August 2001)
#2,054: TechTV Microsoft(R) Windows XP for Home Users by Jim Louderback (October 2001)
#2,552: TechTV’s Technology Survival Guide by Lorna Gentry (October 2001)
#5,241: PC Technician Black Book: The PC Technician’s Secret Weapon
by Ron Gilster (May 2001)
#6,697: TechTV’s Upgrading Your PC by Mark Edward Soper (August 2001)
#7,220: Tom’s Hardware Guide: High Performance PC Secrets by Tom Pabst, et al. (August 1998).
#7,939: The Complete PC Upgrade & Maintenance Guide, 12th Ed. by Mark Minasi (August 2001)
#8,849: Building a PC for Dummies (Building a PC for Dummies, 3rd Ed) by Mark L. Chambers (October 2000)
#10,325: TechTV’s Digital Camera and Imaging Guide by Les Freed (November 2001)
#42,358: The AnandTech Guide to PC Gaming Hardware
by Anand Lal Shimpi (November 2001)
#89,795: Peter Norton’s Complete Guide to PC Upgrades
by Peter Norton, Michael Desmond (January 1999)
#98,999: Absolute Beginner’s Guide to PC Upgrades
by Timothy-James Lee, Lee Hudspeth (November 2000)
What Does This Mean?
This means some things help, but not always.
TV Helps, But Not Always: Obviously, Mr. Laponte is doing rather well due to his TV exposure, but you can see that just plastering a name like “TechTV” doesn’t guarantee a whole lot of sales.
Having A “Name” Helps, But Not Always Mr. Mueller has slowly built up a reputation over the years (takes a while to get up to a 13th edition). After poking around the Web a bit, the comments about his books are consistently favorable, and this positive word-of-mouth is probably the main reason why the book does well.
On the other hand, Peter Norton has been writing about PCs as long as they’ve been around, but his books (including those released more recently than his upgrade book), don’t do so well (his WindowsXP book comes in around #13,000).
Being Current Helps, But Not Always Not surprisingly, these books don’t age well. Generally, the older the book is, the less well it does, but the Tom’s Hardware book does amazingly well for a book that is three-and-a-half years old.
A Website Presence Helps, But Not Always Two major computer hardware websites are mentioned here, but the order in sales ranking is the opposite of what you would normally think.
Makes you scratch your head a bit.