Sara Nelson admits that some of her friends penned positive reviews of her book on Amazon as its sales rank slipped. She says the obsession over online booksellers’ rankings is widespread in the industry:
At a publishing party last fall, I met up with a well-known and very successful journalist who kept making trips to the hostâ€™s bedroom to check his (and my) bookâ€™s status on Publishers Marketplace, one of several sites that allow users to track the movement of many books at once at both Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. “Do you want to check one more time before you leave?” he asked me as I headed for the door. (It goes without saying that I did.) In the ensuing months, Iâ€™ve had dozens of friends and acquaintances comment, unsolicited, on my bookâ€™s rise and fall, and one radio interviewer told me heâ€™d decided to invite me on the show because “your Amazon numbers have gotten good again.” It doesnâ€™t matter how many times editors and agents tell us that “Amazon doesnâ€™t matter”â€”authors are addicts, and Amazon is easily as habit-forming and even more accessible than crack. Not to mention, of course, that itâ€™s also free.