That’s so weird! Looking over recent logs since enabling every international Amazon domain for sales rank tracking, I have a built in check to make sure that sales rank was actually updated that hour. Amazon isn’t perfect, and they don’t always update sales rank information every hour. The funny thing is, whenever Amazon.com has no new updates that hour, Amazon.ca (Canada) also has no updates. These are the only two that seem to work in tandem, and also are the most frequently behind in their updates.
On any given day, Amazon.com and Amazon.ca fail to update their rankings 8 times in a 24 hour period! That’s 33% of the time where the hour is skipped! In contrast, all of Amazon’s other domains miss about 1 update in any given 24 hour period (4% of the time). Granted, Amazon.com has the largest selection and also includes the entire Kindle Edition book inventory, so there is a lot of processing to do. However, Amazon probably has a notably greater amount of resources dedicated to Amazon.com. So what’s the deal with Amazon.ca?
I’m not an expert on Amazon’s history, but my guess is that Amazon.ca was an easy extension of Amazon.com, and prior to them launching ‘across the pond’, the infrastructure was probably very closely linked together because of sheer geographical proximity. Those ties are still seen today it seems. I’m not really complaining… well, I am a little, because 33% is pretty poor, but it was interesting enough I had to mention it. Anyone else have a theory why Amazon Canada would have its core sales rank info inexorably linked to the primary Amazon.com?
Let’s be clear, a sale on .ca does not mean a sale on .com, they are completely independent of each other. The ranks move separately (the actual numbers), but when they are updated by Amazon is absolutely linked.
NovelRank has been over 140 hours of my time over the last 3 months, and as of last weekend, it has been soft launched to the public with the addition of the TRACK page: The ability to add a book to NovelRank for tracking of your book’s Amazon Sales Rank. You do have to know your Amazon link (or ASIN), but it does the rest from there, automatically adding the book (if it is available and reporting a Sales Rank) for Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.ca. It even has custom error generation and of course logging so I can track down any obscure problems (like the valid book format of ‘Imitation Leather’).
Now, this isn’t a search on Amazon, so it can’t find your book for you, then allow you to add it. I don’t expect that will be difficult to create (I know it won’t), but it hasn’t been written yet. That addition will happen before the end of the year, but the more critical ability (adding the book itself) took precedent. Secondarily, Amazon.ca tracking has been disabled until a rewrite of the code that connects to Amazon’s Product Advertising API and gets the Sales Rank data. I hope to accomplish that this weekend and start tracking Amazon.ca again.
Finally, while the Sales estimator has been doing some great work for books with a Sales Rank above 1000, it severely underestimates books that dip below this threshold. With some feedback from Peter Seibel, author of the very popular “Coders At Work“, I look to be improving this accuracy in the near future (maybe this weekend, we’ll see). Secondarily, much of the logic was built around Amazon.com results. Turns out that the less popular .co.uk and .ca can sometimes overestimate sales by 1 book. Luckily, that’s a quick fix and will be rectified along with the other improvements. So if your book is selling like hotcakes: 1) Be happy, you’re doing a lot better than most of us, 2) The numbers will be better soon.
Once the above two items (Sales and Amazon.ca Sales Rank) are resolved, this first edition of NovelRank will be officially launched. It’s okay, you can tell your friends on Facebook or Twitter, I don’t mind. :)