Author Topic: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.  (Read 28560 times)  

Offline Maya Cross

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Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« on: May 23, 2013, 06:01:02 PM »
I woke up this morning to find something absolutely crushing. My new book, Lockout, was absolutely killing the B&N charts. For the last 24 hours, it was #5 in their whole store, and on their front page.

I noticed something weird with book one, Locked. Sales for it spiked pretty dramatically when book two came out. It was sitting around #300-400, but it gradually began to rise. Except, once it hit #126, it stopped. And it held that position for over 24 hours. Never moving, never going up or down by even one place, despite the fact that it was moving a ton of books. I have multiple screenshots of it sitting in that exact position, while everything else shifts around it.

Then, sometime during the night, it happened. I woke up just now to find Lockout has gone from #5 in their whole store, to #126. They aren't even being clever about it. Locked is now at #127. They're both just sitting there pinned next to one another. There's no way in hell the book went from #5 to #126 in eight hours organically.

This has annihilated my sales. I could pretty much cry right now. I don't know how to fix it, and even if I do, that epic momentum is gone. I've sent emails, but who the hell knows what the result will be.

EDIT: A link to prove the point:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s?dref=2207&fmt=ebook&size=30&sort=SA&startat=121&store=ebook&view=grid

What do you think the chances are that both books are literally right next to one another in the overall rankings organically?

I have a ton of screenshots of Locked occupying exactly the same position. I also have screenshots from less than 12 hours ago of Lockout at #5 in the store.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 06:08:26 PM by Maya Cross »

Offline S. Shine

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2013, 06:28:47 PM »
This just makes me sad and angry at the same time.  >:( :'(
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Offline H.M. Ward

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2013, 06:32:46 PM »
There are some indies with higher rankings, on the 1st page even. I'm not sure what B&N is doing with their rankings lately. It used to be based on daily sales, then accumulate over 6 months (which was a joke b/c the rank hardly moved). I'm not sure what they're doing now. It took me forever to hit #1 over there. If you message me your daily sales stats, I can tell you if they line up with mine. Based on my last release, I think they drag and use more time to weight the higher rankings, but things keep changing.
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Offline Hugh Howey

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2013, 06:38:01 PM »
This is nuts. I think it's well established that B&N does this.  >:(
 
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Offline Maya Cross

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2013, 06:43:47 PM »
I'm happy to just post the sales figures here. To get it to #5, Lockout sold 2300 books in 3 days. It was selling somewhere between 20 and 80 books an hour before the drop off, depending on time of day. Now? 5 books an hour, at 7pm, which is normally one of the biggest hours.

Like I said, I'm 100% certain this is artificial. The reasons:

1) Locked (the first book) was stuck at #126 for 48 hours. I have screenshots and emails from various time points all indicating that it didn't move from there for ages. At that point I felt like it had been pinned in place.
2) I woke up this morning, Locked = #127, Lockout = #126. So after the first book spends 48 hours at the same exact ranking, what are the chances book two winds up EXACTLY next to it? Even if book two did fall dramatically from #5 in their whole store (unlikely, that kind of drop off is very gradual as the visibility from #5 in the store is huge), what are the chances it would land right next to book one, at exactly the ranking that book one has been stuck for the last two days?

Offline That one girl

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2013, 06:46:59 PM »
You're not alone. I've sold over 400 copies of Pieces of You today on B&N and I'm stuck right behind you at #128. All. Friggin'. Day. :(

Offline That one girl

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2013, 06:49:50 PM »
When I was in the top 20 on B&N with Relentless, I was selling anywhere from 400-700 copies per day. This was in March. I don't think book sales have changed that drastically in the past two months. There is definitely some tampering going on.

Offline MegHarris

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2013, 06:52:31 PM »
Ugh, I'm so sorry. Barnes & Noble sucks sometimes. :(

Offline Maya Cross

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2013, 07:11:14 PM »
You're not alone. I've sold over 400 copies of Pieces of You today on B&N and I'm stuck right behind you at #128. All. Friggin'. Day. :(

I noticed you there actually. I have a ton of screenshots from yesterday that show Locked sitting firmly in place, and now that I go back and look through them, Pieces of You doesn't move either =( There's several titles in a row that just sit there.

I'm flabbergasted that they can do this. I know they have a history of it, but from memory, the books it happened to in the past were more like straight up erotica. The Alpha Group is firmly erotic romance. And while I haven't read either of your books, from what I understand, they're not particularly steamy?

Offline MegHarris

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2013, 07:13:47 PM »
Quote
I'm flabbergasted that they can do this. I know they have a history of it, but from memory, the books it happened to in the past were more like straight up erotica.

No. They did it to one of mine a couple of years ago (wasn't ranked this high; it went from around 120 to 1200, IIRC) and it was an erotic romance. It certainly wasn't tremendously shocking or racy-- none of mine are, alas.

And unfortunately, they CAN do anything they want. It's disturbing that they continue to do it, though. It's unfair to both writers and readers, and it sucks.

Offline Maya Cross

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2013, 07:16:52 PM »
Well, if they want to do it, they're going to have to deal with me spending the next few days making as much noise as I possibly can about it.

Offline H.M. Ward

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2013, 07:18:57 PM »
There's no doubt they're whack. B&N had serious lag when DAMAGED was #1 on Amazon. It took days to hit that top slot on B&N. The top 3 slots were selling about 1.5K-2K books a day when I held it last month. ARRANGEMENT 7 and DAMAGED show about 25 slots apart on B&N right now and the sales difference for today is 7 books. No idea what the heck they're doing.
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Offline Just Browsing

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2013, 07:19:20 PM »
Maya: Please do. I'd take a nice blog guest post from you on it.

Offline That one girl

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2013, 07:21:45 PM »
If you need any help making some noise, I've got my pot and wooden spoon all ready.

Here are my numbers, for your reference:

Pieces of You: 475 units sold (ranked #128)
Relentless: 169 units sold (ranked #132)

Edit: And you are correct, Relentless and Pieces of You are not particularly steamy.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 09:54:04 PM by That one girl »

Offline Decon

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2013, 07:35:08 PM »
Unless things have changed, I seem to remember over a year ago that B&N tweaked their algorithms to stop 99c books getting into the top 100 to boost profits. I seem to remember $2.99 was the cut off. Maybe the one at rank 5 slipped their net and the drop was a readjustment.


I'm really sure this is the case. There were many blog posts at the time and threads about it on here.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 07:38:46 PM by Decon »


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Offline LilianaHart

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2013, 07:35:19 PM »
I had this exact same thing happen to me last week when I had a Bookbub ad with Cade. I sold enough books that day that I should have been in the top 10 at B&N, and like you it wouldn't let me rise past #126. I was stuck at that ranking for 3 days and it totally screwed up my sales push. I figured it was because of my cover, but who knows? I am so sick of this happening, but they don't care and they ignore the complaints. Believe me, I've been in contact with the top people at B&N. they call it a "glitch."  

Offline Maya Cross

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2013, 07:36:57 PM »
Well, I posted on the B&N facebook, and I just contacted Jenny from Totallybooked and she's going to post it. They have 15k followers on Facebook, so that should make some noise. I've mentioned your books there too. It helps prove I'm not just crazy =)

Offline dalya

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2013, 07:40:26 PM »
I see at least 4 books at 99 cents in the top 20, though, so it can't be just that. Hrmmmph.

Offline Decon

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2013, 07:40:38 PM »
Well, I posted on the B&N facebook, and I just contacted Jenny from Totallybooked and she's going to post it. They have 15k followers on Facebook, so that should make some noise. I've mentioned your books there too. It helps prove I'm not just crazy =)


I think you'll find the policy Ive stated above probably accounts for the problem and I doubt they will change it how ever loud you and others shout. Maybe some do slip the net and every now and then they make amends.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 07:42:39 PM by Decon »


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Offline That one girl

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2013, 07:44:27 PM »
Yeah, I emailed them when this happened to Relentless last month and they sent me a bullsh*t canned response about the way rankings work based on sales of all books, not just mine. Grrr!

Offline LilianaHart

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2013, 07:47:12 PM »

I think you'll find the policy Ive stated above probably accounts for the problem and I doubt they will change it how ever loud you and others shout. Maybe some do slip the net and every now and then they make amends.

Nope, I hit #1 in the B&N store with a .99 book in February, but it was with a mystery instead of one of my romances. I personally believe it's a censorship issue as the only people I've seen this happen to are romance and erotica writers.

Offline Maya Cross

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2013, 07:52:21 PM »
I had this exact same thing happen to me last week when I had a Bookbub ad with Cade. I sold enough books that day that I should have been in the top 10 at B&N, and like you it wouldn't let me rise past #126. I was stuck at that ranking for 3 days and it totally screwed up my sales push. I figured it was because of my cover, but who knows? I am so sick of this happening, but they don't care and they ignore the complaints. Believe me, I've been in contact with the top people at B&N. they call it a "glitch."  

That doesn't bode well. If you can't fix it with the clout you've got, I doubt there's any hope for us.

Unless things have changed, I seem to remember over a year ago that B&N tweaked their algorithms to stop 99c books getting into the top 100 to boost profits. I seem to remember $2.99 was the cut off. Maybe the one at rank 5 slipped their net and the drop was a readjustment.


I'm really sure this is the case. There were many blog posts at the time and threads about it on here.

The book that was #5 is $2.99, so that's not the issue.

Offline Maya Cross

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2013, 08:11:20 PM »
I've also hopefully got Draft2Digital on the case. They're costing me money, so they're costing D2D money too.

The more I read though, the more it seems like there's nothing we can really do. It seems like #126 is the magic barrier they've assigned to any books they deem unworthy. I wish I could get on the phone with someone. The policy is completely opaque. Why was Damaged allowed to hit #1, but Pieces of You gets held back? Why can Fifty Shades chart, but not my book. It's ludicrous.


Online PhoenixS

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2013, 10:44:03 PM »
Unless things have changed, I seem to remember over a year ago that B&N tweaked their algorithms to stop 99c books getting into the top 100 to boost profits. I seem to remember $2.99 was the cut off. Maybe the one at rank 5 slipped their net and the drop was a readjustment.

I'm really sure this is the case. There were many blog posts at the time and threads about it on here.

Jennifer Blake's THE TUSCAN'S REVENGE WEDDING stayed in the Top 100 at BN at 99c May 3-20, for a total of 17.5 days.
THE VENETIAN'S DARING SEDUCTION was there May 3-12, for a total of 10 days at 99c.
Both are contemporary romances - a little steam, but not even romantica (which I would consider some of her older historicals) - and the covers are quite sedate.

I thought BN had been handicapping romantica/erotica with 1000 extra ranks, so #126 is a better rank than I would have expected if they're looking to suppress the OP's books.

Pieces of You: 475 units sold (ranked #128)
Relentless: 169 units sold (ranked #132)

TUSCAN hit #14 with 480 units sold on May 5, so PIECES OF YOU is definitely being penalized.

Still, the BN lists are theirs to tweak as they wish. Amazon weights in history, for example, so a book that sells 2000 copies may not rank above a book that sells "only" 1800 on any given day. If BN's business objective is to keep steam out of the Top 100, I'm not sure your voice as an author will count for much :(. I do empathize. IMO, it does suck.

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Offline Maya Cross

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Re: Barnes and Noble ranking tampering AGAIN.
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2013, 10:54:01 PM »
Obviously it's their storefront, and they can theoretically do whatever they like, but there's the issue of transparency. If they're going to penalise certain books, they need to explain why. We pay them for the privilege of using their service, and we deserve to understand the decisions they make that can adversely affect our business.

And then there's consistency. Cassia's said her books barely qualify as 'steamy' at all, yet there are multiple erotica books still in the top 100, including some other self pub erotica that has yet to be placed behind the wall.

And then there's the fact that they're promoting this as their best seller list, when it's not. It's a list of pre-approved books that may or may not be selling better than others.

At the very least it's grossly unfair and I'm happy to spend a little time trying to make our voices heard. I mailed a ton of big blogs about this earlier. It probably won't amount to anything, but it's made me angry enough that I don't really care.