Google eBooks bestsellers: getting ahead of ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’


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It’s been a day since Google launched its eBook store, and its bestseller list features the usual suspects: James Patterson, John Grisham, Dennis Lehane. Just like on Amazon, the New York Times and our own bestseller list, memoirs from George W. Bush and Mark Twain are selling well.

Yet one historical mystery from a debut novelist rose from the hundreds of thousands of titles for sale to land at #16 on Google ebooks new bestseller list.


“The Pericles Commission: A Mystery of Ancient Greece” by Gary Corby is one place behind Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” and four slots ahead of Stieg Larsson’s mega-bestselling “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

“I have absolutely no idea how that happened,” Corby wrote in an e-mail from Australia, where he lives. “But if anyone does know, please tell me, because I’d like to do it again.”

The Kindle edition of “The Pericles Commission,” which hit shelves Nov. 9, peaked in Amazon’s sub-sub-category of historical mysteries at No. 8; the hardcover didn’t go nearly so high, reaching No. 55.

How the mystery wound up doing so well on Google eBooks is, well, a mystery.

Like many new novelists, Corby is online, but his modest presence hardly seems enough to explain his bestseller ranking. On Twitter, he has 1,600 or so followers; on Facebook, just over 100 friends; his blog has 207 Google Connect followers.

Was it something he did? Was it luck?

Corby is really the only surprise in Google eBooks’ top 20, which is currently topped by James Patterson’s “Crossfire.” What is notable is that the Google eBooks bestseller list hasn’t budged since Monday morning, when the service launched. By comparison, Amazon’s bestsellers lists are updated every hour.

Google could shed more light on their bestseller process, but they have not yet returned our request for comment. Maybe they’re too busy reading Corby’s book, which begins promisingly: “A dead man fell from the sky, landing at my feet with a thud.”

-- Carolyn Kellogg