Despite Amazon sales representing only a tiny fraction of sales for a book, authors check their sales ranking compulsively. The algorithm for establishing the ranking is a deeply guarded secret. Amazon updates its rankings hourly with recent sales weight more heavily than the entirety of a sales history. A NY public relations firm claims that it can propel a book to bestseller status with a mass email campaign. Mr. Kirchner of Ingram Publisher Services believes that you could “make any book you wanted a bestseller for an hour.”
Amazon doesn’t discourage these types of campaigns because they drive sales. Mass emails sent out encourage people to buy books from Amazon rather than other venues. Despite the easy manipulation of Amazon Sales Rankings, authors can’t help but check their rankings on a regular basis. It means something to them regardless of how easy the system can be worked.