One Year Ago: E-Commerce Book Tops Amazon Business Bestseller List

For the first time, a book on e-commerce has reached the top of the business bestseller list on The online giant named the book, “” by Patricia Seybold and Ronni Marshak (contributor), the No. 1 business bestseller for 1999.

Business bestsellers typically cover more generic topics. Amazon’s No. 2 book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen, for example, covers how key technologies are developed, while the No. 3 book, “Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal With Change in Your Work and in Your Life” by Spencer Johnson, deals with personal career development.

Bill Gates’ “[email protected] Speed of Thought” and Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” were Amazon’s fourth and fifth bestsellers in 1999, respectively.

Released in November 1998 by Times Books/Random House, “” has sold 175,000 domestic copies. During 1999, the book appeared on numerous bestseller lists including Business Week, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

Making the List

To show that the growing popularity of e-commerce is not a fluke, two other online business books also made their way onto Amazon’s top 10 list.

“Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Information Economy” by Carl Shapiro and Hal R. Varian was No. 7 on the list, while “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers” by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers was No. 10.

Online vs. Brick

In an interview with the E-Commerce Times, Seybold said that online sales of her book were twice as large as sales at brick-and-mortar stores. She added that online stores like Amazon create a “positive feedback loop that generates far more sales than brick-and-mortar stores.”

“The traditional book industry has too many broken chains,” Seybold continued. “When people look for a book and it is not on the shelf, the bookstore will offer to order it for you, but the sales clerks do not make a note of it and send it to headquarters. They lose too many sales because they fail to close the loop.”

Seybold noted further that “Online stores know immediately when people are looking for specific books and can display reviews and other information to help make the sale. They can also suggest similar books being read on the same topic. They’re a more effective merchandising mechanism than brick-and-mortar bookstores.”

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