Whether you are an author, a reader, or both, it pays to examine how much importance book rankings are given by purchasers.
Examine your own buying habits first. What sends you to particular books? Which online retailers do you frequent? And most importantly, what do you look at first when you reach the book or author you seek?
Answer those questions honestly (go on, no one can read your mind) and think again.
Most people seek books because they have heard them mentioned by someone, or they have seen them mentioned in a blog. When they arrive at the book's page, they look at the cover. Then what? The number of pages? The blurb? The publisher? Reviews? Does anyone at all look at a book's ranking?
What a ranking means often confuses book purchasers. Is it a popularity gauge or a statistical average? Rankings are comparative, of course. They can change whether or not a book sells, simply because others do, and the balance shifts. They must be better the smaller they are, because #1 is best. Aha. So what does 214,361 mean - and is it unique, or do many books occupy that 'place'? There must be a bottom number, people suppose. If there is, it must be rather big. Has anyone ever seen the bottom number?
What position a book holds in the grand order of things is probably not what's persuasive to purchasers looking for a good read. Perhaps those figures present more significance to authors and publishers than they do to readers.
If you land on the page of a book recommended by a friend, chances are unlikely you will be dissuaded by the ranking, if you even bother to look.
-- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,393 Paid in Kindle Store --
How important is this line in any book's description? This one, by the way, is today's from The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
Readers - tell me about the importance of rankings when you shop for books.
Authors - tell me whether you regularly check your titles' rankings to see how they are faring.