Top Sellers at Amazon as Economic Sociology

Amazon mines its own data for some top-sellers over the Xmas season. While it’s interesting enough, I generally think this kind of thing is more useful as a sociological document than as a financial one. Fifty years from now — okay, maybe even five years from now — this will tell more about who we are, what we want, and where we think we’re going than the average would-be historian’s Ph.D. thesis on the U.S. back in 2006.

* In Toys, our top sellers included Radica 20 Questions, Laugh & Learn Cuddly Learning Puppy and Princess Genevieve Doll – Barbie In the 12 Dancing Princesses.
* Tops in video game hardware were the Nintendo DS Lite available in white, pink and black as well as Play Station 2 and the Xbox 360.
* Video games were a customer favorite again this year with New Super Mario Bros., Brain Age and Madden Football topping the list.
* In DVDs, top sellers included Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest (Two-Disc Collectors Edition), Cars (Widescreen Edition) and An Inconvenient Truth.
* In music, the top sellers included Awake by Josh Groban, Love by the Beatles and Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan.
* The top selling books were You: On a Diet: The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management by Mehmet C. Oz and Michael F. Roizen, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama and Living Divine Relationships by Zhi Gang Sha.
* Top sellers in Consumer Electronics include Apple iPods (various), Canon Powershot Digital Elph Cameras and Garmin GPS Systems.
* Top Software titles include World of Warcraft Expansion: Burning Crusade (not yet released), The Sims 2 Pet Expansion Pack (Windows Me, 98, XP, 2000) and Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 (Windows XP).
* Top sellers in the Beauty store were Bare Escentuals Get Started Kit, Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil and Philosophy Hope in a Jar Daily Moisturizer.
* In PCs, the top sellers were the Apple MacBook 13.3” Notebook PC in white and black and the Sony VAIO 15.4” Notebook PC.
* Headsets let the Wireless Accessories top sellers including the Logitech Mobile Express Bluetooth Headset, Plantronics Voyager 510 Bluetooth Headset and the Motorola H700 Bluetooth Headset.
* In Apparel and Accessories, popular items included Columbia Sportswear Men’s 3 in 1 Kestrel Parka, Reggie Bush Black New Orleans Saints Youth Replica Jersey and Kenneth Cole Reaction Men’s Hadley Poly Bonded Hipster Jacket.
* Top-selling shoes included the Nine West Women’s Ealene Boot, Kenneth Cole Reaction Men’s Team Circle Boot and BCBG Girls Women’s Kayo Mid Shaft Boot.
* The top-selling products in Amazon’s Automotive Parts & Accessories store include the Sylvania DOT-it Self-Adhesive LED light, LifeHammer Original Emergency Hammer (Orange) and Accutire Digital Key Chain Tire Gauge.
* The top-selling Sports & Outdoors items were the Razor A Kick Scooter, Schwinn 418 Elliptical Trainer and the Bowflex Series 7 Treadmill.
* In the Baby Store, the top-selling products were Cloud b Twilight Turtle – Constellation Night Light, Healthy Care Booster Seat and Mozart Magic Cube.
* Jewelry top sellers included 14k White Gold, Round, Diamond Stud Earrings, Platinum, Round, Diamond 4-Prong Stud Earrings and Sterling Silver Open Double Flower Pendant.
* Watches were also popular with the Bulova Women’s Diamond Bezel Chronograph Watch, Invicta Men’s Automatic Pro Diver S2 Watch and Movado Women’s Amarosa Watch topping the list.
* The top-selling Kitchen items included the Matfer Exopat Nonstick Baking/Roasting Sheet, Santa Fe Quesadilla Maker and Calphalon’s Commercial Hard-Anodized 12-in Everyday Pan.
* Top selling items in Amazon’s Grocery store were Senseo coffee pods, Numi’s Bouquet Bamboo Gift Set and Gevalia Signature Blend T-Discs.
* In Health and Personal Care, Airborne Effervescent Dietary Supplement as well as diapers from Pampers and Huggies were top sellers.


  1. Before Amazon’s Bestseller List is a sociological or financial document it is an impulse **sales tool.** The list is much more interesting on the Amazon site itself with colorful graphics and “add to cart” buttons.
    Skeptic and cynic that I am I’ve often wondered if these lists are manipulated… nahhh, the sales department is much too ethical for that.
    That said, I do frequent these lists for their sociological edification. :)

  2. John DePalma says:

    A recent article in “The Economist” discussed “how shops can exploit people’s herd mentality to increase sales”–
    Here’s an excerpt that relates to this posting on Amazon’s list of the top-sellers in each category:
    [Now researchers are investigating how “swarm intelligence” (that is, how ants, bees or any social animal, including humans, behave in a crowd) can be used to influence what people buy.
    At a recent conference on the simulation of adaptive behaviour in Rome, Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani, a computer scientist from the Florida Institute of Technology, described a new way to increase impulse buying using this phenomenon … Mr Usmani and Ronaldo Menezes … set out to enhance this tendency to buy more by playing on the herd instinct. The idea is that, if a certain product is seen to be popular, shoppers are likely to choose it too. The challenge is to keep customers informed about what others are buying.
    Enter smart-cart technology. In Mr Usmani’s supermarket every product has a radio frequency identification tag, a sort of barcode that uses radio waves to transmit information, and every trolley has a scanner that reads this information and relays it to a central computer. As a customer walks past a shelf of goods, a screen on the shelf tells him how many people currently in the shop have chosen that particular product. If the number is high, he is more likely to select it too…
    And the psychology that works in physical stores is just as potent on the internet. Online retailers such as Amazon are adept at telling shoppers which products are popular with like-minded consumers. Even in the privacy of your home, you can still be part of the swarm.]
    ( )

  3. All this is fine, but until Amazon stops recommending me every DIY book that comes out just because I happened to buy one in 1999, or every comic book under the sun just because I buy Asterix, none of these ‘sociological’ things is going to make a blind bit of difference to my shopping intent. The best it may do is bug me so much that I do not buy anything in a shopping session, and leave in a fit of trolley rage.