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Amazon names its 10 best-selling books of 2012, and half were originally self-published digitals

When it comes to what the Internet book-buying audience sought for this year, the answer seems to be all the old favorites: Sex, violence, and airport novels. Amazon has released its annual list of the ten best-selling books of the year on the site, and there are more than a few familiar names to be found … and also, perhaps, a sneak peek at the way the publishing industry is heading in the near-future.

The list has a specific criteria, which may explain some of the more unexpected absences (No Hunger Games or Twilight? No Fifty Shades of Grey?!?): In order to qualify for inclusion, books have to have been published for the first time in 2012, and the chart only includes paid units sold this year, combining both print and Kindle format editions. Bearing this in mind, the top ten books of Amazon’s year are:

1. “Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three of the Fifty Shades Trilogy” by E. L. James

2. “Gone Girl: A Novel” by Gillian Flynn

3. “Fifty Shades Trilogy: Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed 3-volume Boxed Set” by E. L. James

4. “Bared to You: A Crossfire Novel” by Sylvia Day

5. “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden” by Mark Owen

6. “The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire)” by Jennifer Probst

7. “Reflected in You: A Crossfire Novel” by Sylvia Day

8. “The Racketeer” by John Grisham

9. “Defending Jacob: A Novel” by William Landay

10. “The Innocent” by David Baldacci

“This was truly the year of the billionaire bad boy in romance,” Amazon’s Editorial Director of Books and Kindle Sara Nelson said. “Amazon readers just couldn’t get enough of the genre … While E. L. James published the first two books in her Fifty Shades trilogy in 2011, so they aren’t eligible for our 2012 list, the series really took off this year and propelled the third installment and the omnibus edition onto our top 10 list.” 

More interestingly, perhaps, note that books aimed at female readers dominated the list, with six of the ten targeted at women. That’s not the only connective tissue between a large part of the list, as Nelson points out. “It’s also interesting to note that four of the five contemporary romance titles in the top 10 list, including the Fifty Shades trilogy, were originally independently published and went on to become huge best sellers.” The fifth, tellingly – Sylvia Day’s Reflected in You: A Crossfire Novel – is the sequel to the earlier, originally-self-published Bared to You.

Each of these books were later republished by mainstream publishing houses, perhaps demonstrating the new relationship between “traditional” publishing and the self/small press-publishers in a world where e-books and digital publishing (as well as the rise of online retailers) has changed the way this industry works. Now, you don’t have to necessarily rely upon a kindly editor or slush-pile reader to take notice of you in order to make it as a writer: You just have to be able to garner enough attention online and the publishers will come knocking.

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