An attempt at ranking English language sales of light novel series

Note that the word “attempt” is an important one here.

As you probably already know if you are reading this, every week I post the weekly releases of light novels both in English and in Japanese on this blog. What you may or may not know is that the order of novels in the post is ranked. The ranking priority goes date -> label ordered by top ranking of that label -> order within that label. For the Japanese releases I use the order on Amazon, which isn’t always quite the same as the sales rankings but is far quicker to do. For the English releases I use Book Depository.
Why do I use them when I don’t tend to even buy my stuff from them? Simple – they are the only retailer that meets all five of the basic requirements:
– They have a ranking that covers every book on the site and which is continuously updated.
– They sell all light novels that get physical English language releases.
– They are a relatively large retailer.
– They sell worldwide, and don’t focus on a specific country or region.
– Sales are not skewed by the actions of the retailer (eg. Amazon’s history of hiding light novels under their manga adaptations)

This data is usually collected on a Sunday (occasionally Monday morning instead), and with the vast majority of English language releases coming out on a Tuesday this means that the rankings are for 2 days before release, and thus give you relatively comparable figures.

However, I only started actually taking long-term note of the actual rankings in the middle of the year, so I can’t give you every volume or the volume 1s of each series or something. What I can do, however, is to give a list of the latest volumes of each series, including the upcoming week’s releases.

Bear in mind that a couple of weeks I lost the actual figures for. However, in all bar one of these cases (Tokyo Ghoul : Days being the exception) I am confident of the site rank to the nearest thousand, and in no cases is the below out by more than one rank*.

So, from best rank to worst, here’s the list:

  1. My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected 1
  2. Bakemonogatari part 1
  3. Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- 2
  4. Sword Art Online Progressive 004
  5. Overlord 2: The Dark Warrior
  6. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? 7
  7. No Game No Life 5
  8. Sword Art Online 9: Alicization Beginning
  9. Tokyo Ghoul : Days
  10. The Rising of the Shield Hero 6
  11. Goblin Slayer 1
  12. The Devil is a Part-Timer 6
  13. The Irregular at Magic High School 3: Nine School Competition Arc 1
  14. Seraph of the End: Guren Ichinose: Catastrope at Sixteen 3
  15. Psycome 2 : Murder Princess and the Summer Death Camp
  16. Durarara! 5
  17. Log Horizon 6: Lost Child of the Dawn
  18. The Isolator 3: The Trancer
  19. Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side: Sword Oratoria Vol. 1
  20. Legend of the Galactic Heroes : Endurance
  21. Accel World 08: The Binary Stars of Destiny
  22. Strike the Blood 4: Labyrinth of the Blue Witch
  23. Naruto: Itachi’s Story 2
  24. A Certain Magical Index 9
  25. Baccano! 3: 1931 the Grand Punk Railroad: Express
  26. Kagerou Daze V: The Deceiving
  27. Black Bullet 5: Rentaro Satomi, Fugitive
  28. The Asterisk War 02: Awakening of Silver Beauty
  29. Vampire Hunter D : Throng of Heretics (volume 24)

Excluded:
Spice and Wolf – too long since the last volume
Haruhi – series is on long term hiatus rather than ongoing and English releases are caught up, too long since the last volume.
Naruto Hiden – too long since the last volume, unclear if the latter half are actually going to be released.
Everything with no physical release (which I don’t post on this blog either).

Drawbacks to bear in mind:
These are ordered by RANKING, not sales. The same rank will to a certain extent be inevitably be a different sales figure at different times of year. In particular I would expect series released this week to get a lower rank than they would usually at a given sales level. Then again the timing may lead to them getting more sales as well.
The rankings are those of the latest volumes. New series will always do better than ones that have been going for a long time, which is why I included the volume number/name in the list.
As stated above, a couple of the series that haven’t seen releases in a while were done from memory but I can guarantee that nothing is out by more than one rank on the list above.
This being done from bookdepository’s rankings mean that no other retailer’s sales are relevant. This is thus a relatively small sample size, and Book Depository is probably not representative of the overall market.

* The uncertainties are between Tokyo Ghoul : Days and Sword Art Online, and between Strike the Blood and Accel World. In the former case I am about 55% confident that SAO is higher, and in the latter case, the penultimate volume of Accel World came out on the same day as the latest Strike the Blood volume, and got a better rank than it, which is why I put it higher.

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