The #1 book in the Kindle store Friday and today is...The Hunger Games! Or is it?
When you click on The Hunger Games' product details, it shows that it is actually ranked "#2 Paid in the Kindle Store." The #1 ebook on Amazon is actually the runaway bestseller, 50 Shades of Grey (see screenshot above of the #1 sales rank designation, contrasted with Amazon's bestseller list). In fact, all three of the top 10 books on Amazon's ebook bestseller list are in the Shades of Grey series, and none of them appear on Amazon's bestseller list.
Why the discrepancy? One book features underage children murdering each other in a brutal post-apocalyptic arena, while the other features two adults having consensual sex. And Amazon doesn't allow "dirty books" (i.e. erotica) to show up on its bestseller list. However, as one reader points out, if you access the Kindle bestseller list through the Kindle store (and not via Amazon's general search page), the EL James titles do show up. (Well, sometimes they do -- it's kind of hit or miss whether or not Amazon hides them from you. I can't figure it out...)
It's long been a known issue that certain erotica titles (like Harlequin's Spice Briefs) don't appear in Amazon's general search, and that Amazon "whitewashes" its "Top Paid in the Kindle Store" list of erotica to prevent unsuspecting customers from being shocked by lurid covers and content. "In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature," Amazon wrote to an author in 2009 who questioned Amazon's policies. This may be the first instance, however, that an erotic ebook has topped the Amazon bestseller list.
UPDATE 3/4/12: As Lauren Dane points out on Twitter, erotica romance ebooks have topped Amazon's Kindle bestseller list (hers included). Those ebooks, as far as I can tell, have always shown up on the list, because Amazon did not label them as having "adult" content like 50 Shades of Grey.