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D&D 5E 5E Books and Amazon Sales Rank

Mercurius

Legend
My apologies...I tried putting this list in spoilers for clarity's sake, but was having trouble not creating multiple spoiler tags. Anyhow...

77. Fizban's Treasure of Dragons (2021)
89. Call of the Netherdeep (2022)
229. Player's Handbook (2014)

334. Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (2020)
481. Monster Manual (2014)
539. Xanathar's Guide to Everything (2017)
587. Dungeon Master's Guide (2014)
740. Volo's Guide to Monsters (2016)
793. Wild Beyond the Witchlight (2021)
1272. Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (2018)
1963. Candlekeep Mysteries (2021)
2086. Eberron (2019)
2149. Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (2018)
2150. Strixhaven (2021)
2335. Ravenloft (2021)
2359. Wildemount (2020)

2381. Tales from the Yawning Portal (2017)
2836. Theros (2020)
3237. Icewind Dale (2020)
3530. Curse of Strahd (2016)
4122. Ghosts of Saltmarsh (2019)
4130. Waterdeep: Mad Mage (2018)
4641. Baldur's Gate: Descent (2019)

4667. Tomb of Annihilation (2017)
4987. Ravnica (2018)
5188. Storm King's Thunder (2016)
6731. Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (2015)
7452. Hoard of the Dragon Queen (2014)
7618. Out of the Abyss (2015)

8503. Acquisitions Incorporated (2019)
15429. Rise of Tiamat (2014)
26147. Princes of the Apocalypse (2015)


Can anyone make sense of the above? I mean, does the Amazon algorithm mean anything? I'm still not certain how it works, but assume it has some degree of correlation with ongoing sales.

A few things that strike me:

  • Splats sell really well. They account for four of the top 10, and some of those books go back several years.
  • Older adventures don't sell all that well, although this isn't all that surprising.
  • Was Acquisitions Incorporated a dud? Second lowest and it is only two years old.
  • Setting books seem to be solid, if unspectacular. Eberron is #1, still.
  • Of adventures, Strahd, Dragon Heist, and Tales seem to be holding consistent sales the best.
  • The worst-selling, relative to year and rank, seem to be Icewind Dale, Ghosts of Saltmarsh, Baldur's Gate, and Acquisitions Incorporated. Princes too, but it is really old.
  • General trend: Best ongoing sellers are (obviously) core rulebooks, then splats, then settings, then adventures.
  • General trend: Adventures sell really well at first, then drop quickly (e.g. Wild is falling behind the splats already).
 

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TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
The main thing is that sales rankings are finally going back to normal. When I get a chance I will look at some older sales threads, but WotC had so many top sellers for so long.

The second is that they have come out with 32 books, plus the box sets. 5e is under-supported no longer.

As for the question, the long standing pattern is that core books sell better then splats which do better then adventures. But adventures may facilitate sales of other books.
 

There is nothing particularly surprising there. The things that are just released/announced at the top, and the really old stuff (apart from core rules) at the bottom.
Splats sell really well. They account for four of the top 10, and some of those books go back several years.
This has long been known to be the case. The main thing is players buy them. Adventures are pretty much only bought by DMs.
Was Acquisitions Incorporated a dud?
That was certainly my impression. It barely gets mentioned anywhere. I haven't got it.
 

There is limited value to this data without having this sort of data going back to the launch of 5e.

But yeah adventures Spike early, mostly bought by DMS or if they have interesting lore also by fans of lore, but them drop down as they old little appeal to players.

PHB, Splat Books, and Settings books tend to be more resilient, because they appeal to new players.

One thing is the SCAG is by far the oldest and the most critized setting book, which it barely qualifies to be called really, in previous editions it would be called a regional book, so it's lack of current sales should not be taken as reflective of the popularity of the Forgotten Realms. A new FR setting book that goes into more details about none Swordcoast regions with new player and DM options would out sell Eberron and CR easily.

It's also interesting that despite being an older book, Eberron is still out selling Wildemount (which was a well designed book as some who isn't a CR fan, it's just a cool setting to me). It under cuts the idea that CR is the primary driving force of D&D's surging popularity, when really its just one source among many.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Yeah, a better metric would be figures during the first month of release for each. Otherwise older stuff drops and new stuff comes in at the top, as should be the way in any kind of bestseller list. That's almost more just a ranking of how old each book is, with the exception of the core books.
 


darjr

I crit!
AF4C2928-AF23-4C67-B9DB-FF287CC519CF.jpeg

Fizban’s is back in the top 20 again. I think it hit 1 again too but I dint have a photo.

It’s cool and important but also a lot noisy at the moment.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Critical Role.

Starting in 2015, they were quite popular by 2017. By 2019 they were so popular they could afford to break off from Geek n' Sundry and become their own thing.

Look at the four splat books at the top. No specific setting, more or less, compared to SCAG. Something you can use for a fresh new campaign in a homebrew campaign setting. Yeah, Wildemount is an Xandria setting book, but Critical Role encourages people to create their -own- thing.

As far as PHBs and stuff: Lots of people head to a gaming shop for their first purchase but the convenience of online shopping during a global pandemic... Mmf...
 

see

Pedantic Grognard
The Amazon "Sales Rank" algorithm is secret, but reportedly combines a lot of stuff (including page hits), and the decay-over-time isn't disclosed. So I mostly treat it as noise.
 

The Amazon "Sales Rank" algorithm is secret, but reportedly combines a lot of stuff (including page hits), and the decay-over-time isn't disclosed. So I mostly treat it as noise.
No, the Sales Rank is just that, sales. And people have been able to figure out the algorithm. It's pretty simple and emphasizes consistency rather than short term spikes.
 

gss000

Explorer
  • Was Acquisitions Incorporated a dud? Second lowest and it is only two years old.
Funny thing about calling any of these "duds." These rankings, from the research I did in trying to see if you could get an estimate of sales from the sales rank, are a combination of monthly sales and daily sales. Based on my own observations, when you get into the thousands range the rank can fluctuate wildly even from day to day.

Here's an example. For some reason, Pathfinder books are now listed under Toys & Games and not Books. However, right before that switch, I saw the PF2E core rulebook, the highest performer, fluctuated between the 5000s and the 9000s, with brief periods when it was closer to Rise of Tiamat than Acquisition Incorporated in that ranking you posted. While that is not D&D, it does make you wonder that at least when it comes to Amazon rankings, is Acquisition Incorporated a dud because it does worse than other D&D 5E books, or a success because it still performs well compared to other roleplaying books?
 

darjr

I crit!
As it always is. Especially at the higher numbers.

It's good for a trend, if the number stays in a consistent range day after day, like the PHB does, or if the numbers are drastically apart, like the 5e PHB was and the Pathfinder 2e core book was when it was in all books, or the 5e PHB compared to the Call of Cthulu keepers book.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Funny thing about calling any of these "duds." These rankings, from the research I did in trying to see if you could get an estimate of sales from the sales rank, are a combination of monthly sales and daily sales. Based on my own observations, when you get into the thousands range the rank can fluctuate wildly even from day to day.

Here's an example. For some reason, Pathfinder books are now listed under Toys & Games and not Books. However, right before that switch, I saw the PF2E core rulebook, the highest performer, fluctuated between the 5000s and the 9000s, with brief periods when it was closer to Rise of Tiamat than Acquisition Incorporated in that ranking you posted. While that is not D&D, it does make you wonder that at least when it comes to Amazon rankings, is Acquisition Incorporated a dud because it does worse than other D&D 5E books, or a success because it still performs well compared to other roleplaying books?
I think the answer is "both." I'm guessing just about any D&D book will outsell any other RPG book, at least in the US, but I'm sure WotC also has an eye for how each book does relative to each other. But they're also probably OK with a few loss leaders and passion projects, given the overall success of the game. This is why we might some rather interesting offerings over the next few years (such as new settings).
 

teitan

Legend
Critical Role.

Starting in 2015, they were quite popular by 2017. By 2019 they were so popular they could afford to break off from Geek n' Sundry and become their own thing.

Look at the four splat books at the top. No specific setting, more or less, compared to SCAG. Something you can use for a fresh new campaign in a homebrew campaign setting. Yeah, Wildemount is an Xandria setting book, but Critical Role encourages people to create their -own- thing.

As far as PHBs and stuff: Lots of people head to a gaming shop for their first purchase but the convenience of online shopping during a global pandemic... Mmf...
Creating your own thing was not just a Critical Role thing, that was ALWAYS the main thing with D&D and was always born out by data collected by TSR and WOTC. Homebrew was always the majority of games going back to 0e. The SPlat books, edition neutral materials outsold setting materials, with only FR really coming close to being an official setting and almost getting the axe in the 3e era and being shifted towards being crunchy to the detriment of fluffy.

TSR cranked out setting materials in 2e and lost money on them, as well documented by Ryan Dancey when he was the brand manager back in the 3e days talking about what WOTC found look at the TSR finances, and why they retracted to just supporting FR. Sales were there to support FR from licensing and sourcebook sales. They cancelled all the other settings and only supported one other setting in the 3.x era, in the form of Eberron. The rest were licensed to other companies like WHite Wolf with Ravenloft and Gamma World and Margaret Weis with Dragonlance with WOTC publishing the core DL sourcebook.

4e saw setting books get retracted to a Player's Guide, a DM's Guide and an Adventure with FR being revisited for Neverwinter to support the video game. And then they only published FR, Eberron and Dark Sun with plans scuppered for a standalone Ravenloft game and a Nentir Vale gazeteer.

D&D, more than any RPG, has ALWAYS been about homebrew and DIY. The best supplements in the 2e era were DIY materials like the Castles & Catacombs guides and the Historical reference books. Traveller is probably the only game that could rival D&D on that and also the only game that could rival D&D on that canon arguments as well. One could be misled by the love people have for the settings and canon arguments but Critical Role, and I love Critical Role, I am a die hard Critical Role fan, has little to do with the "make it yourself" movement in D&D. D&D has barely supported a setting in much of any capacity in 14 years. You can count the support for FR without running out of fingers beyond some adventures.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Creating your own thing was not just a Critical Role thing, that was ALWAYS the main thing with D&D and was always born out by data collected by TSR and WOTC. Homebrew was always the majority of games going back to 0e. The SPlat books, edition neutral materials outsold setting materials, with only FR really coming close to being an official setting and almost getting the axe in the 3e era and being shifted towards being crunchy to the detriment of fluffy.

TSR cranked out setting materials in 2e and lost money on them, as well documented by Ryan Dancey when he was the brand manager back in the 3e days talking about what WOTC found look at the TSR finances, and why they retracted to just supporting FR. Sales were there to support FR from licensing and sourcebook sales. They cancelled all the other settings and only supported one other setting in the 3.x era, in the form of Eberron. The rest were licensed to other companies like WHite Wolf with Ravenloft and Gamma World and Margaret Weis with Dragonlance with WOTC publishing the core DL sourcebook.

4e saw setting books get retracted to a Player's Guide, a DM's Guide and an Adventure with FR being revisited for Neverwinter to support the video game. And then they only published FR, Eberron and Dark Sun with plans scuppered for a standalone Ravenloft game and a Nentir Vale gazeteer.

D&D, more than any RPG, has ALWAYS been about homebrew and DIY. The best supplements in the 2e era were DIY materials like the Castles & Catacombs guides and the Historical reference books. Traveller is probably the only game that could rival D&D on that and also the only game that could rival D&D on that canon arguments as well. One could be misled by the love people have for the settings and canon arguments but Critical Role, and I love Critical Role, I am a die hard Critical Role fan, has little to do with the "make it yourself" movement in D&D. D&D has barely supported a setting in much of any capacity in 14 years. You can count the support for FR without running out of fingers beyond some adventures.
Dude, I've been playing for the better part of 30 years. My title on this forum is "Creator of Worlds". You don't need to tell me that D&D encouraged people to create their own worlds 20+ years ago. You also don't need to walk me through D&D's history of Campaign settings.

The point is that Critical Role, with it's massive audience and influence, said "Don't just play in our world, create your own" to people who weren't playing 5 years ago. To people who weren't playing 1 year ago.

Critical Role became a popular property and then expressly said "Do your own thing, don't copy what we're doing" and brand spanking new players dove into that, is the point I'm making. When it would've been vastly easier and more profitable to instead release splat after splat tied to Exandria and the Critical Role characters, which their audience would've eagerly consumed with neither hesitation nor qualm, because that's how our current media consumption works, they actively told people to go out and make their own worlds.

Like... seriously. I'm in Twitch Streamer Discords and when I showed some of them Sins of the Scorpion Age they were -confused-. Shocked at how much stuff I just "Made Up" even though a bunch of them are D&D players, themselves. Even now, in Ficus Fox's discord there's this perception that a team of people, of whom I was just one, put the world together... because it's seen as too much.

Confusion.png

Here's some Excerpts from one conversation I had, there, a month ago and a few notes when I released the Discord link.

TL:DR:
"Kids, Today" would probably have just bought everything Exandria if they'd been given the chance. Instead, Mercer and Crew actively encouraged them to create their own worlds. And we're talking about a Fanbase that gave them almost $12 million to make a cartoon about their characters...

The idea that what TSR encouraged 40 years ago means more than a fart on a windy day in our current consumer culture is just wild...
 

teitan

Legend
Yeah except you aren't acknowledging it is the default expectation for 5e, that you are creating your own world and that the core rulebooks, including the expansions you yourself are talking about are all generic while also crediting Critical Role for people homebrewing. While CR is huge, absolutely massive, and infuential, I don't think the fans need their encouragement to make stuff up because the one thing with CR fans that I have noticed is that they are massively creative, experimental and wild in their imaginations coming up with unique ideas and concepts even before discovering CR. With some all CR did was give them a gateway to opening up in a similar way that anime or manga did for the millenial generation and things like comic books, NIN, Manson and the grunge era did for Gen Z. But the rulebooks and expansions, which outsold Tal'dorei, the only CR rulebook for a handful or years, by a pretty decent margin, didn't say anything about Exandria and Mercer didn't have a D&D credit until Dragon Heist. I get what you are saying but you're really doing a massive disservice to homebrewers by just saying... Critical Role is why. No, it's a gateway sure but not necessarily why people are homebrewing.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Interesting discussion.

Given that core books and splats are at the top, and adventures in the bottom, then settings have to be next to last. (Both AI and SCAG may also be perceived as setting-esque)

Also, the 5e settings are all niche, I think by design. And the 5e splats are pretty high quality. As we are taking a historical perspective, the 3e FR guide probably did very well, as it was for a major setting and high quality (and also kind of a splat), whereas some of the early 3e splats were very weak. My guess is that this would still be exceptional.

But if they did another FR or GH book at the same level of quality, with some splat, it would probably do very well. That doesn't mean they would do it.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Can anyone make sense of the above? I mean, does the Amazon algorithm mean anything
Yes, those are hourly sales rankings. Fizban's was the 77th best selling book on Amazon in the hour that you captured that data, while Call of the Netherdeep was the 89th best selling book, and the PHB was the 229th best selling book. On the other hand, 26146 books were selling better than Princes of the Apocalypse...which isn't that bad when you consider the depth of Amazon's catalog.

There isn't a historical aspect at all, that's just a snapshot of sales at the moment. The pattern is thst new and Core books sell the best,go figure, with some things like Volo's or Xanathar's being more perennial. However, even Rise of Tiamat and Princes of the Apocalypse are still in print and selling, which is significant in and of itself considering that both Adventurew have a shelf life longer than the entire 3.5 product line, or 4E.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
No big surprise. Core books and player orientated stuff sells better.

Acquisitions Inc was a pass for me and I suspect a lot of groups. Art alone is a turnoff.
 


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