Most authors can't resist checking their "numbers" (book rankings) on Amazon. We do it because it's the fastest way; sales numbers from our publishers are usually months behind. And Amazon has been increasingly clever in cultivating authors by offering free space for author profiles. I've dutifully signed on, though somewhat reluctantly, because I try to be loyal to the indie bookstore world. But some services are just too good to pass up, including my recent discovery (where have I been?!) of "Bookscan" sales highlights.
Located in "Author Central," "Bookscan" is actually way more than highlights: it not only shows how many copies of what titles have been sold, but where they were sold--not addresses, certainly, but regions. Minneapolis area. West Chicago. Brooklyn. Imagine a map of voting trends, one that breaks a state down to counties, and that's pretty much was Bookscan offers. What's not to like about that?
Then I discovered pages and pages of reviews (where HAVE I been??) of my books, each with stars (up to five). It's never healthy to read one's reviews, and after a page or two of this I got a grip and stopped. The problem with reviews, is that the author remembers the very best--and the very worst--of them. And the very worst ones, even if written by someone clearly imbalanced, tend to stick in the brain.
Any way, I'm just musing over Amazon here: how much it has to offer, and how difficult it is to say no.