Heart of the Jedi: what it means to top the charts
Yesterday Heart of the Jedi, the once cancelled Star Wars novel from the 90s was pulled from Amazon after over two months on the platform. 10 days after we discovered and spread the word about it. Over those 10 days I spent my time refreshing various Amazon pages every 3 hours and updating excel sheets to show you all how good it was doing.
Screenshot from early May 4th
One thing I noticed was how well it was selling in comparison to other Star Wars novels, and I used this in my analysis as a measuring stick for how well it was doing along side the rankings themselves. Eventually on early May 4th it passed all other Star Wars books for a 12 hour period before being beaten by Light of the Jedi as it was on sale for 90%. Then from May 7th to May 9th. It took back the top spot among all other Star Wars books, which it kept until the very last update before it was taken down when Thrawn Ascendency Greater Good passed it again.
Screenshot from May 9th
I found this very impressive and worth sharing. From the reactions of my articles and how people were talking about this many of you did as well, but I think what got lost in the translation is why that was impressive. That being the competition.
The main book that gave it trouble through these 10 days was Thrawn Ascendency book 2 Greater Good. A book that had just come out three days prior to us finding out about the Heart of the Jedi listing. It is a book that was available on Audible, where people could get it for free with a single audible credit, audible credits that they get for free every month just for subscribing to the service. And a book written by Timothy Zahn, the one who is the most popular, well known and most liked of Star Wars authors. In fact it wasn't alone, as both book one and preorders of book 3 were also high on those charts.
Screenshot from May 2nd
It was the most popular author, writing a book about one of the most popular antagonists of the franchise on its opening week. In the two months that Heart of the Jedi was available we quite literally picked probably the worst time to try and compete with other Star Wars books, and yet we did. The book it was facing in its opening week finished 20th on the USA Today's Best Selling Book list and 13th on the NYT Best Selling Fiction List that week.
Granted these lists don't include audiobooks, the sales figures on Amazon don't combine all three formats, and these lists were only up until Sunday May 2nd and third, with the week two results not out yet. Still, Heart of the Jedi was competing with every single format of this book, and after day 2 was always within a few spots in the rankings of the audiobook version, the one that was selling the most. As well as the audiobook of book one that people were getting to catch up in the series, and preorders of book 3 so people could be ensured they wouldn't miss out on the next installment. I'm not saying that Heart of the Jedi outsold it for all 10 days but it did keep up with it during that time, and that is remarkable.
Screenshot from May 3rd
The other one it competed with was Light of the Jedi, the first of the High Republic books. This one had been released in January, and only had its ebook compete with Heart of the Jedi for about two days, due to a May the 4th sale that discounted it at 90%. (Which to be fair Heart of the Jedi also received a 10% discount on May 2nd that it kept for the remainder of its run)
Screenshot from late May 4th
Now I've seen a lot said about this not being a popular book, or that no one wants High Republic, which I can't really comment on as I haven't read it and don't really know much about it aside from all the Geode memes. But I did find out in researching for this article that it debuted at #1 on the NYT best seller's list, and spent an entire month on that list.
And I also know that people were buying it in that period, more than the aforementioned Thrawn book and more than Heart of the Jedi. But despite this Heart of the Jedi still stood just two spots away, and once the discount was over Heart of the Jedi was there to reclaim the spot of the best selling Star Wars book on the site.
You may be asking why am I talking so highly about these Disney books that I haven't read? What's the point of all of this? Well the point is that to put Heart of the Jedi on a pedestal for being so popular and outselling all of these Disney books, and then say no one wants those same Disney books, is actually hurting not helping your point.
If no one wants these other Star Wars books, then the sales numbers are low and it doesn't take that many sales of Heart of the Jedi to beat them. This doesn't make Heart of the Jedi's accomplishments look all that impressive, so what that it beat a bunch of books no one wants? Who cares anything could have done that. It diminishes the accomplishment that these last 10 days were.
In storytelling a hero is only as great as the villain they defeat. The greater the challenge, the greater the triumph. This isn't to say that Disney or these books are the villains but rather to say that the competition we faced wasn't a pushover, it was formidable. Yet despite this we still came out on top, even if it was just for a bit. And even when we weren't on top we were right there keeping up with it. That is what made these last 10 days a triumph, and that is what it means to top the charts.
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