most competitive categories on amazon for print books

Amazon now has over 42,521 bestseller lists for eBooks, print books, and audiobooks in the US and UK.

There are over 10,390 bestseller lists (also called categories) just for print books in the US on the Amazon.com site. In some of these bestseller categories, your book can rank #1 with less than 50 sales per month. In other categories, the competition is fierce, requiring thousands of sales each month just to compete in the top 100 spots.

Researching relevant categories for your book on Amazon is like finding the right bookshelf in a bookstore on which to place your book. If you have a contemporary romance novel sitting in a cozy mystery category, you’re unlikely to find many readers who will actually pick up your book and buy it because it’s not relevant to readers in that category.

That’s why you need to spend some time to learn how Amazon’s categories system works. It’s incredibly important to choose just the right categories for your book so that it can easily be found by readers—but also so that it has the best possible chance of becoming a bestseller.

Top 200 Print Book Categories

So which categories are the hottest in terms of print book sales on Amazon?

We’ve dug deep into Amazon’s sales rankings thanks to data from Bestseller Ranking Pro and created a list of the top 200 categories for print books.

These are all categories that sell tens of thousands of books each day—they’re incredibly competitive. If you want to rank in one of these categories, you’ll have to be at the top of your game—you’ll need a great book, an amazing cover, great interior design, and fantastic marketing. You’ll also need a solid author platform.

These are high-traffic categories. If you can rank here, you’re already doing great on sales—but by moving into the top 100 in your category, you’ll unlock massive amounts of extra exposure from Amazon’s internal algorithms and turbocharge your sales.

 

Amazon CategoryBook #1Book #20Book #100
Science Fiction & Fantasy49560
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense ->24887
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Suspense2107110
Literature & Fiction15142
Health, Fitness & Dieting353172
Self-Help140178
Politics & Social Sciences4337224
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery7190231
Children's Books842233
Romance155234
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense28270
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense246310
Reference151336
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Historical6221337
Literature & Fiction -> Historical6221337
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction235363
Biographies & Memoirs ->23534375
Literature & Fiction -> Women's Fiction170442
Parenting & Relationships20213445
Literature & Fiction -> Women's Fiction -> Contemporary Women162454
Romance -> Contemporary1106469
Religion & Spirituality12378483
Science & Math72128487
Romance -> Fantasy13659502
Literature & Fiction -> Humor & Satire52849552
Literature & Fiction -> United States7171617
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy4143640
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Suspense2116642
Literature & Fiction -> Literary281650
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Friendship, Social Skills & School Life8540665
Teens -> Romance701182736
Politics & Social Sciences -> Philosophy43712791
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Epic699796
Business & Money -> Business Culture86130811
Teens -> Science Fiction & Fantasy38591816
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Crime3143817
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Crime3144825
Humor & Entertainment10514828
Christian Books & Bibles6858844
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Psychological Thrillers38389880
Romance -> Romantic Comedy1122882
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure2126909
Children's Books -> Literature & Fiction2208920
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Action & Adventure2139929
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Horror4511935
Medical Books72865970
Children's Books -> Humor8205976
Teens -> Literature & Fiction70515977
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Psychology & Counseling201641005
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction41961030
Business & Money -> Business Culture -> Motivation & Self-Improvement813391033
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Historical -> Fantasy122031078
Literature & Fiction -> Historical -> Fantasy122031078
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Fantasy122031078
Teens153601094
Business & Money -> Business Life -> Motivation & Self-Improvement9511681095
Business & Money -> Management & Leadership861041106
Children's Books -> Animals21971129
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life ->91471129
Textbooks202911138
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Police Procedurals11011155
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Family Life81471156
Romance -> New Adult & College262491187
Self-Help -> Success41691274
Biographies & Memoirs202311287
Cookbooks, Food & Wine7910121311
Children's Books -> Action & Adventure92081318
Literature & Fiction -> Classics121561344
Self-Help -> Personal Transformation525571347
Romance -> Paranormal543851359
Children's Books -> Science Fiction & Fantasy81761377
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Mental Health -> Happiness411881418
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Historical1314251440
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Paranormal92581441
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Paranormal & Urban92571460
Romance -> Romantic Suspense62601466
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> TV, Movie, Video Game Adaptations45631497
Business & Money861041526
Politics & Social Sciences -> Social Sciences1022831578
Humor & Entertainment -> Humor102501582
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Family Life22101631
Education & Teaching173651684
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life8951687
Arts & Photography642951688
Children's Books -> Education & Reference13091691
Children's Books -> Early Learning22531725
Self-Help -> Motivational4921725
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Mental Health37731728
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Crime -> Murder142961772
Politics & Social Sciences -> Politics & Government112081791
Business & Money -> Marketing & Sales1075521804
Christian Books & Bibles -> Christian Living -> Inspirational3433651839
Religion & Spirituality -> Christian Books & Bibles -> Christian Living55151895
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery ->10923801900
Teens -> Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction -> Dystopian3736931942
Literature & Fiction -> Women's Fiction -> Domestic Life22141984
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Diets & Weight Loss563042029
Romance -> Paranormal -> Werewolves & Shifters503792051
Romance -> Werewolves & Shifters503792051
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Legal2916892179
History674742197
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Friendship, Social Skills & School Life -> Friendship93882207
Literature & Fiction -> United States -> African American376302212
Children's Books -> Activities, Crafts & Games584332219
Romance -> Military683952229
Medical Books -> Psychology281892239
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Spies & Politics3772251
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Friendship, Social Skills & School Life ->94082253
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery -> Women Sleuths76072254
Literature & Fiction -> United States ->937712261
Literature & Fiction -> African American446182269
Children's Books -> Literature & Fiction -> Chapter Books & Intermediate Readers16982276
Literature & Fiction -> Humor & Satire -> Humorous498142305
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue3642372
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense ->307752384
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense25712395
Romance -> Historical125552398
Religion & Spirituality -> Christian Books & Bibles58502414
Children's Books -> Classics464472427
Cookbooks, Food & Wine -> Special Diet1204352437
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Spies & Politics33712481
Children's Books -> Literature & Fiction -> Chapter Books & Readers27212507
Business & Money -> Personal Finance1281382543
Religion & Spirituality ->111962568
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Psychological Thrillers534252577
Teens -> Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy536742579
Children's Books -> Early Learning -> Basic Concepts23302585
Children's Books -> Activities, Crafts & Games -> Activity Books584692678
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction -> Science Fiction43602686
Self-Help -> Spiritual524092695
Religion & Spirituality -> New Age & Spirituality24242703
Christian Books & Bibles -> Christian Living -> Women's Issues4320142711
Religion & Spirituality -> New Age23811772716
Children's Books -> Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths955212719
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Science Fiction43602728
Biographies & Memoirs -> Specific Groups204292736
Textbooks -> Medicine & Health Sciences957522766
Biographies & Memoirs -> Memoirs261282780
History -> Americas -> United States6715302780
History -> United States6715302780
Crafts, Hobbies & Home695872781
Teens -> Science Fiction & Fantasy ->436582789
Literature & Fiction -> United States -> African American -> Urban938402836
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction -> Adventure43382844
Literature & Fiction -> United States -> African American ->399442851
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction -> Dystopian46012881
Self-Help -> Self-Esteem815692912
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Diets & Weight Loss -> Other Diets172162916
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Romantic136012917
Teens -> Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure16512362917
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery -> Cozy127602923
Christian Books & Bibles -> Literature & Fiction -> Romance17921142926
Christian Books & Bibles -> Romance17921142926
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thriller & Suspense25862950
Literature & Fiction -> African American -> Urban308492964
Politics & Social Sciences -> Philosophy -> Eastern -> Buddhism505872982
Religion & Spirituality -> Buddhism505872982
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery -> Police Procedurals16283067
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Fantasy4903080
Teens -> Romance -> Fantasy16827133116
Religion & Spirituality -> Spirituality -> Personal Transformation605713188
Children's Books -> Literature & Fiction -> Chapter Books & Readers -> Beginner Readers17913191
Test Preparation202713195
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Friendship, Social Skills & School Life -> School93173206
Romance -> Sports255603214
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Magic & Wizards139903235
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Coming of Age385503287
Biographies & Memoirs -> Arts & Literature2014473303
Education & Teaching -> Test Preparation177203306
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Coming of Age406703339
Reference -> Test Preparation153313364
Parenting & Relationships -> Parenting636893390
Education & Teaching -> Schools & Teaching43121003420
Politics & Social Sciences ->692053423
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Supernatural41343445
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Supernatural35513452
Textbooks -> Humanities3310413489
Comics & Graphic Novels20621793535
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Alternative Medicine697803542
Children's Books -> Science, Nature & How It Works119343545
Literature & Fiction -> United States -> African American -> Romance938603584
Romance -> Paranormal -> Vampires507803618
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy ->168383622
Christian Books & Bibles -> Christian Living -> Devotionals14968643733
Politics & Social Sciences -> Politics & Government ->1220903736
Literature & Fiction -> African American -> Romance308573763
Business & Money -> Industries135812533765
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Religious & Inspirational1211903806
Religion & Spirituality -> Religious & Inspirational1211903806
Literature & Fiction -> Contemporary181483816
Romance -> Paranormal ->569583816
Literature & Fiction -> Humor488143856
Science & Math -> Biological Sciences3517353856
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery -> Amateur Sleuths386983894
Teens -> Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Science Fiction16539443959
Teens -> Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction -> Science Fiction16539443959
Medical Books -> Medicine -> Internal Medicine616493965
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Friendship, Social Skills & School Life -> Friendship63363966
Business & Money -> Management & Leadership -> Leadership1615494017
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery317874038
Romance -> Vampires5410294045

How the List Works

The “Books” category on Amazon covers all books in any format: paperbacks, hardcovers, ebooks, and audiobooks.

In this list, we’re not tackling ebooks or audiobooks—just print sales, whether in paperback or hardcover form.

The numbers in the table in the #1, #20, and #100 column show you the Amazon Sales Ranking needed to achieve the 1st, 20th, and 100th position in that given category. You can use our free Amazon Book Sales Calculator tool to calculate how many sales are needed to achieve any of these given sales rankings.

To give you an idea of how competitive each category is, we’ve tracked the top, middle, and bottom books in each bestseller list: the #1 book is selling the most, the #20 book is doing pretty well as an average marker, and the #100 book has barely made it on the bestseller list for that category.

The number listed under each is where that book ranks in terms of overall Amazon sales—how popular is the book overall? For instance, you’d have to make it to #48 for overall sales across all books on Amazon just to be the #20 book in the Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense category!

We’ve organized the list based on which category sells the most books and how hard it is to rank in that category.

Note: Amazon’s sales rankings are updated hourly, so if you check the listings, the exact numbers and top titles may have changed. But in general, the bestselling categories stay pretty consistent, so this list will give you a good idea of what the most competitive print topics are.

 

Choosing the Right Category

choosing the right amazon categories

Although it’s important to choose a category where you can stand out, you also have to consider your reader. You want to choose a category where they’ll be looking for books like yours, so they’ll have an easier time finding you while browsing.

You also don’t want to promise one thing and then deliver another—a reader who thinks they’re going to get a certain type of book based on the category and description will be really disappointed to find a totally different book if you’ve mislabeled it. That can lead to bad reviews, which will hurt your overall sales.

It’s best to be clear and accurate rather than trying to game the category system just to get on a bestseller list.

If you really want to land a bestseller spot in an uncompetitive category, then write a book specifically for that category!

Choose the category that lines up best with the content of your book. For instance, if you’re writing a fantasy epic, you probably won’t want to choose Body, Mind, & Spirit > Supernatural—yes, it might be a story with supernatural characters, but that category is for nonfiction. Your epic fantasy novel would be better listed under Fiction > Fantasy > Epic, because that’s where readers will be looking for something like it.

How to Select Print Book Categories

There’s no direct method to place a print book into a category on Amazon like there is with a Kindle book—you can’t just upload a print book and tick boxes for the right categories, after all!

But there are a few easy ways to get your print book into the right categories.

CreateSpace

When you print a book through CreateSpace, you’ll be given the option to distribute your book. Always choose it!

When you do, you’ll move to the Distribute tab. Under Description, you have the option to select BISAC Category.

select Createspace BISAC categories

As always, choose the categories that best suit your book’s content.

Unlike on Kindle, you only have the opportunity to select one category for your book when publishing a print book through CreateSpace. So make your selection count!

Ingram Spark

If you’re publishing your print book through Ingram Spark, you have more opportunities to choose categories.

As you set up your book, you’ll be asked to choose categories just like on CreateSpace. Here, though, you can choose up to three categories!

select IngramSpark categories

Always start with the most specific category you can, then choose two others that also fit the topic of your book.

Think about how a reader might search for your book. What problem are they having that your book can solve? What interest of theirs are you appealing to? Figure out how a reader might search for your book and choose a category that follows that mental path.

Whenever you can choose more than one category, fill out all your options! This gives readers the most chances to find your work.

Other Ways to Change Categories on Amazon

If you’re using a different print service, your printer probably has a method similar to the ones used by CreateSpace and Ingram Spark to select categories for your book.

Choose the ones closest to the subject matter and you’re on your way!

You can also contact Amazon support directly and ask them to change your book to the categories that are most relevant.

change book categories by contacting Amazon support

[Source: Elizabeth Skene]

What We Can Learn from the List

There’s a lot to learn from looking at what categories are the most popular for print sales!

Much like the Kindle sales lists, fiction dominates. But nonfiction is really popular among print book buyers, too!

The most popular fiction category is Science Fiction & Fantasy, which makes sense—this is a super-popular genre! Next in line is Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense, another perennial favorite.

The most popular nonfiction category is Health, Fitness, & Dieting, followed closely by Self Help. Again, these have always been popular topics—everyone wants to lead a better, happier life!

So if you’re writing in those areas, you have the potential to tap into a huge audience for your work and to sell a lot of copies in print.

However, because these categories are so popular, it’s extraordinarily hard to rank on the print-based bestseller list, even at #100, and to rise up to top the charts. You’ll need to do great keyword targeting, market your book to the max, and still be prepared to never make it to #1.

Be Specific

Notice, though, that the more specific you get with a category, the easier it is to break into the top sales rankings. The more specific you are, the less competition you have.

So drill down into what really makes your book tick and choose the narrowest category you can—you’ll have a better shot at becoming an Amazon bestseller! Don’t just choose the broadest category hoping to appeal to the most readers—you’ll get lost in the crowd.

With a savvy publishing plan that includes ebook and audiobook sales, great networking, plenty of email list-building, and more, you’ll be well on your way to finding your niche and building a full-time author income.

Other Amazon Category Lists

We’ve already posted the 100 most competitive lists for Amazon Kindle, as well as the 100 least competitive lists for Kindle so you can check those out if you’re looking for even more awesome data on Amazon bestseller lists.

 

Do you sell print books? Share your tips in the comments!

Want to learn more about how to get your eBook, print books, and audiobooks to rank well on Amazon?

Learn more about the simple system for getting your books to rank on Amazon’s bestseller lists with Bestseller Ranking Pro.

 

For more on selling print books, read on:

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