The_Girl_On_The_Train_(US_cover_2015)Amazon has just shared its best-selling books of 2015. Given Amazon’s market dominance, these essentially represent the year’s most popular titles in the U.S. And the list contains few surprises, and some disappointments – in human nature.

Amazon’s top 20 sellers for the year are:

  1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  2. Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian by E.L. James
  3. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  5. Memory Man by David Baldacci
  6. Make Me: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child
  7. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham
  8. The Girl in the Spider’s Web: Millennium Series Book 4 by David Lagercrantz
  9. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
  10. Silent Scream by Angela Marsons
  11. 14th Deadly Sin (Women’s Murder Club) by James Patterson with Maxine Paetro
  12. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book Ten: Old School by Jeff Kinney
  13. Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford
  14. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
  15. Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns by Blue Star Coloring
  16. The Liar by Nora Roberts
  17. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  18. The Crossing by Michael Connelly
  19. The Stranger by Harlan Coben
  20. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Yes, there’s no sign of the Grey phenomenon dying away just yet. And to confirm the hammerlock that softcore, soft-center erotica and romance has on the American reading public, Amazon quotes teen fantasy romance title The Heir: Book Four of the Selection Series by Kiera Cass, as its top-selling Kindle teen title of 2015.

The Girl on the Train‘s top position on Amazon’s chart might give some crumb of comfort to believers in popular taste, perhaps confirmed by the presence of Erik Larson and David McCullough’s history titles on the list. But the Number Three rating for Go Set a Watchman confirms that there isn’t a tawdry promotional scam that won’t find an audience out there somewhere. Kindle customers at least showed a little more taste: according to Amazon, “the best-selling print book of 2015 was Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee; the best-selling Kindle book was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.” Meanwhile, David Baldacci, John Grisham, and James Patterson (with Maxine Paetro) are right up there.

Amazon’s platform does at least allow some further nuancing of the popularity stakes. Problem is, it just repeats the same pattern. “Go Set a Watchman, was the Most Gifted Book of the year. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, was also the Most Wished For, followed by Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.”

Judging by Amazon’s own list, digital disruption and the self-publishing revolution look to have had next to zero impact on popular taste. This is the dragon that the Authors Guild and sundry other lackeys of Big Publishing railed against? Go back to bed, America: your Big Five are in control again.


  1. I read ‘The Liar’ and it was terrible, trite and predictable. I also read a column by a romance author blogger who complained about a best-selling author who really dropped the ball this year, and reading her description of it, I am sure it was this one. Nora Roberts has way better books than this.

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