Best-Selling Ebooks of 2012

Would a Fifty Shades-Hunger Games mash-up be the most popular ebook of all time? Graphic by Todd Goldstein

It was the year of erotic romance and young adult when it comes to ebook sales.

The top six best-selling ebooks of 2012 are all part of the Fifty Shades and Hunger Games trilogies. One interesting thing about these two trilogies as top sellers is that one is all about sex and discretely for adults and the other awkwardly avoids mentions of sex and was directed toward a younger audience.

At the same time, they are connected in that the ability to buy them through their reading devices and read them privately helped propel their success. Would Fifty Shades been nearly as popular if readers had to enter bookstores to buy the books and display that they were reading them every time they did? Would Hunger Games have been as popular if readers had to visit the children’s section of a bookstore to buy them?

We’ll never know. But, undoubtedly, the rise of e-reading helped drive each of these titles to incredible sales.

One other interesting thing to note about the top 25 best-selling ebooks of the year is that 17 out of the 25 titles are published by either Random House or Penguin, about two-thirds of the titles. If the two companies combine next year and have similar success, they will control most of the best-sellers.

See more ebook best-seller lists here. Scroll all the way down for a larger version of the Fifty Shades-Hunger Games graphic from Todd Goldstein.

We’ll be analyzing things we’ve learned from monitoring ebook best-sellers and busting myths about ebook sales during a special 20-minute keynote presentation at the Digital Book World Conference + Expo in Jan. in New York.

Top 25 Ebook Best-Sellers of 2012
Rank Title Author Publisher  Price* Random-Penguin?
1 Fifty Shades Of Grey: Book One Of The Fifty Shades Trilogy E. L. James Random House  $    9.99 Yes
2 Fifty Shades Darker: Book Two Of The Fifty Shades Trilogy E. L. James Random House  $    9.99 Yes
3 Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three of the Fifty Shades Trilogy E. L. James Random House  $    9.99 Yes
4 The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games Trilogy – Book 1) Suzanne Collins Scholastic  $    5.00 No
5 Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Trilogy – Book 2) Suzanne Collins Scholastic  $    5.99 No
6 Mockingjay (The Hunger Games Trilogy – Book 3) Suzanne Collins Scholastic  $    5.99 No
7 Gone Girl: A Novel Gillian Flynn Random House  $   12.99 Yes
8 The Hunger Games Trilogy Suzanne Collins Scholastic  $   18.99 No
9 Bared to You: A Crossfire Novel Sylvia Day Penguin  $    9.99 Yes
10 Defending Jacob: A Novel William Landay Random House  $   13.99 Yes
11 A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five George R.R. Martin Random House  $   14.99 Yes
12 Fifty Shades Trilogy Bundle: Fifty Shades of Grey; Fifty Shades Darker; Fifty Shades Freed E. L. James Random House  $   29.99 Yes
13 Reflected in You: A Crossfire Novel Sylvia Day Penguin  $    9.99 Yes
14 A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) George R. R. Martin Random House  $    8.99 Yes
15 Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand Random House  $   12.99 Yes
16 The Help Kathryn Stockett Penguin  $   12.99 Yes
17 The Lucky One Nicholas Sparks Hachette  $    5.99 No
18 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium Trilogy Series #3) Stieg Larsson Random House  $    9.99 Yes
19 Divergent Veronica Roth HarperCollins  $    6.56 No
20 The Racketeer John Grisham Random House  $   12.99 Yes
21 The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy: #2) : Book Two of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy Nora Roberts Penguin  $    9.99 Yes
22 11/22/1963 Stephen King Simon & Schuster  $    3.99 No
23 Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back Todd Burpo; Sonja Burpo; Lynn Vincent; Colton Burpo HarperCollins  $    8.50 No
24 Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever Bill O’Reilly; Martin Dugard Macmillan  $   12.99 No
25 The Perfect Hope: Book Three of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy (The Inn Trilogy) Nora Roberts Penguin  $    9.99 Yes

* Price is lowest found at each of the retailers we measure throughout the year. See our full methodology here.


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