Amazon’s book categories are an essential detail to consider in order to get the most out of your product listing. These categories allow target customers to find your book more easily in the jungle of relentless competition.
In this complete guide to Amazon book categories, we will cover:
- Why Amazon book categories matter
- How to find and select the perfect categories
- How to unlock additional categories
- And much more
Let’s get started.
How Amazon Book Categories Work
Amazon Browser Categories are similar to topic sections in a bookstore or library. They allow readers to search for books in a specific genre, which makes it easier for them to find specific books.
There are currently more than 16,000 different browser categories on Amazon, ranging from broad topics like Science Fiction, to very specific subcategories, like Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction.
Importance of Book Categories
So, why should you care about Amazon book categories as an author? Using the right categories to list your book allows you to reach more potential customers and improve your overall sales performance. Here’s why:
Readers explore categories when searching for books about a particular topic or within a certain genre. Books within a browser category are automatically ranked according to their popularity. Placing your book in a relevant category increases the chance of your target audience finding it.
When you view a book on Amazon, the site will always suggest related products in the “Product Related to This Item” and “Explore Similar Books” sections.
Amazon’s search algorithm uses a combination of product categories and relevance to generate these suggestions. The frequency in which these books are displayed in these suggestions depends on the click-through and purchase rate. Once again, choosing relevant categories means you can attract more potential customers.
For this reason, you should not choose unrelated categories to improve your position. In the long run, Amazon will stop recommending your book.
Amazon automatically ranks books within categories based on their sales over a specific period of time. These lists of bestsellers or hot new releases allow users to quickly discover which books are popular.
A top position or even a bestseller badge within a category can increase your conversion rate significantly. This powerful effect, known in sales psychology as social proof, builds trust and makes buying decisions easier.
Browser Categories vs. BISAC Categories
When publishing your book through Amazon KDP, the categories you select during title setup are not Amazon categories. These are actually BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications Code) categories.
BISAC categories are based on a universal system of classifying book genres and topics. This industry-accepted standard list of categories is used by all common bookstores, libraries, online stores, and major publishing houses.
The problem is that there are more than 16,000 Amazon browser categories, but only about 4,000 BISAC categories. So, Amazon will automatically try to place your book in relevant browser categories based on the selected BISAC categories and metadata such as title, keywords, etc.
How to Find Matching BISAC Categories
The category browser that Amazon provides during title setup can be confusing and overwhelming. For that reason, I recommend using our Amazon KDP Book Category Finder. This tool allows you to quickly discover relevant categories using keywords.
In the first step, you enter a keyword that describes the topic of your book.
Then, all BISAC categories are listed according to their relevance.
You can simply follow the provided chain to select the category in your KDP title setup.
After publishing, you should always double-check that your book has actually ended up in the correct category.
Note: The two BISAC categories you have selected for your book can be adjusted at any time, even if your book has already been published.
How to choose winning Book Categories
In some cases, Amazon places your book in an unrelated category, or you may not be able to find a matching BISAC chain. In the following section, we will go over how to find the best categories, analyze them, and apply them to your book.
1. Create a List of Matching Categories
In the first step, you will build a list of relevant categories for your book. For this research, I have developed a dynamic spreadsheet to help.
To use my Google Spreadsheet with all its features, click on “File” in the top bar and select “Make a Copy.” This will create your own copy that you can completely customize with your ideas.
The easiest way to find suitable categories is to browse through Amazon’s marketplace categories. Start your research on the Amazon book bestseller list. On the left side, you can find an overview of the different book categories.
At this point, you should simply ask yourself which category best describes your book’s main topic or storyline. Once you have selected a suitable main category, you can work your way through the available subcategories.
For example, let’s say you want to publish a food allergy nutrition guide. In this case, the category “Health, Fitness & Dieting > Nutrition > Food Allergies” would describe your book pretty accurately.
Pro Tip: Collect matching category chains in the following format: “Main Category > Subcategory > Subcategory.” This allows Amazon KDP support to find your category much faster and more accurately when needed.
Collect all relevant categories you discover in the provided spreadsheet. In addition, you should save the link to the category bestseller list for your future research.
Another great option to quickly discover suitable categories is to search from the customer’s perspective. Simply enter a search term that describes your book in the Amazon search bar and select “Books” as product type.
Now, choose any book in the search results that is similar to yours. Scroll down the product details page until you reach the “Product Details” section.
Here, you will find an overview of the indexed book categories. Clicking on a category will take you back to the specific bestseller list with its complete category chain.
Repeat this step for the leading books in the search results to identify a broad selection of possible categories.
2. Analyze Demand & Competition
Next, you need to identify which of the categories you have collected will offer you the best chance of success. You should try to find a balance between beatable competition and solid demand. The easiest way to break down both factors is to look at the sales figures of the leading products in a given category.
Identify Bestseller Rank
To identify the bestseller rank, return to the bestseller list within a category and select a specific product. Scroll down the product page until you reach the “Product Details” section. Here, you can find the book’s Amazon Best Seller Rank.
Note: Only the overall bestseller rank is relevant for the following calculation. Calculations based on the bestseller ranks of the listed categories do not provide accurate results.
Calculate Sales Volume
Now, you can copy the book’s BSR number and enter it into the Amazon KDP Sales Calculator. This gives you the number of sales you need to achieve that given sales rank.
Do this calculation for the top five books in each category and add your results to the spreadsheet.
Finally, try to identify the categories with a decent potential for sales but without too much competition. Avoid categories that are overly saturated and categories with no demand.
3. Apply the Best Book Categories
To place your book in the desired categories, you have to send a quick request to KDP support. To do so, visit the KDP Support Center at https://kdp.amazon.com/contact-us.
Now, click in the left sidebar on “Amazon Store & Product Detail Page” and then select “Update Amazon Categories.”
This opens a form where you can describe your category request. You will have to provide the following information:
- ASIN or ISBN
- Book type (paperback, hardcover, ebook, etc.)
- Categories to be added
- Categories to be removed (optional)
For example, a category request could look like this:
Please update the browser categories for the following book:
Book type: Paperback
Categories to be added:
Health, Fitness & Dieting > Nutrition > Food Allergies
Categories to be removed:
Health, Fitness & Dieting > Diets & Weight Loss > Weight Loss
After you have added all the necessary details to your request, hit the “Send Message” button. In most cases, you should receive a response to your request from KDP Support within 24 hours. Any updates to browser categories usually appear after 72 hours.
4. Add up to 8 Additional Categories
Did you know that you are not limited to just two categories? In total, you have the possibility to add up to eight bonus categories per book.
All you have to do is follow the same steps from the previous section. You will need to fill out the KDP support form with your book information and all the categories you want to add. This allows you to create even more visibility and reach more potential customers for your book.
Please keep in mind that you should only select relevant topics and genres for your additional categories. You should not try to add unrelated categories just to fulfill all possibilities.
Once your categories have been updated, you might wonder why they don’t show up on your book’s details page. This is because Amazon only displays 2-4 categories for each product. Nevertheless, there is a clever tool called Category Hunter that reveals every single category attached to a book. This tool can also be quite useful when conducting competitor research.
Critical Details that Matter
The impact of Amazon’s book categories is underutilized by some publishers. By using the right categories, you’ll draw more relevant eyeballs to your book. For this reason, you should not forget this important piece in the puzzle of optimization, as it can be a small but powerful factor in your book’s chances of success.