Demystifying Amazon Categories, Themes and Keywords – Part 1 of 2

by | Nov 2, 2015 | Amazon Updates & Marketing Tips, Book Marketing Basics

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To most authors, Amazon is really confusing. There seems to never be a clear path to success and once there is some clarity, the path changes yet again. As an author AND marketer I feel your pain!

However, understanding how Amazon works is empowering, and I’ve made it my mission to help you decipher the site. In a two part series I’ll discuss the differences between keywords, categories, and themes on Amazon. And how you can implement them to your book’s advantage!

The first step to unraveling Amazon is to think of it as a search engine. By framing Amazon in this light, it will be easier to understand how to correctly use keywords, categories, and themes to make your book standout amongst the crowd.Demystifying Keywords

Bonus Tip: Amazon is actually two sites: one for print books, and one for eBooks (this is the Kindle Store).

Amazon has categories for both print and eBooks, which are vastly different. That’s because the print categories are based on an industry standard of categorizing and sorting books — a standard used by e-stores and brick-and-mortar stores alike–called BISAC.

Understanding that Amazon is a search engine is most useful in the Kindle store. Here, categories are based on the things Amazon has learned we are looking for, which comes from years of data collected by Amazon’s search engine. The important difference to understand is that print categories are limited (again, based off the BISAC categories), whereas eBook categories are unlimited (influenced by previous user searches). For that reason, I would devote your energy to monitoring and selecting eBook categories.

Keeping in mind the unlimited options in the Kindle store, let’s dive in and learn more about this part of Amazon.

How to do it: Go to, highlight “Kindle Store” in the dropdown bar and (leaving the search bar blank) hit “go.” now you can peruse new categories and find one that’s an exact right match for your book.

Something to keep in mind: you should monitor the categories available on Amazon. There may be new categories which work better for your book in the future. Here’s why: categories often get weighed down, especially if a new trend takes over your particular category. You want to make sure that you are selecting categories that will help your title to stand out.

You can change your categories through your KDP dashboard, or by contacting Amazon directly through your Amazon Author Central page. Just click on help and send them an email. The Author Central folks are super helpful and can assist you with just about anything you need. Email them the two categories you want and they’ll make the change for you!

Keep an eye out for Part 2,  later this week!


  1. mnmarcus

    If you pick the right categories, it’s easy to have a bestseller.

    • Penny Sansevieri

      You are so right – selecting the right categories can make such a difference in your book’s visibility! I hope that this article can help authors to understand how to best select categories on Amazon to help their book succeed.



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