Monday, February 20, 2006

Bestseller Lists Clogged With Bestsellers

A few years ago, an hysterical book industry pressured the New York Times into eliminating childrens' books from the Bestseller Lists. Why? Because the once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon Harry Potter was taking up three slots on the hardcover list. (This was at the height of Potter-mania, with a movie coming out and three books released in rapid succession since we were catching up with the UK.) It was an idiotic, random decision -- imagine if the box office Top Ten didn't include animated films because they were too popular. The bestseller list should include the bestsellers, from whatever genre. A quick glance at the charts shows plenty of other books "clogging" up the lists. The Da Vinci Code is at #2 and will be on the charts for three years in just a few weeks. On the nonfiction list, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell has made itself at home for more than a year. The paperback list is even crazier: reader group favorite The Kite Runner has been on the list for a year and a half, Angels & Demons by Dan Brown more than two years, Gladwell's The Tipping Point for a year and a half, The Devil in the White City for almost two years, and Guns Germs and Steel and Tuesdays With Morrie for three years.


Anonymous said...

The NYT won't list children's books in the bestseller list even if they sell enough copies? Odd. Any other genres they block out?

Michael in New York said...

They also don't include sales of Bibles -- group, bulk buys don't count anyway, so churches buying them to restock pews would never be included anyway. But individual sales only go into the Inspirationalreligious chart. Doesn't usually matter since sles are spread out over so many different titles I ASSUME that no single version would make the list. But if, say, a new version comes out and did sell enought to stay on the bestseller list, it should be included. But under Fiction of Nonfiction? That's another problem they avoid by isolating it. The Tao De Ching? Fiction or nonfiction? Oy, such choices.