Here are a couple things I found interesting about him. Although he was stepfather to his second wife, Audrey’s, two daughters, he fathered no children of his own. He didn’t really want any children. In fact, he didn’t even like to spend any time with them.
In an interview a few years ago his widow, Audrey, pointed out that he was a little afraid of them. She said he was always thinking: “What might they do next? What might they ask next?” She added: “He couldn’t just sit down on the floor and play with them.”
When Dr. Seuss was asked how he could connect with children in spite of not having his own, his stock answer was, “You have ‘em, and I’ll entertain ‘em.”
Dr. Seuss had permanent stage fright because of Teddy Roosevelt.
During World War I, 14-year-old Ted Geisel was one of Springfield’s top sellers of war bonds. Because of that he was to be given an award by former president, Theodore Roosevelt. Standing on stage in front of an audience of thousands, Ted was the last of 10 Boy Scouts waiting for the reward. A mistake was made and the president was only given nine medals. When he reached Geisel, Roosevelt gruffly bellowed, “What’s this little boy doing here?” Ted’s smile turned to shock as he was quickly ushered off the stage. From that day on Dr. Seuss dreaded any public appearance.
Often, when people want to read and/or buy a book they will look at the current New York Times,Barnes and Noble or Amazon best seller lists. A Stanford Business School study suggested that the “majority of book buyers seem to use the Times‘ list as a signal of what’s worth reading.” However best seller lists are often inaccurate. The Amazon and Barnes and Noble lists are merely reflections of their own sales and do not include sales from other retailers. The New York Times lists for one reason or another might not include books that are actually best sellers. A book that sells well in a single week might be on the list, while a book that sells the same number of copies over time, might not. A book by Ted Cruz, A Time For Truth was excluded from the list because the “overwhelming preponderance of evidence was that sales… were limited to strategic bulk purchases” to artificially enter the list. Often books are counted twice because the Timeseditors collect data from both retailers and wholesalers. Thus a book sold by a wholesaler to a book store will often be counted first by the wholesaler, then a second time by the retailer. In 1983, author William Peter Blattysued the Timesfor $6 million, claiming his book, Legion was excluded from the list due to either negligence or intentional falsehood, saying its high sales should have been enough for inclusion. The Times pointed out that the list was not mathematically objective. but was actually editorial content and Constitutionally protected as free speech. Blatty appealed it to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case. The lower court’s ruling stood that the list is editorial content, not factual content and the Times had the right to exclude books from the list.
Almost any Best Seller list can be manipulated, usually by purchasing a large number of copies. However, there are two lists that are a more accurate measure of best-selling books: The USA today best sellers list and the Nielsen Top Ten List. Both are weekly compilations of actual cash register sales. Both lists are published on Thursdays. The Nielsen list includes data from more than 4,500 retailers including independent booksellers, chains such as Barnes and Noble, and other retailers such as Costco and Walmart. Every week I’ll reprint the Nielsen Fiction and Non-Fiction lists.
Just because a book is on a popular best seller list does not mean the book has actually been read. However, there is a list you might want to consider: The Goodreads list of popular books. It’s a list that attempts to measure the popularity of books that have been read by Goodreads members. Along the same lines there are the “popularity” lists at Library Thing: Hot This Month and What Members are Reading. You’ll need to be a member to view either the Goodreads or Library Thing lists, but membership is free.