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 Times editors 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 Blatty sued the Times for $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.
|1||The Girl on the Train (Trade Paperback)||Paula Hawkins||Riverhead Books||7/1/2016|
|2||See Me (Trade Paperback)||Nicholas Sparks||Grand Central Publishing||8/1/2016|
|3||The Girl on the Train (MM Paperback)||Paula Hawkins||Penguin Books||8/1/2016|
|4||Rogue Lawyer (MM Paperback)||John Grisham||Dell||7/1/2016|
|5||To Kill a Mockingbird (MM Paperback)||Harper Lee||Grand Central Publishing||10/1/1988|
|6||The Underground Railroad (Hardcover)||Colson Whitehead||Doubleday Books||8/1/2016|
|7||A Girl’s Guide to Moving On (MM Paperback)||Debbie Macomber||Random||8/1/2016|
|8||After You (Trade Paperback)||Jojo Moyes||Penguin Books||7/1/2016|
|9||The Girl on the Train (Trade Paperback)||Paula Hawkins||Penguin Books||8/1/2016|
|10||A Man Called Ove (Trade Paperback)||Frederik Backman||Washington Square Press||5/1/2015|
|1||The Girl with the Lower Back T (Hardcover)||Amy Schumer||Gallery Books||8/1/2016|
|2||Uninvited (Trade Paperback)||Lysa Terkeurst||Thomas Nelson||8/1/2016|
|3||The Constitution of the United (Trade Paperback)||National Center for Constitution||National Center for Constituti||1/1/2005|
|4||Hillbilly Elegy (Hardcover)||J.D. Vance||Harper||6/1/2016|
|5||Strengths Finder 2.0 (Hardcover)||Tom Rath||Gallup Press||2/1/2007|
|6||Night (Trade Paperback)||Elie Wiesel||Hill & Wang||1/1/2006|
|7||Milk and Honey (Trade Paperback)||Rupi Kaur||Andrews McMeel Publishing||10/1/2015|
|8||Magical Jungle (Trade Paperback)||Johanna Basford||Penguin Books||8/1/2016|
|9||In Trump We Trust (Hardcover)||Ann H. Coulter||Sentinel||8/1/2016|
|10||You Are a Badass (Trade Paperback)||Jen Sincero||Running Press Book Publishers||4/1/2013|