The Real Best Sellers List

I was very interested to learn that New York Times’s respected Best Sellers List isn’t quite based on sales alone. Rather, the list is based on how many books are ordered from bookstores. So, obviously, the giants like Barnes and Noble, who have a lot of ordering power, will radically influence the list. However, if the books don’t sell, the bookstores simply return the covers (not the books, they’re thrown away) to the publisher but the list isn’t adjusted. Booksense, on the other hand, bases its Best Sellers list from actual sales from a number of independent bookstores’ reports.

To illustrate the differences, here are both lists for January so far:

NY Times Booksense
1. Plum Lovin’, by Janet Evanovich 1. You Suck, by Christopher Moore
2. Cross, by James Patterson 2. Plum Lovin’, by Janet Evanovich
3. For one more day, by Mitch Albom 3. Water for Elephants, by SaraGruen
4. The Hunters, by W. E. B. Griffin 4. Sacred Games, by Vikram Chandra
5. Shadow Dance, by Julie Garwood 5. For One More Day, by Mitch Albom
6. Exile, by Richard North Patterson 6. Dust, by Martha Grimes
7. Next, by Michael Crichton 7. Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky
8. Stalemate, by Iris Johansen 8. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
9. Dear John, by Nicholas Sparks. 9. Next, by Michael Crichton
10. Hannibal Rising, by Thomas Harris 10. Exile, by Richard North Patterson

Quite a difference, although we find a couple of the same books on each list (but not at the same place on the list). As for amazon’s best sellers list, it is based solely on their own sales, and is updated daily rather than weekly.

As far as I’m concerned, I have more faith in the booksense list than in the NY Times List, even though the latter is more prestigious.

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