Bestseller

Bestseller

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A bestseller is a book
Book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

 that is identified as extremely popular by its inclusion on lists of currently top selling titles that are based on publishing industry and book trade figures and published by newspapers, magazines, or bookstore chains. Some lists are broken down into classifications and specialities (number one best selling new cookbook, novel, nonfiction, etc.). The New York Times Best Seller list
New York Times Best Seller list
The New York Times Best Seller list is widely considered the preeminent list of best-selling books in the United States. It is published weekly in The New York Times Book Review magazine, which is published in the Sunday edition of The New York Times and as a stand-alone publication...

 is one of the best-known bestseller lists for the US. The New York Times Best Seller list only tracks National and Independent book stores; it does not include sales from Internet retailers.

In everyday use, the term bestseller is not usually associated with a specified level of sales
Sales
A sale is the act of selling a product or service in return for money or other compensation. It is an act of completion of a commercial activity....

, and may be used very loosely indeed in publisher's publicity. Bestsellers tend not to be books considered of superior academic
Academia
Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research.-Etymology:The word comes from the akademeia in ancient Greece. Outside the city walls of Athens, the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning...

 value or literary quality
Literary merit
Literary merit is a quality generally applied to the genre of literary fiction. A work is said to have literary merit if it is a work of quality, that is if it has some aesthetic value....

, though there are exceptions. Lists simply give the highest-selling titles in the category over the stated period. Some books have sold many more copies than contemporary "bestsellers", but over a long period of time.

Blockbuster
Blockbuster (entertainment)
Blockbuster, as applied to film or theatre, denotes a very popular or successful production. The entertainment industry use was originally theatrical slang referring to a particularly successful play but is now used primarily by the film industry...

s for film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

s and chart-toppers in recorded music are similar terms, although, in film and music, these measures generally are related to industry sales figures for attendance, requests, broadcast plays, or units sold.

Particularly in the case of novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

s, a large budget, and a chain of literary agent
Literary agent
A literary agent is an agent who represents writers and their written works to publishers, theatrical producers and film producers and assists in the sale and deal negotiation of the same. Literary agents most often represent novelists, screenwriters and major non-fiction writers...

s, editor
Editing
Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written, visual, audible, and film media used to convey information through the processes of correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate, and complete...

s, publishers, reviewers, retailers, and marketing
Marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

 efforts are involved in "making" bestsellers.

Early bestsellers


'Bestseller' is a relatively recent term, first recorded in print in 1889 in the Kansas City
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

 newspaper The Kansas Times & Star, but the phenomenon of immediate popularity goes back to the early days of mass production of printed books. For earlier books, when the maximum number of copies that would be printed was relatively small, a count of editions is the best way to assess sales. Since effective copyright was slow to take hold, many editions were pirated well into the period of the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

, and without effective royalty systems in place, authors often saw little, if any, of the revenues for their popular works.

The earliest highly popular books were nearly all religious, but the bible, as a large book, remained expensive until the nineteenth century. This tended to keep the numbers printed and sold, low. Unlike today, it was important for a book to be short to be a bestseller, or it would be too expensive to reach a large audience. Very short works such as Ars moriendi
Ars moriendi
The Ars moriendi are two related Latin texts dating from about 1415 and 1450 which offer advice on the protocols and procedures of a good death, explaining how to "die well" according to Christian precepts of the late Middle Ages...

, the Biblia pauperum
Biblia pauperum
The Biblia pauperum was a tradition of picture Bibles beginning in the later Middle Ages. They sought to portray the historical books of the Bible visually. Unlike a simple "illustrated Bible", where the pictures are subordinated to the text, these Bibles placed the illustration in the centre,...

, and versions of the Apocalypse
Apocalypse
An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

were published as cheap block-books in large numbers of different editions in several languages in the fifteenth century. These were probably affordable items for most of the minority of literate members of the population. In 16th and 17th century England Pilgrim's Progress (1678) and abridged versions of Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
The Book of Martyrs, by John Foxe, more accurately Acts and Monuments, is an account from a Protestant point of view of Christian church history and martyrology...

were the most broadly read books. Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe is a novel by Daniel Defoe that was first published in 1719. Epistolary, confessional, and didactic in form, the book is a fictional autobiography of the title character—a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical island near Trinidad, encountering cannibals, captives, and...

(1719) and The Adventures of Roderick Random
The Adventures of Roderick Random
The Adventures of Roderick Random is a picaresque novel by Tobias Smollett, first published in 1748. It is partially based on Smollett's experience as a naval-surgeon’s mate in the British Navy, especially during Battle of Cartagena de Indias in 1741...

(1748) were early eighteenth century short novels with very large publication numbers, as well as gaining international success.

Tristram Shandy, a rather long novel by Laurence Sterne
Laurence Sterne
Laurence Sterne was an Irish novelist and an Anglican clergyman. He is best known for his novels The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, and A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy; but he also published many sermons, wrote memoirs, and was involved in local politics...

, became a "cult" object in England and throughout Europe, with important cultural consequences among those who could afford to purchase books during the era of its publication. The same could be said of the works of Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, particularly his comedic and philosophically satirical novel, Candide
Candide
Candide, ou l'Optimisme is a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best ; Candide: or, The Optimist ; and Candide: or, Optimism...

, which, according to recent research, sold more than 20,000 copies in its first month alone in 1759. Likewise, fellow French Enlightenment author Rousseau, especially his Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, or the New Héloïse is an epistolary novel by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, published in 1761 by Marc-Michel Rey in . The original edition was entitled Lettres de deux amans habitans d'une petite ville au pied des Alpes .The novel’s subtitle points to the history of Héloïse d’Argenteuil and Pierre...

(1761) and of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

's novel, Die Leiden des jungen Werther (The Sorrows of Young Werther
The Sorrows of Young Werther
The Sorrows of Young Werther is an epistolary and loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774; a revised edition of the novel was published in 1787...

) (1774). As with some modern bestsellers, Werther spawned what today would be called a spin-off
Spin-off (media)
In media, a spin-off is a radio program, television program, video game, or any narrative work, derived from one or more already existing works, that focuses, in particular, in more detail on one aspect of that original work...

 industry with items such as Werther eau de cologne and porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

 puppets depicting the main characters, being sold in large numbers.

By the time of Byron and Sir Walter Scott
Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....

, effective copyright laws existed, at least in England, and many authors depended heavily on their income from their large royalties. America remained a zone of piracy until the mid-nineteenth century, a fact of which Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 and Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

 bitterly complained. By the middle of the 19th century, a situation akin to modern publication had emerged, where most bestsellers were written for a popular taste and are now almost entirely forgotten, with odd exceptions such as East Lynne
East Lynne
East Lynne is an English sensation novel of 1861 by Ellen Wood. East Lynne was a Victorian bestseller. It is remembered chiefly for its elaborate and implausible plot, centering on infidelity and double identities...

(remembered only for the line "Gone, gone, and never called me mother!"), the wildly popular Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War", according to Will Kaufman....

, and Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

.

Description and types of bestseller


Bestsellers are usually separated into fiction
Fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

 and non-fiction
Non-fiction
Non-fiction is the form of any narrative, account, or other communicative work whose assertions and descriptions are understood to be fact...

 categories. Different list compilers have created a number of other subcategories. The New York Times was reported to have started its "Children's Books" section in 2001 just to move the Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

 books out of the No. 1, 2, and 3 positions on their fiction chart, which the then three-book series had monopolized for over a year.

Bestsellers also may be ranked separately for hardcover
Hardcover
A hardcover, hardback or hardbound is a book bound with rigid protective covers...

 and paperback
Paperback
Paperback, softback or softcover describe and refer to a book by the nature of its binding. The covers of such books are usually made of paper or paperboard, and are usually held together with glue rather than stitches or staples...

 editions. Typically, a hardcover edition appears first, followed in months or years by the much less expensive paperback version. Hardcover bestseller status may hasten the paperback release of the same, or slow the release, if hardcover sales are brisk enough. Some lists even have a third category, trade paperback bestsellers.

In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, a hardcover book could be considered a "bestseller" with sales ranging from 4,000 to 25,000 copies per week, and in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the rule of thumb
Rule of thumb
A rule of thumb is a principle with broad application that is not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation. It is an easily learned and easily applied procedure for approximately calculating or recalling some value, or for making some determination...

 is 5,000 copies sold. There are many "bestseller lists" that display anywhere from 10 to 150 titles.

Differences among lists


Bestseller lists may vary widely, depending on the method used for calculating sales. The Book Sense
Book Sense
Book Sense was a marketing and branding program of the American Booksellers Association, in which many independent bookstores across North America participated in order to better compete with the large book chains. Bookstores participating in the Book Sense program were expected to display the Book...

 bestseller lists, for example, use only sales numbers, provided by independently owned (non-chain) bookstores, while the New York Times list includes both wholesale and retail sales from a variety of sources. A book that sells well in gift shops and grocery stores may hit a New York Times list without ever appearing on a Book Sense list. USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

 has only one list, not separated into fiction/non-fiction and hardcover/paperback, so that relative sales among these categories can be ascertained.

Lists from Amazon.com
Amazon.com
Amazon.com, Inc. is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has separate websites for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and...

, the dominant on-line book retailer, are based only on sales from their own Web site, and are updated on an hourly basis. Wholesale sales figures are not factored into Amazon's calculations. Numerous Web sites offer advice for authors about a temporary method to boost their book higher on Amazon's list using carefully timed buying campaigns that take advantage of the frequent adjustments to rankings. For example, faith healing
Faith healing
Faith healing is healing through spiritual means. The healing of a person is brought about by religious faith through prayer and/or rituals that, according to adherents, stimulate a divine presence and power toward correcting disease and disability. Belief in divine intervention in illness or...

 author Zhi Gang Sha
Zhi Gang Sha
Zhi Gang Sha is a spiritual healer who claims "the Divine" has given him the power to download "soul software" and heal a range of ailments....

 has used this method to create a number of #1 bestsellers. The brief sales spike allows authors to tout that their book was an "Amazon.com top 100 seller" in marketing materials for books that actually have relatively low sales. Eventually book buyers may begin to recognize the relative differences among lists and settle upon which lists they will consult to determine their purchases.

The weight and price of a book may affect its positioning on lists. The Amazon.com list tends to favor hardcover
Hardcover
A hardcover, hardback or hardbound is a book bound with rigid protective covers...

, more expensive books, where the shipping charge is a smaller percentage of the overall purchase price or is sometimes free, and which tend to be more deeply discounted than paperbacks. Inexpensive mass market paperbacks tend to do better on the New York Times list than on Amazon's. Book Sense and Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly, aka PW, is an American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents...

separate mass market paperbacks onto their own list.

Category structure affects the positioning of a book in other ways. A book that might be buried on the Book Sense hardcover fiction list could be positioned very well on the New York Times hardcover advice list or the Publishers Weekly religion hardcover list.

Verifiability


Bestseller reports from companies such as Amazon.com, which appear to be based strictly on auditable sales to the public, may be at odds with bestseller lists compiled from more casual data, such as the New York Times lists' survey
Statistical survey
Survey methodology is the field that studies surveys, that is, the sample of individuals from a population with a view towards making statistical inferences about the population using the sample. Polls about public opinion, such as political beliefs, are reported in the news media in democracies....

 of retailers
Retailing
Retail consists of the sale of physical goods or merchandise from a fixed location, such as a department store, boutique or kiosk, or by mail, in small or individual lots for direct consumption by the purchaser. Retailing may include subordinated services, such as delivery. Purchasers may be...

 and publishers. The exact method for ranking the New York Times bestseller lists is a closely guarded secret.

This situation suggests a similar one in the area of popular music
Popular music
Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

. In 1991, Billboard magazine switched its chart
Chart
A chart is a graphical representation of data, in which "the data is represented by symbols, such as bars in a bar chart, lines in a line chart, or slices in a pie chart"...

 data from manual reports filed by stores, to automated cash register
Cash register
A cash register or till is a mechanical or electronic device for calculating and recording sales transactions, and an attached cash drawer for storing cash...

 data collected by a service called SoundScan. The conversion saw a dramatic shake-up in chart content from one week to the next.

Today, many lists come from automated sources. Booksellers may use their POS (point-of-sale)
Point of sale
Point of sale or checkout is the location where a transaction occurs...

 systems to report automatically to Book Sense. Wholesalers such as the giant Ingram Content Group have bestseller calculations similar to Amazon's, but they are available only to subscribing retailers. Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble, Inc. is the largest book retailer in the United States, operating mainly through its Barnes & Noble Booksellers chain of bookstores headquartered at 122 Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron District in Manhattan in New York City. Barnes & Noble also operated the chain of small B. Dalton...

 and other large retail chains collect sales data from retail outlets and their Web sites to build their own bestseller lists.

Nielsen BookScan
Nielsen BookScan
Nielsen BookScan is a data provider for the book publishing industry, owned by the Nielsen Company. BookScan compiles point of sale data for book sales.-History:...

 U.S. is perhaps the most aggressive attempt to produce a completely automatic and trusted set of bestseller lists. They claim to be gathering data directly from cash registers at more than 4,500 retail locations, including independent bookstore
Independent bookstore
An independent bookstore is a retail bookstore which is independently owned.-Literary and countercultural history:Author events at independent bookstores sometimes take the role of literary salons. The bookstores themselves, "have historically supported and cultivated the work of independent...

s, large chains such as Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble, Inc. is the largest book retailer in the United States, operating mainly through its Barnes & Noble Booksellers chain of bookstores headquartered at 122 Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron District in Manhattan in New York City. Barnes & Noble also operated the chain of small B. Dalton...

, Powell's Books
Powell's Books
Powell's Books is a chain of bookstores in Oregon's Portland metropolitan area. Powell's headquarters, dubbed Powell's City of Books, claims to be the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. Powell's City of Books is located in the Pearl District on the edge of downtown and...

, and Borders
Borders Group
Borders Group, Inc. was an international book and music retailer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The company employed approximately 19,500 throughout the U.S., primarily in its Borders and Waldenbooks stores....

, and the general retailer Costco
Costco
Costco Wholesale Corporation is the largest membership warehouse club chain in the United States. it is the third largest retailer in the United States, where it originated, and the ninth largest in the world...

. Unlike the consumer-oriented lists, BookScan's data is extremely detailed and quite expensive. Subscriptions to BookScan cost up to $75,000 per year, but it can provide publishers and wholesalers with an accurate picture of book sales with regional and other statistical analyses.

The making of a bestseller


Ultimately, having a great number of buyers creates a bestseller; however, there is a distinct "making of" process that determines which books have the potential to achieve that status. Not all publishers rely on, nor strive for, bestsellers, as the survival of small press
Small press
Small press is a term often used to describe publishers with annual sales below a certain level. Commonly, in the United States, this is set at $50 million, after returns and discounts...

es indicates. Large publishing houses, on the other hand, are like major record labels and film studios, and require consistent high returns to maintain their large overhead. Thus, the stakes are high. It is estimated that 200,000 new books are published each year in the U.S., and less than 1% achieve bestseller status. Along the way, major players act as gatekeepers and enablers, including literary agents, editors, publishing houses, booksellers, and the media (particularly, publishers of book reviews and bestseller lists). In the U.S., the five major publishers—Random House
Random House
Random House, Inc. is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. It has been owned since 1998 by the German private media corporation Bertelsmann and has become the umbrella brand for Bertelsmann book publishing. Random House also has a movie production arm, Random House Films,...

, HarperCollins
HarperCollins
HarperCollins is a publishing company owned by News Corporation. It is the combination of the publishers William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd, a British company, and Harper & Row, an American company, itself the result of an earlier merger of Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company. The worldwide...

, Time Warner Publishing, Penguin USA
Penguin Group
The Penguin Group is a trade book publisher, the largest in the world , having overtaken Random House in 2009. The Penguin Group is the name of the incorporated division of parent Pearson PLC that oversees these publishing operations...

, and Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster, Inc., a division of CBS Corporation, is a publisher founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. It is one of the four largest English-language publishers, alongside Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins...

—are responsible for about 80% of bestsellers; the five majors together with the next five largest publishers—Macmillan
Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group
Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck is a Stuttgart-based publishing holding company which owns publishing companies worldwide. Holtzbrinck has published everything from Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses to classics by Agatha Christie, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway and John Updike...

, Hyperion
Hyperion (publisher)
Hyperion Books is a general-interest book publishing part of the Disney-ABC Television Group, a division of The Walt Disney Company, established in 1991. Hyperion publishes general-interest fiction and non-fiction books for adults under the following imprints: ABC Daytime Press, ESPN Books,...

, Rodale Press
Rodale Press
Rodale, Inc., is an American publisher of health and wellness magazines, books, and digital properties. Rodale is headquartered in Emmaus, Pennsylvania and also maintains a satellite office in New York City, on Third Avenue....

, Houghton Mifflin
Houghton Mifflin
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is an educational and trade publisher in the United States. Headquartered in Boston's Back Bay, it publishes textbooks, instructional technology materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction for both young readers and adults.-History:The company was...

, and Harlequin Enterprises—control around 98% of all United States bestsellers. At least equally influential are the marketing efforts, including advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

, promotion
Advertising campaign
An advertising campaign is a series of advertisement messages that share a single idea and theme which make up an integrated marketing communication...

, and publicity
Publicity
Publicity is the deliberate attempt to manage the public's perception of a subject. The subjects of publicity include people , goods and services, organizations of all kinds, and works of art or entertainment.From a marketing perspective, publicity is one component of promotion which is one...

. The high visibility of an established and best-selling author is paramount in the equation also. In addition to writing the book, an author has to acquire representation and negotiate this publishing chain.

At least one scientific approach to creating bestsellers has been devised. In 2004, Didier Sornette
Didier Sornette
Didier Sornette is Professor on the Chair of Entrepreneurial Risks at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich . He is also a professor of the Swiss Finance Institute, a professor associated with both the department of Physics and the department ofEarth Sciences at ETH Zurich, an Adjunct...

, a professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 of geophysics
Geophysics
Geophysics is the physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods. The term geophysics sometimes refers only to the geological applications: Earth's shape; its gravitational and magnetic fields; its internal structure and...

 and a complex system
Complex system
A complex system is a system composed of interconnected parts that as a whole exhibit one or more properties not obvious from the properties of the individual parts....

s theorist at UCLA, using Amazon.com sales data, created a mathematical model for predicting bestseller potential based on very early sales results. This information could be used to identify a potential for bestseller status and recommend fine tuned advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

 and publicity
Publicity
Publicity is the deliberate attempt to manage the public's perception of a subject. The subjects of publicity include people , goods and services, organizations of all kinds, and works of art or entertainment.From a marketing perspective, publicity is one component of promotion which is one...

 efforts accordingly.

In 1995, the authors of a book called The Discipline of Market Leaders colluded to manipulate their book onto the best seller charts. The authors allegedly purchased over 10,000 copies of their own book in small and strategically placed orders at bookstores whose sales are reported to Bookscan. Because of the ancillary
Ancillary
*Ancillary administration*Ancillary jurisdiction*Ancillary statistic*Ancillary data*Ancillary relief*Ancillary doctrine*Diacritic, an ancillary glyph added to a letter...

 benefits of making The New York Times Best Seller list (speaking engagements, more book deals, and consulting) the authors felt that buying their own work was an investment that would pay for itself. The book climbed to #8 on the list where it sat for 15 weeks, also peaking at #1 on the BusinessWeek
BusinessWeek
Bloomberg Businessweek, commonly and formerly known as BusinessWeek, is a weekly business magazine published by Bloomberg L.P. It is currently headquartered in New York City.- History :...

best seller list. Since such lists hold the power of cumulative advantage chart success often begets more chart success. And although such efforts are not illegal, they are considered highly unethical by publishers.

Cultural role


While the basic dictionary definition of bestseller is self-evident, "a popular, top-selling book", the practical cultural definition is somewhat more complex. As consumer bestseller lists generally do not detail specific criteria, such as numbers sold, sales period, sales region, and so forth, a book becomes a bestseller mainly because an "authoritative" source says it is. Calling a book a "top-selling" title is not so impressive as calling it "the New York Times bestseller". Although the former phrase is assumed to be derived from sales figures, the latter benefits from the high profile of the particular list. A book that is identified as a "bestseller" greatly improves its chance of selling to a much wider audience. In this way, bestseller has taken on its own popular meaning, rather independent of empirical data, by becoming a compromised product category and, in effect, attempting to create a marketing image. For example, a "summer bestseller" is usually determined long before the summer is over, and signals a book's suitability for millions of lounging pool-side readers.

The use of the marketing phrase, underground bestseller further illustrates the independent-from-sales, self-defining aspect of the term. For example, publisher HarperCollins suggested the bestseller potential of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood: A Novel by announcing "...four years after her award-winning, underground bestseller, Little Altars Everywhere..." in the promotion. The book went on to achieve bestseller status in the 1990s. In reviews of the 2002 film of the same name, the novel's bestseller status was cited routinely, as in "compelling adaptation of Rebecca Wells' bestseller".

The famous Diogenes Publisher at Zürich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

 (Swiss) started to talk about its own Worstsellers in 2006, and therewith brought a new mode-word into the German speaking European countries.

Connection with the movie industry


Bestsellers play a significant role in the mainstream movie industry. There is a long-standing Hollywood
Cinema of the United States
The cinema of the United States, also known as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period...

 practice of turning fiction bestsellers into feature films. Many, if not the majority, of modern movie "classics" began as bestsellers. On the Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly, aka PW, is an American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents...

fiction bestsellers of the year charts, we find: #1: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling, and was published on 21 June 2003 by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom, Scholastic in the United States, and Raincoast in Canada...

(2003), #2. The Godfather
The Godfather
The Godfather is a 1972 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo. With a screenplay by Puzo, Coppola and an uncredited Robert Towne, the film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard...

(1969); #1. Love Story
Love Story (novel)
Love Story is a 1970 romance novel by American writer Erich Segal. The book's origins were in that of a screenplay Segal wrote and was subsequently approved for production by Paramount Pictures. Paramount requested that Segal adapt the story into novel form as a preview of sorts for the film. The...

(1970); #2. The Exorcist
The Exorcist
The Exorcist is a novel of supernatural suspense by William Peter Blatty, published by Harper & Row in 1971. It was inspired by a 1949 case of demonic possession and exorcism that Blatty heard about while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University, a Jesuit school...

(1971); #3. Jaws
Jaws (novel)
Jaws is a 1974 novel by Peter Benchley. It tells the story of a great white shark that preys upon a small resort town, and the voyage of three men to kill it....

(1974); among many others. Several of each year's fiction bestsellers ultimately are made into high-profile movies. Being a bestseller novel in the U.S. during the last forty years has guaranteed consideration for a big budget, wide-release movie.

Unread bestsellers


Bestsellers have gained such great popularity that it has sometimes become fashionable to purchase them. Critics have pointed out that just because a book is purchased doesn't mean it will be read. The rising length of bestsellers may mean that more of them are simply becoming bookshelf decor. In 1985 members of the staff of The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

placed coupons redeemable for cash inside Strobe Talbott
Strobe Talbott
Nelson Strobridge "Strobe" Talbott III is an American foreign policy analyst associated with Yale University and the Brookings Institution, a former journalist associated with Time magazine and diplomat who served as the Deputy Secretary of State from 1994 to 2001.-Early life:Born in Dayton, Ohio...

's "Deadly Gambits: The Reagan Administration and the Stalemate in Nuclear Arms Control" and none of them were sent in.

Further reading

  • Alan T. Sorensen (2004). Bestseller Lists and Product Variety: The Case of Book Sales.
  • Clive Bloom (2002). Bestsellers: Popular Fiction Since 1900

External links