Home » Bestsellers » New York Times Cuts a Range of Bestseller Lists

New York Times Cuts a Range of Bestseller Lists

27 January 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

The New York Times has eliminated a number of bestsellers lists, although the exact number could not be confirmed Thursday morning. Cutting the various lists is part of an overall plan by the paper to revamp its coverage of publishing.

A note sent on Wednesday to subscribers to the advance bestsellers lists said, “Beginning with the Advance BSL edition that will be delivered today for Feb. 5, 2017, there will be revisions to multiple categories in the publication. These changes will span weekly and monthly lists.”

. . . .

“Beginning February 5, the New York Times will eliminate a number of print but mostly online-only bestseller lists.

In recent years, we introduced a number of new lists as an experiment, many of which are being discontinued. We will continue to cover all of these genres of books in our news coverage (in print and online). The change allows us to devote more space and resources to our coverage beyond the bestseller lists.

Our major lists will remain, including: Top 15 Hardcover Fiction, Top 15 Hardcover Nonfiction, Top 15 Combined Print and E Fiction, Top 15 Combined Print and E Nonfiction, Top 10 Children’s Hardcover Picture Books, Top 10 Children’s Middle Grade Hardcover Chapter Books, Top 10 Children’s Young Adult Hardcover Chapter Books, and Top 10 Children’s Series. Several more including Paperback Trade Fiction, Paperback Nonfiction, Business, Sports, Science, and Advice Miscellaneous will remain online. Readers will be notified that individual lists will no longer be compiled and updated by the New York Times on the relevant article pages.”

Among the lists that appear to have disappeared are the graphic novel/manga and the mass market paperback lists as well as the middle grade e-book and young adult e-book lists.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Cassandra for the tip.


19 Comments to “New York Times Cuts a Range of Bestseller Lists”

  1. Ah, isn’t that cute, they still think people actually ‘care’ what they think is a best seller …

  2. Oh, I see they are in retrograde mode. Just make believe that online only books don’t exist and don’t count.

    The only bestseller lists that I look at regularly are the ones at Amazon, cause that’s where I shop.

    • Pretty sure they are referring to lists that appeared in their online-only edition, not books that are online-only, which would be a weird term, anyhow.

  3. Unfortunately, it DOES matter.

    Indies were eating their… whatever the metaphor is, so they just dump them.

    Haven’t trusted them in ages now.

  4. Back in 2015 they publicly admitted the lists were intended as promotional tools. Could be that it is Bookbub eating their lunch…

  5. Didn’t realize the New York Times was still around.

  6. Some indies should still hit the combined print and ebook list. I say “should”, as the list will probably be curated to remove the great unwashed.

    In other news, still no action on months of pre-orders being counted on one day affecting the lists. Go figure.

  7. Looks like the NYT has realized it can’t accurately track online book sales data. That, or Big Pub is squeezing them re Amazon and ebooks.

    And, of course, they aren’t going to go to Data Guy for data! 🙂

  8. Readers often ask me for hardbound or paperback books and I’ve said more than once that my books are good but they’re not worth cutting down any trees. I’m seriously thinking of unpublishing the CS stuff that I do have out there–it’s all dalliances.

    That’s the Big 5 and the NYT all over: wasters of trees and energy because a certain class of egomaniacs still needs to write something that can be propped up on an endcap and pointed to. When the NYT no longer exists except inside HTML brackets, the desire to turn trees into paper for all the silly shit you see peddled in the airport will become embarrassing to them. There’s nothing like a reformed addict, especially those that run around turning off all the lights.

  9. Smart Debut Author

    As usual, PublishersWeekly totally misses the real story, which Publishers Lunch covers far more accurately here: https://lunch.publishersmarketplace.com/2017/01/nyt-eliminates-bestseller-lists-cuts-overall-slots-nearly-half/

    “Where there were once 240 weekly [NYT Bestseller List] slots in all — 190 regular and 50 extended — now is [sic] pared back to 130 positions.

    The list for mass market fiction and dedicated lists for ebooks only — for both fiction and nonfiction — have been eliminated entirely, which some sectors may consider a double blow, since many fiction titles that used to sell well in the mass market had migrated to primarily digital sales.

    On the children’s side, the four lists covering middle grade and young adult paperbacks and ebooks have also been eliminated.

    Ironically, this NYT change–which was clearly intended to reduce the number of indies “crashing” onto these lists week after week–is instead going to be particularly devastating for traditionally published authors, particularly genre authors and new debuts, who just got thrown under the bus.

    Unlike indies, for whom a NYT Best Seller label is a nice-to-have ego stroke that doesn’t really influence how aggressively their title gets marketed by the indie author or by retailers, traditionally published titles and authors live or die based on whether they “hit the list.” Publishers usually double down on marketing for authors and titles that hit the NYT, buying them “front table” co-op placement, while the ones that don’t hit the list get swept out with yesterday’s trash.

    Sucks to be traditionally published right now; so glad I turned ’em down & stayed indie.

  10. Smart Debut Author

    PW Headline should more accurately read:

    Panicky NYT circles the wagons around 1%-ers, throwing the rest of traditionally published authors to the wolves

    Kensington CEO Steven Zacharius clearly agrees with this assessment: just look at his comments beliw the original PW article…

    • I’ve sent in my letter about the mass market list. This is a dreadful change. This will have reprecussions for publishers, authors, accounts and readers… — Steven Zacharius

      Steve Zacharius? Isn’t this the same Steve Zacharius who wanted to put indies into their own ghetto?

      How ironic…

      • I’ll repeat: the important divide in publishing isn’t trapub vs Indie. It’s BPHs vs everybody else.

        But as long as the small and medium publishers keep providing cover for the BPHs they’re the ones that are going to be hurt the most.

  11. The only reason I can see it matters now is because BookBub accepts your book (it’s more likely anyway) if you can say you’re NYT. A *little* more likely if USAT is in the comments box.

    For those of us who want more BBs and tradpub isn’t simply ordering slots on a spreadsheet, everything matters. There are fewer slots per month for indies to compete over every single month.

    Otherwise…NYT is toilet paper for birds.

  12. Actually, in hindsight, the move is perfectly logical.

    The lists are just a promotional tool (hence the arbitrary jiggerings and reworkings) and their value is proportional to the NYTs circulation and credibility. Both of which have declined markedly in recent, ahem, times…

    By cutting the number of slots, they reduce the number of featured titles which adds (artificial) scarcity value to the slots. If there are less titles that can claim being an NYT bestseller, getting on the lists becomes more of a bragging point. The “honor”, as we all know, has been increasingly easy to achieve by means both foul and fair due to the decreased number of reported sales needed to hit the list and the fast turnover resulting from the fresh produce model. One week wonders are fairly common these days.

    The other part that is logical is where they cut.
    Which is to say they cut the cheaper books out of the listings. Perfectly $ensible since their patron$ over at the BPHs have been actively deemphasizing MMPB as anything but a reprint channel for hardcover bestsellers. So, in that world, why keep lists of how well last year’s bestsellers are doing this year and risk taking sales away from the freshly picked hardcovers?

    As far as the NYT is concerned, the day of the MMPB original is done. Ideally, if a book isn’t worth a BPH hardcover contract it shouldn’t even be published, much less promoted.

    It’s not as if Mass Market releases bring in much ad revenue to the NYT, anyway…

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