Bestsellers

Cruz book lands on NY Times bestseller list

16 July 2015

From The Hill:

Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) recently-released book has landed on The New York Times’ bestseller list this week, after its initial omission saw public criticism.

The Republican presidential candidate’s “A Time for Truth” comes in at No. 7 on the Times’ latest bestseller list of nonfiction books due out Friday, newspaper spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told The Hill.

“This week’s NYT best seller list was arrived at using the same process as last week’s – and the week before that,” Murphy wrote in an email.

“That process involves a careful analysis of data, and is not influenced in any way by the content of a book, or by pressure from publishers or book sellers,” she continued.

“Our approach serves Times readers by authenticating broadly popular books through the confidential reporting of a wide range of retailers. In order to avoid compromising that process, we do not disclose who reports sales to us,” Murphy added.

The book’s inclusion comes after Cruz’s campaign and HarperCollins, which published the book, publicly criticized the newspaper for omitting it from its current list, citing the book’s inclusion on other prominent rankings.

Cruz acknowledged public attention had helped propel his book onto the list.

Link to the rest at The Hill and thanks to Darren for the tip.

Amazon’s best-selling books through the years

15 July 2015

From SF Gate:

Within hours of its release, “Go Set a Watchman” became Amazon.com’s best-selling book for 2015.

. . . .

The book bumped “StrengthsFinder 2.0,” by Tom Rath, from the top spot on Amazon’s best-selling books list. That short book helps readers identify and apply their strengths using an online StrengthsFinder assessment created by Donald Clifton, Tom Rath and scientists at Gallup. Each copy of the book comes with an access code for the assessment.

To mark Amazon’s 20th birthday on Wednesday, I took a look back at the best-selling books and electronic books over the years. Early best-sellers were dedicated to creating websites. Other nonfiction books that made it to No. 1 include “Steve Jobs,” the biography by Walter Isaacson, and “Good to Great:  Why Some Companies Make the Leap … And Others Don’t.”

Five of the eight “Harry Potter” books were best-sellers on Amazon the year they came out. Other popular fiction includes “Cold Mountain,” “The Da Vinci Code” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com as a place to buy books online. In July 1995, the Seattle company sold its first book, “Fluid Concepts & Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought,” by Douglas Hofstadter. The company shipped books from Seattle to 50 states and 45 countries during its first 30 days.

Link to the rest at SF Gate and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Amazon: ‘No evidence’ of bulk sales for Ted Cruz book

13 July 2015

From Politico:

The New York Times’ refusal to put Ted Cruz’s memoir on its bestseller list is once again being called into question — this time by Amazon, the largest Internet retailer in the country.

On Sunday, an Amazon spokesperson told the On Media blog that the company’s sales data showed no evidence of unusual bulk purchase activity for the Texas senator’s memoir, casting further doubt on the Times’ claim that the book — “A Time For Truth” — had been omitted from its list because sales had been driven by “strategic bulk purchases.”

“As of yesterday, ‘A Time for Truth’ was the number 13 bestselling book, and there is no evidence of unusual bulk purchase activity in our sales data,” Sarah Gelman, Amazon’s director of press relations, said in an email.

Amazon’s findings match those of HarperCollins, the book’s publisher, which said Friday that it had “investigated the sales pattern” for Cruz’s book and found “no evidence of bulk orders or sales through any retailer or organization.” Moments after that announcement, Cruz’s campaign issued a press release accusing the Times of lying and calling on the paper to provide evidence of bulk purchasing or else formally apologize.

“The Times is presumably embarrassed by having their obvious partisan bias called out. But their response — alleging ‘strategic bulk purchases’ — is a blatant falsehood,” Cruz campaign spokesperson Rick Tyler said in a statement Friday. “The evidence is directly to the contrary. In leveling this false charge, the Times has tried to impugn the integrity of Senator Cruz and of his publisher HarperCollins.”

Link to the rest at Politico and thanks to Nirmala for the tip.

While PG has no idea whether someone in the Cruz camp tried to manipulate the New York Times bestseller list (Such manipulation has been successful many times before), he will note that Cruz has received far more publicity from the NYT keeping him off the list than he would if his book had been listed.

Plus, a fight with the Times over anything is great publicity for any Republican candidate.

N.Y. Times keeps Cruz off bestseller list

10 July 2015

From Politico:

The New York Times informed HarperCollins this week that it will not include Ted Cruz’s new biography on its forthcoming bestsellers list, despite the fact that the book has sold more copies in its first week than all but two of the Times’ bestselling titles, the On Media blog has learned.

Cruz’s “A Time For Truth,” published on June 30, sold 11,854 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen Bookscan’s hardcover sale numbers. That’s more than 18 of the 20 titles that will appear on the bestseller list for the week ending July 4. Aziz Ansari’s “Modern Romance,” which is #2 on the list, sold fewer than 10,000 copies. Ann Coulter’s “Adios America,” at #11, sold just over half as many copies.

“A Time For Truth” has also sold more copies in a single week than Rand Paul’s “Taking a Stand,” which has been out for more than a month, and more than Marco Rubio’s “American Dreams,” which has been out for six months. It is currently #4 on the Wall Street Journal hardcover list, #4 on the Publisher’s Weekly hardcover list, #4 on the Bookscan hardcover list, and #1 on the Conservative Book Club list.

. . . .

“We have uniform standards that we apply to our best seller list, which includes an analysis of book sales that goes beyond simply the number of books sold,” Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy explained when asked about the omission. “This book didn’t meet that standard this week.”

Asked to specify those standards, Murphy replied: “Our goal is that the list reflect authentic best sellers, so we look at and analyze not just numbers, but patterns of sales for every book.”

Link to the rest at Politico and thanks to Richard for the tip.

Best Sellers List Exposed

3 June 2015


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Thanks to Abel for the tip.

King of the Golden Hill: An Analysis of 50 Years of Bestsellers.

8 May 2015

From author Martin Hill Ortiz:

I looked at fifty years of the books that dominated the New York Times Adult Fiction Bestseller List, starting in 1960 and continuing through 2009. My goal was to see what kind of book got on top and stayed there, and how this has changed over time.

To narrow down the massive number of titles, I focused on those which stayed on top for at least four weeks.

. . . .

The New York Times first began determining best-selling novels and non-fiction works on a national basis in 1942. Over the years, these lists have splintered to include competing lists. Among the categories they were divided into were paperbacks versus hardcover, print versus e-book, and children’s versus adult. Sublists have been added to distinguish trade from mass-market.

For these analyses, I examined the Adult Fiction Bestsellers.

. . . .

During the year 1960, only two novels held the number one spot: Advise and Consent by Allen Drury, carrying over from 1959 and Hawaii by James Michener which stayed on top for 49 weeks, spilling into 1961. They slugged it out, the top entry spot changing eleven times. Long stays on top of the list were common for the 1960s. Over the course of the decade, 31 novels took the number one spot for an average stay of 16.1 weeks.

During the year 2009, 37 different novels occupied the number one position, 31 of these for only one week. The average stay was 1.4 weeks. Over a remarkable period, one-week wonders climbed to the top spot for each of twenty consecutive weeks. Novels with four or more weeks at the number one position filled 47.7% of the weeks during the decade of the 2000s. If you exclude The Da Vinci Code, theGangnam Style of novels, this number drops to 36.4%.

What happened in between was a great splintering in the length of stay on the list. The value of being number one was quantified and incentives were written into book contracts for its achievement. The number one bestselling authors could demand higher speaker fees. The competition for the number one spot became fierce. The company ResultSource guarantees a number one position for a fee of $200,000. Their webpage has a disturbing minimalism. (This may be thought of as being the steroid period of American popular literature.)

. . . .

James Patterson Has Page Count Envy. 

James Patterson is a machine for writing bestsellers. I don’t fault him for that: he knows how to give people what they want. He writes short novels which are printed out to appear to be long books. From 2005 to 2008 he had these six entries which stayed at least four weeks in the number one position on the bestsellers list*.

Year, Title, Page count, Word count
2005 Honeymoon, 393 pages, 65572 words
2005 4th of July, 392 pages, 68000 words
2005 Lifeguard, 394 pages, 71634 words
2005-06 Mary, Mary, 392 pages, 72436 words
2006 Judge and Jury, 421 pages, 74288 words
2008 Double Cross, 2008, 389 pages, 70753 words
*He had 16 total number one books during this period.

These average out to be 397 pages and 70447 words, or 177.4 words per page.

Link to the rest at Martin Hill Ortiz and thanks to Bill for the tip.

Here’s a link to Martin Hill Ortiz’s books

How to Top China’s Best-Seller List Without Really Trying

8 March 2015

From Foreign Policy:

Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong in southern China, 15-year-old leukemia patient He Danting reads The Kite Runner in between chemotherapy sessions. The high school student loves to read and wishes she were back at school, said a March 2 report about He in the local Guangzhou Daily, so nurses gave her Khaled Hosseini’s story of boyhood betrayal and adult redemption set in Afghanistan. Earlier this year, when children at the Bashu Primary School in the megacity of Chongqing were preparing for a monthlong spring festival holiday, parents organized a book lottery. Among the titles given to students for reading over the break was The Kite Runner,reported local news site Hualong Net on March 1. At Tsinghua University in Beijing, popularly known as the “M.I.T. of China,” the third-best-selling book among students in 2014 was also The Kite Runner.

The curious thing is that The Kite Runner is not new to China. It has been in print there since 2006, after being picked up by the Shanghai People’s Press. It’s long been popular, bouncing up and down the top 30 list compiled by OpenBook.com.cn, but recently it became a blockbuster. Over the last nine years, The Kite Runner has sold more than 3 million copies in China. Nearly a third of that total comes from sales in 2014.

. . . .

Why has a years-old text set in a distant land shot to the top of the Chinese charts? Bookseller Dangdang.com notes that U.S. President Barack Obama bought The Kite Runner for his daughter. That might sway some Chinese readers. But the market-moving endorsement, appears to have come from Beijing-born actress Gao Yuanyuan, who recommended the book during a Nov. 2013 appearance on the hugely popular Chinese variety show “Happy Camp.” Gao is the star of Chinese romantic comedies such as “Let’s Get Married” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” One fawning reader, a woman based in Beijing who blogs under the alias “White Rabbit on the Moon,” wrote in an October 2014 post that she read the book out of curiosity and also “because the goddess Gao Yuanyuan recommended it.”

. . . .

[H]e added that Gao’s endorsement is part of a bigger snowball effect that has to do with word of mouth and the way books are sold in China today. Online sales mean that regional differences in taste are being minimized. The Kite Runner, for example, is the top fiction seller in poor mountainous Guizhou and in the central province of Shaanxi and in Dongguan, a manufacturing hub next to Hong Kong.

In essence, The Kite Runner is experiencing a China-style version of the Oprah effect.

Link to the rest at Foreign Policy and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Best-Sellers Initially Rejected

5 February 2015

From Literary Rejections:

Some writers continually submit the same manuscript until it is accepted. Others chose to do a more polished draft before sending it out again. A select few learn from the lessons ofsubmissions, to write a completely new book.

What they all have in common is a persistence to never give up on their dream; a dream that has elevated them from writer, to best-selling author.

They have written some of the most critically praised and commercially successful books of all time. In some cases their enormous sales were so consistent that they even kept their publishers afloat.

Yet in spite of this phenomenal success, every single one of these best-selling authors was initially rejected.

. . . .

After 5 years of continual rejection, the writer finally lands a publishing deal: Agatha Christie. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has sold more.

. . . .

Louis L’Amour received 200 rejections before Bantam took a chance on him. He is now their best ever selling author with 330 million sales.

“Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.” A rejection letter sent to Dr Seuss. 300 million sales and the 9th best-selling fiction author of all time.

. . . .

“It is so badly written.” The author tries Doubleday instead and his little book makes an impression. The Da Vinci Code sells 80 million.

. . . .

5 publishers reject L.M. Montgomery‘s debut novel. Two years after this rejection, she removes it from a hat box and resubmits. L.C. Page & Company agree to publish Anne of Green Gables and it goes on to sell 50 million copies.

Link to the rest at Literary Rejections and thanks to Dave for the tip.

The Henry Ford of Books

31 December 2014

From Vanity Fair:

The planet’s best-selling author since 2001, James Patterson has more than 300 million copies of his books in print, an army of co-writers, several TV deals in the works, and an estimated income of $90 million last year alone. But where’s the respect?

. . . .

It seems somehow fitting that James Patterson, the advertising Mad Man turned impresario of the global thriller industry, spends his summers perched high above the Hudson River in Westchester County, halfway between Don Draper’s Ossining and Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow, where the Headless Horseman once roamed the roads by night. Perhaps no author in literary history has more seamlessly melded commerce and creepiness to create an international brand, one that has transformed a wide swath of the publishing industry and given Patterson not only a Rockefeller’s river view but a Rockefeller’s bank account to boot.

With 305 million copies of his books in print worldwide, Patterson is the great white shark of novelists, a relentless writing machine who has to keep swimming forward in order to feed, and who, together with his army of about two dozen credited co-writers, has been the planet’s best-selling author since 2001 (ahead of J. K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, Dr. Seuss, and John Grisham). Of all the hardcover fiction sold in the U.S. in 2013, books by Patterson accounted for one out of every 26. Altogether, he has produced more than 130 separate works—the “books by” page in his latest novels actually takes up three full pages. Forbes estimates his income for the year ending last June at $90 million. When I had a chance to ask Patterson about that figure, he at first said, “I don’t know,” and then followed up with “Yeah, probably.”

. . . .

“I’m sure there’s no publishing relationship like it,” Michael Pietsch—Patterson’s former editor who is now C.E.O. of Hachette Book Group (Little, Brown’s parent company)—told me recently. “Jim is the smartest person I’ve ever worked with, across a vast landscape of things you can be brilliant about—suspense, emotions, and readers’ expectations and how to work them.” Pietsch said Patterson had built “a kind of studio system in which he can imagine these stories into being, then work with co-authors so that these stories come into the world.”

Indeed, Patterson is to publishing what Thomas Kinkade was to painting, or the television producer John Wells was to a series like E.R. He is not a tortured artist in a garret but rather presides over an atelier that produces mass popular entertainment on an astonishing scale. He once said of his work, in a profile a decade ago, “I look at it the way Henry Ford would look at it.” The remark has gained currency. Patterson today is busier than ever, in the midst of his current 24-book contract, preparing to launch a TV series based on his thriller Zoo, and campaigning with personal appearances and his deep pockets in support of young-adult literacy and independent bookstores. He has also been outspoken, loudly and prominently, on the subject of the long dispute—settled in November—between Amazon and Hachette Book Group, in the course of which the online retailer had penalized Hachette writers. Because Patterson is a Little, Brown author, many of his own books felt the pinch—they were often not in stock, or were unavailable for pre-order. (Books of Patterson’s on Amazon’s Top 100 list, like anyone else’s on that list, tended not to be affected.) Speaking to BookExpo America last spring, Patterson told the audience of publishers and booksellers, “If Amazon is the new American way, then maybe it has to be changed.”

Link to the rest at Vanity Fair and thanks to Karen for the tip.

Bestselling books 2014: the kids are alright

28 December 2014

From The Guardian:

At long last, kids ruled in 2014. Books aimed at them have often figured in the top 10 of the all-year sales chart for printed books, but in the respective heydays of JK Rowling, Stephenie (Twilight) Meyer and Suzanne (The Hunger Games)Collins the rest of the elite group usually consisted of grown-up titles and there was always a chance that one such mega-seller – by Dan Brown, say, or EL James– would pip them to the top spot.

This year, in contrast, seven of the top tier books including the No 1 – by John Green, David Walliams and Jeff Kinney, plus four Minecraft manuals – are for children or young adults and an eighth, Guinness World Records, is predominantly aimed at them.

. . . .

What’s fascinating about this is that there should be a market for video game spin-off books at all, let alone such a stunning one. There’s no shortage of Minecraft tutorials on YouTube, in its own online domain, but rather reassuringly young gamers en masse evidently felt a need for a hardback handbook opened next to their PCs – a demand reflecting the relative robustness of manuals of all types and children’s books, compared to other genres whose print sales and revenue have been hit harder by readers’ inexorable (though possibly slowing) flight to ebooks.

. . . .

Just like YouTube idols transformed into writers, reminiscing celebrities capitalise on their screen fame (usually on television) to win publishing deals; but the 2014 list confirms that the public long ago got out of the habit of seeing the resulting books as ideal Christmas presents. Besides the late Lynda Bellingham’s autobiography (12), two sports books, by Guy Martin (32) and Roy Keane (37), are the only hardback memoirs in the top 100. Yet publishers still seem in denial about the once-mighty subgenre’s slump, shelling out for much-hyped autumn offerings from John Cleese, Stephen Fry, John Lydon, Graham Norton and others that all flopped.

. . . .

More surprising is the decline of cookery titles, which until recently gave crime and children’s fiction a good fight for the highest positions. The genre’s talisman Jamie Oliver, who up to 2012 routinely occupied a top 10 spot and for several years running was the Christmas-week No 1, now languishes at No 23. Mary Berry is ahead of him at No 13, but you’d expect her to be higher, given The Great British Bake Off’s vast audience.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

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