Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Best-Seller Lists: How Do They Work?

I've never really thought too much about how books become best-sellers, on say for instance the New York Times or Los Angeles Times, largely because I've always assumed that books that have made the best-sellers list did so due to the sheer volume of them being sold throughout the retail industry.

However, I came across an interesting article in the Sacramento Bee entitled "Best-sellers lists: How they work and who they (mostly) work for" by Allen Pierleoni. In Pierleoni's article, he writes:
How do books make it onto best-seller lists in the first place? The answers are elusive.
"The creation of a best-seller list is the most nebulous thing you will ever encounter," said Paul Takushi, book promotions and marketing manager for the UC Davis Store. "No one really knows how it's done."
How the New York Times figures its lists is nearly as secret as, say, the recipe for Coca-Cola.
Book Review staff editor Gregory Cowles explained in an email: "(The formula) is a secret both to protect our product and to make sure people can't try to rig the system. Even in the Book Review itself, we don't know (the news surveys department's) precise methods."
"Everybody has a formula, everybody's list is different, and we do ours our own way," said Dick Donahue, features editor of Publishers Weekly magazine, the bible of the publishing industry. "I don't want to say that how we do ours is a closely guarded secret, but I guess I just did."

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Pierleoni further explains what moves books in his article as well as the importance of what both national and regional best-selling lists mean to the industry and more. Click on the link above to learn more.

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