Kim Weiss Publishing Services

Fly on the wall: the great bestseller list caper

October 22, 2009 at 12:03 pm


We got some good news this morning.

Another HCI title hit the NY Times bestseller list. That makes two, for fall 2009, and boy, does that make for some happy people down here in the Florida book publishing netherworld.

And, then there’s the mystery that shrouds the list. This isn’t the first time I’m talking about that and certainly, won’t be the last.

We know that the Times list gathers data from a number of “reporting stores.” From what we’re told, it’s a balanced group of bookstores representing the chains, independents, and the more recent addition, amazon. If there are other booksellers with additional classifications, I am unaware.

Our book, iWant, by Jane Velez-Mitchell, landed on the list at #35. What that means is that the ranking won’t appear in the Sunday newspaper two weekends from today, but it’s shown on the list that gets emailed around to mostly industry folks¬† i.e. booksellers, distributors, buyers, publishers and the like. The #35 number falls on the “extended list.”

Extended or not, the book has officially earned the moniker of NY Times Bestseller. And you can bet that our art department is already mocking up designs to make sure those words are optimally placed on the book cover. A job jacket will travel to the printing department and in no time, we’ll be boasting the bestseller news to everyone who sees or picks up the book.

Here’s the curious part of the list caper. When we analyzed the titles that are sitting near our book on the extended list, we notice that there are inconsistencies in the data that we amassed from the Nielsen lists. Our book sold more than at least one of the books ahead of it and had a better amazon ranking than two others.

Hence, this bestseller stuff is far from scientific and based on data samplings. I must say, the numbers sold for the week and the amazon rankings were pretty close to being true. More art than science, which I can live with.

I report this information with all due respect for the Times list. I think its best efforts are noble.

I just wish they would show all 35 titles rankings in the Sunday paper so we can boast a little more.

All about my dear New York Times, was auspicious today. An HCI title hit the list and I renewed my Sunday subscription (which was half price thank you very much).  Now I can return to my Sunday beach visits feeling complete with my cool beach sunglass readers, sunscreen, my book review and style sections stuffed into my bag (sorry northerners).

May your day be auspicious, too, and at the very least, stay warm.

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