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Friday, May 11, 2007

Legitimate Questions, Part One

When a book sells enough copies to earn a place on the New York Times Best-Seller List, it's really on one of several different lists. The bestsellers are first categorized by type of book (children's books, business, advice, etc.), then ranked. I'm telling you this because I just learned it myself. Until today I had always imagined one grand master list, impenetrable to all but the world's greatest writers. Turns out there can be like nine "New York Times #1 Bestseller!!!!" claims at the same time without anybody technically lying.

Let's stick with two obvious lists: hardcover fiction and paperback fiction. Here's my question: since hardcovers precede paperbacks as a rule, would it be right to assume that the paperback best-seller list will not actually include new releases? Or are some books never printed in hardcover, and instead shoot to the top of the paperback heap? Or is the paperback best-seller list just an extension of the hardcover best-seller list once the publisher stops printing the expensive versions?

These, I believe, are legitimate questions.

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Comments

John

It seems many people will release books straight to paperback because it's a much cheaper investment. If they don't believe a book will be a hit it'll be put out this way, I would expect this would mean there are many more new, less known writers on the Paperback list, that is if they are not pushed down by previous hardcover releases. On a side note if you take a sudden interest in nonfiction Einstein, by Walter Isaacson, is on the bestseller list and is a great read.
-John-

Jerry

You just blew my mind. I was under the assumption that the best selling of all books was on the top of the "Best Sellers" list.

Jimmie

I work in a books-a-million so I am constantly asked about NYT best sellers.
And 90% of the time the paperback best sellers are former hardback best sellers. Occasionaly though an author will re-release a book in that was published sometime ago and it will make it onto the list. "Night" by Wiesel (which is a good book by the way) for example. Very rarely though will an author release a straight to paperback book that goes on the NYT best sellers list. Hope this helped.
-J

Peter

I'm sure ask.metafilter.com could answer this in around 20 minutes. I for one have no idea.

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