Compiling Bestseller Lists

One would expect bestseller lists to be compiled open and honestly, right? That if a book sells enough copies to land on a bestseller list, it should be on the list. Turns out that’s not the case.

The first problem is that bestseller lists use different metrics to compile their lists. It’s not much different from radio airplay charts. Everyone knows Billboard reigns supreme, but there are other organizations that release their own lists each week. One example is a countdown of the top country songs that plays on my local country station every Sunday. The list is not from Billboard.

Book bestseller lists seem to carry a ton of weight with authors, publishers, and readers. But these lists aren’t the same. I understand why an author or publisher would speak out publicly if a book is within a list’s top 5 beselling books, but doesn’t even make the list. In the same breath I won’t say any publication has a duty to include the actual beselling books on any bestselling list, but doesn’t it seem disingenuous if they don’t?

Do you think bestseller lists should display the bestselling books of the period or should they be compiled using whatever metrics the publication chooses to use?

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5 thoughts on “Compiling Bestseller Lists

  1. You are about the only blogist whom I reply to on a regular basis :), lol.
    I don’t pay much attention to those lists, really. I’ll browse through our local Chapters or used book store but unless a blog I follow happens to publish such a list I don’t generally even know they exist.
    As for your question: I think there should be a list for each genre and the top five or ten should be listed: Listing the top sellers in total would leave a lot of worthy authors out in the cold.

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  2. I am guilty of never really paying any thought to bestseller lists. They literally have no influence over my reading habits. I think I might still be a tad confused over the metrics though. How do the process actually work.. breakdown wise? So is the list actually generated based on specific info provided by individual publishers?

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    • Typically Neilson Bookscan compiles data from publishers and book retailers. But not every list uses them. Like Amazon just uses sales from its own site and updates its bestsellers every hour. But I feel like major publications should want to use the most up-to-date and accurate information available.

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