“Becoming” is Becoming Historic

Yes, that title is awful. Sue me.

I remember reading at the end of last year about the top selling books of the year. I’d have to go back and check, but there were maybe five that reached the one million threshold.

Michelle Obama’s memoir is said to be on pace to sell 10 million copies, which would be the bestselling memoir ever.

And President Obama’s memoir is still on the way! 🤑

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How Many of 2018’s Bestselling Books Did You Read?

I told y’all I bought a grand total of one book last year. So I’ll be the first to answer my own question. Uno! Only because it was an old one that wasn’t a new release.

But I was curious to know which books made it among the bestselling.

Even before looking up the list I already knew Michelle Obama far outpaced everyone else, but those other political books making this list were a bit surprising. Although when I really think about it, it isn’t surprising at all.

If I recall, book sales were up in 2018 over 2017. With that in mind I was also expecting just a few more titles over the 1 million mark. But let’s be honest, a million books is A LOT of books. So maybe I’m just silly.

How many of the bestselling books of 2018 have you read? (The list isn’t mine, so if you find a different one with different rankings, okay by me).

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?

On Reading Bestsellers

Have you ever met someone who only read bestsellers? Or perhaps someone who refuses to do so. I believe I’ve interacted with people on both sides of the question. And neither position makes any sense whatsoever to me.

Let’s start with person #1. Only reads bestsellers. Which means they likely spend more on each book than the rest of us. And they read a pretty small number of authors. Doesn’t really matter to me, but I think they’d quickly adopt the mindset that the books and authors they read are inherently better than everything else. I mean, obviously they’re bestsellers for a reason. Which is downright ridiculous. We all know that sales numbers don’t really reflect the quality of the book. There are some extraordinary books appearing on bestseller lists and not.

Now on to person #2. Doesn’t read bestsellers. They’ve essentially taken the notion that bestsellers aren’t very good books to a whole new level. We know not ALL bestsellers are good books. We get it. But to say that no bestseller is a good book (or to think it) is pretty outrageous. Sorry, Mrs. Rowling. Your books suck. It’s easy to toss around names like E.L. James or Stephenie Meyer as prime examples of this, but shall we start throwing in Stephen King and Margaret Atwood too? No. Of course not.

Both positions are going way too far in their positions. If you want to read bestsellers, then read them. If you don’t, then don’t. But don’t sit there and act like whatever you read is somehow better than EVERYTHING else out there. It isn’t.

What’s your take on reading bestsellers?

PS: I’m not even going to apologize anymore for my sporadic posting times. I can’t do anything about it. I’ll be replying to LOTS of comments when I have time later tonight.


On this day in 2014 I published Publishers Giving Away Books?.