Monday, October 22, 2007

The Dark Secrets of a Best Seller

The more I learn about publishing, the more entrenched it seems. This week, maverick marketer Seth Godin takes on the New York Times bestseller mythology. Last month, author of Freakonomics, Steven Leavitt revealed the dubious math behind Amazon rankings.
My fantasy system would be led by librarians who order books,observe patron behavior all day long and explain options to readers--but they have no vested interest in sales. What power do librarians have? Well, there are more libraries in America than McDonald's stores. These knowledgable, non-partisan, neutral fonts of information are an untapped national resource for people who love books. It's time, in fact overdue, for an American Library "Most Requested" list.

1 comment :

T.Tallent said...

I have worked with many authors over the years and I don't know one that gives much cred to the New York Times Bestseller list (unless they happen to make it on the list). If you really want to get the scoop on this, talk with successful, hardworking authors who don't make the list because the big box book stores didn't "pre-order" a zillion copies of an upcoming book because it was destined to be a bestseller. Guess what, if any book sells a zillion copies before it even hits the shelf, of course it is going to be a bestseller! (Hmmm, is this modern math and economics?).
Two giant markets that receive almost no cred--maybe none at all- when it comes to what people are really reading (not just titles but SUBJECTS)are librarians, as you note Pat, and those last independent booksellers who are still standing. Building mechanisms to retrieve this information is doable and would be much more reliable.