Do you ever wonder why almost every book you come across is a ‘#1 New York Times bestseller’? The New York Times bestselling list is one of the most prestigious lists for book readers and authors. To have one’s book in the list, even if it is for a week, is considered honorable. Surely all of them can’t be good enough to deserve the spot? Well, here is why.
The New York Times Best Seller is a list of most popular books in the United States. The ranks are based on the sales the books make per week. The NYT best seller list was first published in 1921 and since then it has remained one of the most famous lists – for bookworms to get a hold of trending books.
According to Vox, an American news website, one must be able to sell at least 5000 books within a week to become a NYT best seller. But that is just the tip, as the NYT team does not use that information to release the list. So, even if your book comes under the NYT best seller list, it does not necessarily mean it will appear on other lists too.
The New York Times (NYT) best seller list is updated every Wednesday at 7PM EST. The team, in addition to managing the list, also writes the descriptions for the new releases. These titles are more likely to be seen in a bookstore or on the website as a best-seller. As the list has a lot of categories, it becomes easier for the books to fall into any one of them.
The category of the NYT best seller list includes genres such as fiction, nonfiction, hardcover fiction and nonfiction, paperback fiction as well as paperback nonfiction, young adult, advice, children’s, food and fitness, humor, education, sports, business, science, politics, relationship and many more. If an author gets into any one of these categories, even if their books are at the bottom of the list, they can use the New York Times best seller tag on all of their books for the rest of their lives.
Because of the vast categories which the NYT team provides, authors get more and more chances of being recognized as a best-seller. Even if their books are not read by many, they can still become best selling authors.
Since the best-seller list comes out every week, a lot of books get the chance to appear on it. And as the list is published weekly, the team ranks and writes the descriptions based on the data given by the bookstores. This is why almost every book is a “best seller”, regardless of the fact that it is well written or not. Once a book becomes a New York Times best seller, people start to advertise it more. This advertisement helps a considerable deal in gathering more readers for the book.
It’s been said by many that the publishing company also has a hand in making their book a best-seller. They buy the slot in the NYT beforehand and with enough advertisement, the book seems to make a lot of recognition among readers. Some even call the New York Times best seller list biased against Conservatives. Once, an unknown book from an unknown author made its way to the ‘#1 New York Times best seller’. After the investigation was made, it came into notice that it was not because a lot of people were reading that book but because the author and publisher had ordered a large number of their books from bookstores that work with the NYT team.
Buying your way into the team is not that difficult. All you have to do is place orders at the stores which report to the New York Times team. The NYT team is aware of this method and are actively working to put an end to such practices. If a book appears to be ordered in large numbers, NYT would usually put a cross on that book’s placement on the list to warn readers that something fishy might be going on. Or, sometimes if they believe the book sales are illegitimate, they remove the book from the list entirely.
Nevertheless, the most important reason for a book to be a New York Times best seller is still the fact that there are hundreds of best-seller lists, and a book only needs to appear on any one of them to qualify. The list will sometimes say “best-selling author” instead. Pre-sales are also used to rate books, which is how brand new books end up on the lists.
Sana Perween is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Farzan Ghani