It’s Time to Turn the Page

From the three-time New York Times bestselling author . . .

Such taglines do not a good book make.

Finding a best seller goes past asking the local bookstore what books are off the shelves since one can buy physical or electronic books from Amazon, Half, Alibris, Powells and more. Best seller list compilers take this into consideration by submitting data from the main book retailers and plugging them into a formula that spits out around 300 books biweekly.

Let’s do some math here. New York Times — the most “renowned” Best Sellers list — has 125 slots for fiction books every other week. That amounts to a possibility of 6,500 novels or authors awarded as a “Best Seller” per year, which would allow 6,500 new authors to make their break in the fiction literary world.

If only the list was so fluid. The top five young adult bestsellers (i.e. The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent, Looking for Alaska, and The Book Thief) have been glued to the list for 41 weeks, taking 205 places where new books like “The Bone Season” or “The Night Itself” could be displayed. In fact, only two books that came out this year are privileged enough to grace the aforementioned five slots of “almost.”

Sadly, there is reason behind this loss. The books hogging the top have made traction outside the literary world over the past decade to the point where, when your birthday comes along, you have John Greens and Rick Riordans coming from people who haven’t read recreationally since high school. Their inflamed name recognition leads to mindless book sells so abundant that such authors give up listing their taglines and just leave the back cover for blown up headshots (see: James Patterson, Nora Roberts, and more).
Bestsellers are great for authors (royalties, people). But for teen readers looking for “up and coming” books, all it’s useful for is to reminisce about their middle school days back when such books were actually new. Instead, look towards awards that honor new books for quality writing, like Cybils or Printz, for decent reads. Read them, love them, and maybe you’ll see them gracing 20th place in five years.