Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What Makes a British Bestseller?

What makes a British book a bestseller? According to this Times Online article, a British book becomes a bestseller the same way that a U.S. book gets there: publishers make deals with bookstores to push certain books, and the chosen books climb the bestseller lists.

Most of us want to believe that books on the bestseller lists are the books that enjoy the most successful book promotion campaigns; the most adulation from readers; and the best word-of-mouth from everyone. Alas, that's no truer in Britain than it is in the States.

Readers beware: the featured novel in the bookstore probably is not the novel that book club members are falling over each other to read. Rather, it's the book with a supportive publisher who is wealthy enough to cut a deal with the bookseller. Merit and money may sometimes go hand-in-hand, and bestsellers may sometimes deserve to be bestsellers. But the odds of that happening seem depressingly meager.

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