Thursday, July 10, 2008

Battle of the Dumb Bestsellers

Over at Intelligent Life, Tom Shone -- whose book Blockbuster I enjoyed -- takes part in the time-honored tradition of delving into bestseller lists. He was inspired by a recent comment from Clare Alexander, president of the UK's Association of Authors' Agents, who said of Britain, "We have the stupidest bestseller list in the world at the moment."

Is that possible? Perhaps, on a technicality. As Shone writes:
There's another, more prosaic reason for the top-heaviness of the American lists; in 1985, the New York Times editors grew so weary of titles like "Jane Fonda's Workout Book" dominating their list--it had spent six months at number one, and more than 16 months in the top five--that they sectioned off all the self-improvement titles into a separate list, called "Advice." If you remerge the two lists, to show which books have actually sold the most, things don't look so civic-minded for the Americans. In, with a bullet, come titles like "Stop Whining Start Living," "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?" and "How Come That Idiot's Rich and I'm Not?," a common feeling for those perusing these lists.


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