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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bestselling Books of 2011

Thanks to the brand new books blog, Page Views, set up by The New York Daily News, I have a completely different look at a "best" list for 2011. From their post:

Nielsen BookScan just posted its list of the bestselling books of 2011 and it’s interesting to note how few new titles made the cut. Out of 20 titles, only eight were hardcovers published this year.
In fiction, “A Dance with Dragons” by George R.R. Martin and “The Litigators” by John Grisham were the only two new books to surface. That means Grisham rules. Martin is a monster on the list, but “Dragons” was the first book to be published in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series since 2005. Fans have been lined up for years. Meanwhile, Grisham puts out a book annually.
In non-fiction, the numbers were better. “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly, “A Stolen Life” by Jaycee Dugard, “Bossypants” by Tina Fey, “The 17 Day Diet” by Mike Moreno and “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson all made the show . 
Nielsen BookScan covers approximately 75% of retail sales excluding big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Costco.

Click through to see the full list.

If you help leisure readers in the public library, this bestselling data is arguably more important than the other "best lists" since these bestselling titles for 2011 are the ones you were probably asked about the most this year.

Looking at the list I cannot argue.  The Help and anything by George R R Martin or Stieg Larsson were definitely my top requests in fiction this year.  And I know nothing about the top nonfiction book, Heaven Is For Real, except that I got asked to place a hold on it at least 100 times this year.  But the fact of the matter is I knew the title because it was so popular.

Often with bestsellers, all we need to know is the title to help patrons. When someone came in asking for these books (many times without the correct title, and only with a vague description), I was ready for them because I was aware of their popularity.

So as you continue to read more best lists in the coming days (including my own), remember, as you work with readers, knowing the bestselling titles is just as important, actually, I would say more important, than being aware of the critics favorites.

Finally, I do want to publicly thank The New York Daily News for adding book coverage.  As many papers drop their book coverage, it is nice to see a major news outlet adding it.

I hope to pop back in today (or at the very latest tomorrow) with my review of Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson.  Still to come before the end of the year, a brief BPL book discussion report on Killer Angels and reviews of I'm Half Sick of Shadows (on Christmas Eve), Mr. Fox, The Leftovers, and In the Garden of Beasts.

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