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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Considering “Bestseller” as a Genre

There has been a lot of talk this week about the brand new Amazon.com bestseller lists simply called Charts.

You can click here to see it for yourself, but I also really liked this article from The Guardian about Charts and what Amazon is trying to do with it that is different than what the New York Times does. I will wait if you go away for a moment and read that first.

No matter how you feel about Amazon and their impact on the book world, I do want to use the introduction of  Charts as a chance to have a broader conversation about serving readers at the public library.

I love bestseller lists. Every single one, no matter how small or obscure. Why? Because patrons love bestseller lists. As I detailed in this Call to Action post back in February
Patrons know what best sellers lists are; they already use them to help identify potential books to read. Best sellers are implicitly deemed as “good” by patrons because why else would they be best sellers? I know this logic is not always true, but it is how people think and we need to use that to our advantage.
That post is about creating a hyper-local bestseller list for your library. But today I want to remind you that for many patrons, a book being a Bestseller is a genre. Yes I know that genre as we see it had absolutely nothing to do with genre conventions, but....

That really doesnt matter in reality.

For many readers, “bestseller” means the book is good and worth their time. It is a way for them to shift through the thousands of reading options and create a smaller universe of books to choose from. They want to know if the book is popular because that will let them know it is okay to dive in and try it out.

I know this could be a disaster, and that with a few moments and some conversation we can find those patrons the perfect read regardless of whether it was a bestseller or not, but again, if the patron wants a “bestseller,” your best option is to have as many types of bestseller lists to cull from as possible.

I seek out many bestseller lists on a regular basis both to use as I help readers, but also to give me a sense of the niche areas. What books are popular in certain genres? What authors are getting a lot of buzz? What is popular in self publishing?

So please, embrace Amazon Charts as just another tool we have to help readers who see “bestsellers” as their favorite genre. And don’t forget, patrons are seeing the promotion about these lists. They will be asking for the books whether or not we are aware of the list. Like it or not, Charts will drive readers to us and we need to be aware and ready with he book in question, or a readalike.

Besides Charts, you can click here for a good list of bestseller lists from general to genre. Also, don’t forget Library Reads which can be seen as the library worker version of a bestseller list. Finally, check out that post from above where I wrote about how to create your own hyper-local best seller lists.

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