Publishers Weekly, in tracking the best-sellers of 2016, announced that Penguin Random House had the most best-sellers, with 348 books. They also had occupied the biggest share of the best-seller lists, having a hardcover book take up 41% of the best-seller slots and 31.5% of the trade paperback slots. The rest of the Big Five – collectively – barely exceeded those totals. The Big Five published the books that took up 87.8% of all hardcover best seller spots and 78.5% of the trade paperback
2016 saw a record number of unique hardcover nonfiction books hit the list – 320 – which was up from the prior years’ record of 283 by 15%. This means that books that hit the lists don’t have as much staying power as they used to have. In 2013, 269 made the list.
Based on the four major categories – hardcover fiction, hardcover non-fiction, trade paperback, and mass market, 1,077 books made a best-seller list in 2016. That’s roughly in 1 every 350 books traditionally published last year.
With the Big Five we forget that they represent well over dozens of divisions and imprints, many of which could equal the size of independent publishers. Some have impressive best-seller totals. St. Martin’s Press had the most adult hardcover best-sellers/last year – 30. Little, Brown was close with 26. Harlequinn had the most mass market best-sellers with 46. Mira was a distant second with 35 and Zebra was in third with 19. BookShots almost edged out Grand Central (18-16) for most trade paperback best-sellers.
In a sign of the times, higher on the trade paperback best-seller list in terms of the number of books on the list in 2016, was Creates Space – over Thomas Nelson, Scribner, Grove, Workman, Harper Perennial, Touchstone or Dey Street.
Hitting the PW best-seller list isn’t always an amazing feat. Their lists have 25 weekly slots and sometimes weekly sales in the 2,000 range are enough to get a book on. Still if that’s what it takes to get on, and thousands of others can’t do it, one has to acknowledge the achievement.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many best-seller lists – PW, NYT, USA Today, WSJ to name a few – and how none of them acknowledge all of the sales of any book? BN.com and Amazon measure how many books were sold through their stores. Other lists take data from Nielsen Scan or other sources that may only capture 75% of the sales that take place. But there are plenty of books that have outsold by far any best-sellers but for a variety of reasons never made an official list.
But if the PW best-seller tallies reveal one thing to us it is that the American public doesn’t stick too long with too many books. Given there are at least 1.000 traditionally published books every single day – about 40 an hour – there will be too much competition for the precious few best-seller slots.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs
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