Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A bestseller is a book that is identified as extremely popular by its inclusion on a list of top-sellers. In everyday usage, the term bestseller is not usually associated with a specified level of sales, or considered of superior academic value or literary quality, it simply implies great popularity, similar to blockbuster for films and chart-topper (or similar) in music (although, in film and music, these measures are generally related to specific sales figures and periods). To some, bestseller has a negative connotation, particularly in fiction, indicating a work with mass appeal and of inferior literary quality. The term is widely used for marketing, with bestseller status advertised prominently on the covers of paperback editions whenever possible. In North America, the New York Times bestseller list is perhaps the most widely known list.
Bestsellers play a significant role in the mainstream movie industry. There is a long-standing Hollywood practice of turning fiction bestsellers into feature films. Many, if not the majority, of modern movie "classics" began as bestsellers. On the Publisher's Weekly fiction bestsellers of the year charts, we find: #2. The Godfather (1969); #1. Love Story (1970); #2. The Exorcist (1971); #3. Jaws (1974); among many others. Several of each year's fiction bestsellers are sooner or later made into high profile movies. Being a bestseller novel in the US over the last 40 years has guaranteed a first crack at being turned into a big budget, wide release movie.
Types of bestseller
Bestsellers are usually separated into fiction and non-fiction categories. Different list compilers have created a number of other subcategories. The New York Times was reported to have started the "Children's Books" section in 2001 in order to move the Harry Potter books out of the #1 slot where they had remained for a couple of years.
Bestsellers may also be ranked separately for hardcover and paperback editions. Typically, a hardcover edition appears first, followed in months or years by much less expensive paperback version. Hardcover bestseller status can help drive the paperback release to the same.
The online book retailer, Amazon.com, has altered the perception of bestsellers, by providing an hourly-adjusted sales ranking for all of the titles in stock. By being apparently based strictly on auditable sales to the public, the Amazon rankings can be odds with bestseller lists compiled from more casual data, such as the New York Times list's survey of booksellers. This situation suggests a similar one in the area of popular music. In 1991, Billboard magazine switched its chart data from manual reports filed by stores, to automated cash register data collected by a service called SoundScan . The conversion saw a dramatic shake-up in chart content from one week to the next.
Amazon's sales data has also generated new approaches to creating bestsellers. In 2004, Didier Sornette , a Professor of Geophysics and complex systems theorist at UCLA, using Amazon.com data, created a mathematical model for predicting bestseller potential based on early sales results. This information could be used to decide the potential for bestseller status, and to finetune advertising and publicity efforts.
While the basic dictionary definition of bestseller is self-evident, "a popular, top-selling book", the practical cultural definition is somewhat more complex. Because bestsellers are not publicly associated with specific criteria, like, number sold, sales period, sales region, and so forth, a book becomes a bestseller mainly because the "right" source says it is so. A book that becomes a bestseller greatly improves its chances of selling to a much wider audience. Calling a book a "top-selling" title is not as impactful as calling it, for example, "the New York Times bestseller", although the former phrase is assumed to be derived from sales figures, while the latter is first and foremost an opinion from a particular source. In this way, bestseller has taken on its own popular meaning, rather independent of empirical data, by becoming a product category and in effect, a people's choice award . For example, "summer bestseller" signals a book's suitability for millions of lounging "pool-side readers".
The use of the marketing phrase, underground bestseller further illustrates the independent-from-sales, self-defining aspect of a bestseller. For example, publishing house HarperCollins, in its promotional material for Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood : A Novel, referred to it is "from the award-winning author of the underground bestseller Little Altars Everywhere. Ya-Ya went on to achieve bestseller status in the 1990s. In a review for the 2002 film of the same name, one reviewer refers to it as the "film version of the...Rebecca Wells bestseller".
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