Monday, September 24, 2007

Changes on the best-seller list

The NYT Book Review's "Up Front" column this week notes that the Review has tweaked its design a bit—most notably, it has moved the block of text listing the reviewed book's title, author, and other publication information below the first few lines of the review itself, which is a bit bothersome—and added a new component to the best-seller list: a "paperback trade fiction" list. (Previously, Trade or large format "quality paperback" and Mass-market paperbacks were listed together, which favored books released in both formats, since the sales numbers were combined, and also meant that mass-market-friendly genre fiction dominated the list.)

This is a fairly interesting change, since the Review's editors state upfront that the new list "gives more emphasis to the literary novels and short-story collections reviewed so often in our pages (and sometimes published only in softcover)." As the sort of person who, should I ever write anything publishable, would likely fall into the "literary," trade paperback camp, I think it's kind of cool, but is it weird to create a whole new list for such a purpose, or is it just an admission that the best-seller list is really nothing more than a promotion tool anyway?

While it's nice that the new list co-exists with the mass-market list (instead of replacing it), I have to admit that the old bookseller in me would be a bit annoyed that yet another crop of books will be able to put the words "New York Times Bestseller" on their covers. Everybody's a bestseller these days.

Oh, and in unrelated but noteworthy news, Paul Muldoon is taking over as The New Yorker's poetry editor.

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