Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bestsellers: The Indie List

You may have noticed that practically every paperback reprint of a book that you see proclaims that book as being a "#1 bestseller," or a "national bestseller." For a long time, "the bestseller list" referred to one in particular: that published in the New York Times Book Review. Nowadays, however, there are dozens of such lists in various publications and on various websites. Our personal favorite here at Accent on Books is the Indie Bestseller List which is compiled by Indiebound, a marketing initiative of the American Booksellers Association, of which Accent on Books is a member. For one thing, it is a list in which we have a personal stake: we are one of the "reporting stores" for the list. Every week we report our bestselling titles to Indiebound, and our figures are combined with those of other independent bookstores to compile the final list. Which leads to the second reason we like it: it is a list that shows specifically what is selling in independent bookstores.

Here is a glance at some of the titles on the current Indiebound bestseller lists:

Hardcover Fiction: It's always nice to see an "underdog title" succeed, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society certainly qualifies for that. This novel in letters about life in England after World War II has been on the list for thirty weeks and is now number one. Among the newer titles on the list are Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese (who wrote the memoir My Own Country) and Fool, Christopher Moore's madcap version of King Lear.

Hardcover Nonfiction: Malcolm Gladwell's new book Outliers is an analysis of what makes people successful, and he must have been taking his own advice: Outliers leads the nonfiction list. Other topics represented on the list include animal behavior ( Animals Make Us Human, by Temple Grandin), Iraq (The Gamble, by Thomas Ricks) and cooking (Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, by Ina Garten).

Trade Paperback Fiction: All roads on this list lead to The Shack, the self-published Christian novel by William Young which has become a national phenomenon, and currently sits at number one. Also appearing are Aravind Adiga's Booker winner The White Tiger, and Revolutionary Road, the 1961 classic by Richard Yates which has recently been made into a movie. And Asheville resident Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants is still on the list after 98 weeks.

Trade Paperback Nonfiction: Three books have been on this list for more than a hundred weeks: Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortensen, Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama, and Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Two other books connected to the current President are also on the list: his own The Audacity of Hope, and Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about Lincoln and his cabinet which reportedly influenced Obama's own cabinet choices.

If you wish to see the full lists -- not to mention the books featured on them -- come by Accent on Books. We always have the Indie Bestsellers lists posted on the front counter and at the entrance to the children's section.

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