Friday, March 17, 2006

Apple #155: Best Seller Blockbusters

A discussion came up at work today about which has the longer record of being on the best seller list: The Da Vinci Code or The Bridges of Madison County. Turns out, this is kind of a tricky question to answer.

First of all, it's important to note that "best seller" can be defined lots of ways. Lots of different publications keep track of their own lists, and they all count slightly differently, some include different independent bookstores than others, etc. No one list represents an exact count of every book purchased. All the lists are based on sample data taken from bookstores and distributors across the country. Those are just the national lists. There are also lists that are kept on a regional, or even state-wide basis.

Generally, most people consider the New York Times as providing the most authoritative list of sales on the national level. However, it's tough to find information about the length of time a book spent on the NYT list when it is no longer on the list. Information about what's been on other lists is sometimes more readily available. One of those other lists is produced by Publisher's Weekly, a magazine that exists to help bookstores and libraries decide what books to buy. When I've used their list's data, I've put a (PW) next to the numbers.

  • As of this week, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has been on the NYT best seller list for 153 weeks. That's just shy of three years.
    • BOMC - 161 weeks (PW)
    • BOMC - 150 weeks (NYT)
  • I'm going to postulate that since The Da Vinci Code shows no signs of slowing in popularity, if it hasn't beaten BOMC yet, it is going to do so pretty easily.
Looks like the Christian/art world mystery will beat out late-life love

  • Even though Da Vinci and BOMC have been blockbusters, they are chicken feed compared to these others:

The Winner and Still Champion
(this combines spirituality and love -- maybe that's the secret to a best seller!)

  • Here are some other titles that have also been on the NYT list for a long time, and they're still there and racking up the weeks:
Apparently, people are more interested in teaching their kids to get rich than they are in learning how to give birth to the kids in the first place.

  • Given that most books that hit the best seller list at all tend to stay there for only 2 weeks before sales drop off, the longevity of these titles is staggering.
The New York Times, Best Seller Index (originally accessed on March 12, 2006)
Jeff Elder, "Longest best-seller streaks," The Charlotte Observer, February 3, 2006
University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana, 20th Century American Bestsellers, Bridges of Madison County
Sean Rocha, "What's With All the 'National Best Sellers'?", October 15, 2004

1 comment:

  1. That What to Expect When You're Expecting (i hope this is in italics. My HTML knowledge is not great) chick is raking in the dough!


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