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It’s crowded at the top

Nicholas Clee has a story in The Times about three books that claim to be #1 bestsellers, and the vaguely dishonest, semantical games their authors and publishers play to justify that claim. One book was #1 in Britain for a week, though not internationally, as its jacket claims. Another was the top seller at a single book chain. The third, and most suspect, was very briefly ranked number one on Amazon UK, thanks to its author, who “sent out e-mails offering ‘certain bonuses’ (mostly tennis-related) to people who bought his book from Amazon, hoping for a top 100 position.”

After taking the time to make clear that The Times‘ own list cannot be so easily manipulated, Clee gives some explanation as to why some authors and publishers have resorted to this kind of sleight of hand:

“Dan Brown’s domination of the 2005 bestseller lists charts caused a lot of grief to ambitious novelists who found the #1 position blocked to them for most of the year.”

Perhaps we’ll soon see books marketed as being top sellers based on the fact that their authors were once given a mug that said “#1 Dad.”

Related links:
Read the story in The Times