New York Times Best Seller list
The New York Times Best Seller list is widely considered the preeminent list of best-selling books
A bestseller is a book that is identified as extremely popular by its inclusion on lists of currently top selling titles that are based on publishing industry and book trade figures and published by newspapers, magazines, or bookstore chains. Some lists are broken down into classifications and...

 in the United States. It is published weekly in The New York Times Book Review
The New York Times Book Review
The New York Times Book Review is a weekly paper-magazine supplement to The New York Times in which current non-fiction and fiction books are reviewed. It is one of the most influential and widely read book review publications in the industry. The offices are located near Times Square in New York...

 magazine, which is published in the Sunday edition of The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 and as a stand-alone publication. The best-seller list has been ongoing since April 9, 1942.


The list is composed by the editors of the "News Surveys" department, not by The New York Times Book Review department, where it is published. It is based on weekly sales reports obtained from selected samples of independent and chain bookstores and wholesalers throughout the United States. The sales figures are widely believed to represent books that have actually been sold at retail, rather than wholesale, as the Times surveys booksellers in an attempt to better reflect what is purchased by individual buyers. Some books are flagged with a dagger
Dagger (typography)
A dagger, or obelisk. is a typographical symbol or glyph. The term "obelisk" derives from Greek , which means "little obelus"; from meaning "roasting spit"...

 indicating that a significant number of bulk orders had been received by retail bookstores.

The exact methodology used in creating the list is classified as a trade secret
Trade secret
A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers...

. In 1992, the survey encompassed over 3,000 bookstores as well as "representative wholesalers with more than 28,000 other retail outlets, including variety stores and supermarkets."

The lists are divided among fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

 and non-fiction
Non-fiction is the form of any narrative, account, or other communicative work whose assertions and descriptions are understood to be fact...

, print and e-book, paperback and hardcover; each list contains fifteen to twenty titles. Expanded lists that show additional titles are available online through the Book Review website. The lists have been subdivided several times. In early 1984, the "Advice, How-to and Miscellaneous" list was created because advice best-sellers were crowding out the general non-fiction list. In July 2000, the "Children's Best Sellers" was created after the Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

 series had stayed in the top spots on the fiction list for an extended period of time. The children's list was printed once a month until Feb. 13th 2011 when it was changed to once an issue (each week). In September 2007, the paperback fiction list was divided into "trade" and "mass-market" sections, in order to give more visibility to the trade paperbacks that were more often reviewed by the newspaper itself. In November 2010, The New York Times announced it would be tracking e-book
An electronic book is a book-length publication in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, and produced on, published through, and readable on computers or other electronic devices. Sometimes the equivalent of a conventional printed book, e-books can also be born digital...

 best-seller lists in fiction and nonfiction starting in early 2011. "RoyaltyShare, a San Diego-based company that tracks data and aggregates sales information for publishers, will .. provide [e-book] data". The two new e-book lists were first published with the February 13, 2011 issue, the first tracks combined print and e-book sales, the second tracks e-book sales only (both lists are further sub-divided into Fiction and Non-fiction). In addition a third new list was published on the web only which tracks combined print sales (hardcover and paperback) in fiction and nonfiction.

Effect on book sales

A Stanford Business School analysis found that the majority of book buyers use the Times list for buying ideas. The study concluded that lesser-known writers get the biggest benefit from being on the list, while perennial best-selling authors such as Danielle Steel
Danielle Steel
Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel , better known as Danielle Steel, is an American romantic novelist and author of mainstream dramas....

 or John Grisham
John Grisham
John Ray Grisham, Jr. is an American lawyer and author, best known for his popular legal thrillers.John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981 and practiced criminal law for about a decade...

 see no benefit of additional sales.

The best-seller list may not be a reflection of overall book sales; a book that never makes the list can outsell books on the best-seller list. This is because the best-seller list reflects sales in a given week, not total sales. Thus, one book may sell heavily in a given week, making the list, while another may sell at a slower pace, never making the list, but selling more copies over time.


In 1995, the authors of a book called The Discipline of Market Leaders colluded to manipulate their book onto the best seller charts. The authors allegedly purchased over 10,000 copies of their own book in small and strategically placed orders at bookstores whose sales are reported to Bookscan. Because of the ancillary
*Ancillary administration*Ancillary jurisdiction*Ancillary statistic*Ancillary data*Ancillary relief*Ancillary doctrine*Diacritic, an ancillary glyph added to a letter...

 benefits of making The New York Times Best Seller list (speaking engagements, more book deals, and consulting) the authors felt that buying their own work was an investment that would pay for itself. The book climbed to #8 on the list where it sat for 15 weeks, also peaking at #1 on the BusinessWeek
Bloomberg Businessweek, commonly and formerly known as BusinessWeek, is a weekly business magazine published by Bloomberg L.P. It is currently headquartered in New York City.- History :...

 best seller list. Since such lists hold the power of cumulative advantage, chart success often begets more chart success. Although such efforts are not illegal, they are considered unethical by publishers.

In 1999,, Inc. is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has separate websites for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and...

 announced a 50 percent decrease in price for books on the Best Seller List to beat its competition, Barnes and Noble. After a legal dispute between Amazon and The New York Times, Amazon was permitted to keep using the list on condition that it displayed it in alphabetical rather than numerical order. Since 2010 (or earlier), this is no longer the case. Amazon now displays the best-seller list in order of best selling titles first.

See also

  • List of bestselling novels in the United States
  • List of The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers
  • List of The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers
  • List of The New York Times Manga Best Sellers
  • Bestseller
    A bestseller is a book that is identified as extremely popular by its inclusion on lists of currently top selling titles that are based on publishing industry and book trade figures and published by newspapers, magazines, or bookstore chains. Some lists are broken down into classifications and...

External links

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