The Bestseller Trap

BestsellerI have this issue with reading bestsellers. I actually will actively avoid a book most of the time, if absolutely everyone is reading it.

I stayed away from Me Before You until it was next to impossible to find. And I love it. So I picked up the sequel. And I’m struggling to get into it 100 pages in.

Here’s how best sellers work – its the number of copies sold. End of story. If everyone runs out and buys a terrible book (i.e. Twilight, 50 Shades of Gray) it becomes a best seller. It doesn’t speak to the quality of the book. Actually – as little as 5,000 copies can get you on a bestseller list like the The New York Times.

I jumped on the bandwagon for Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Gone Girl and The Goldfinch.

Gone Girl was painful to read because there wasn’t a single character I liked, or had any redeeming value. I had to know what happened in the end though – so props to Gillian Flynn for keeping me hooked to these horrible people all the way to the bitter end. The Goldfinch needed a different editor. It was too long, too winding, too much time as stoned teenager in Vegas without any parental supervision. I got bored reading it. And I know others felt the same way.

Beware of labels. As in other aspects of life, I’ve learned not to trust them. Then again I often won’t do something simply because others are. What’s the opposite of peer pressure?

Books can become best sellers at any point in time. Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast made the best seller list in France following the terrorist attacks in the Fall. Every time a new movie version of Pride and Prejudice comes out, the book goes back on the bestseller list.

As an author its the goal – because it means they can slap it on the book and sell even more. It gets your attention as a reader. One great marketing ploy and it works time and again.

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