So here’s something I’ve been wondering.
My understanding is that the NYT Bestseller List is determined from a private formula that takes into account the sales figures from a representative sampling of stores in strategic geographical locations, as well as an overall look at sales across the country. I don’t think it includes sales from non-bookstore locations such as Walmart or grocery stores or airports. I’m not sure if it includes online sales through Amazon and the like.
Now, I’m certainly not devaluing the achievement that is being a NYT Bestseller. On the contrary, this post is meant to explore and hopefully generate discussion for writers regarding how to reach a wider audience and sell in higher volume. But I’m wondering…if a writer knew which of those bookstores made up the representative sampling across the U.S., couldn’t that writer do a book tour including those specific stores and thereby increase chances of ending up on the list? If a writer made the list once, couldn’t he or she compare in, say, Amazon Author Central the areas where the sales were highest and try to make sure his or her books made it consistently into those stores? And for those who have been NYT Bestsellers, how has it affected sales of your other books?
Here’s another thing I’m wondering, given the changing landscape of publishing. 2011 saw a widespread closure of brick-and-mortar bookstores, specifically with the bankruptcy of Borders. Has that affected the NYT Bestseller formula? I can’t see how it couldn’t. So how has the NYT revised their formula? I looked online in a number of places and couldn’t quite determine if or how online sales figured into the equation. But with e-books likely to replace the mass-market paperback as the easy reading format of choice, I would think that at least in terms of the paperback list and possibly the trade paperback, there would have to be some effect.