Blogger Confession: What does New York Times Best Seller mean to a reader?

Posted February 12, 2015 by Felicia S in Blogger Confession / 25 Comments


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Blogger Confession: What does New York Times Best Seller mean to a reader?

Lately I see New York Times Best Selling Author next to a whole lot of author’s names on book titles, marketing emails, blog tours, and websites. I love awards, lists, etc that recognize hard work and dedication. I think they are a great for both goal setting and affirmation of good work. I think they are important in any industry.

new york times best seller

When it comes to seeing New York Times Best Selling Author on a book cover: I have to admit it means nothing to me as a reader. This seems to be a HUGE marketing tool now so I think I am missing the point. I could randomly go look up 100 books on Google and authors I have never heard of have the distinction of being New York Times Best Sellers*. Almost every tour invite, review request, or marketing email I have gotten has something about being on some list. This indicates to me that I am supposed to care.

  • My first thought: that is freaking awesome for them!
  • My second thought: just how common is this becoming now? (Throw in any other best seller title they put by their names too because now there is individual lists on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc out there).
  • My third thought: What exactly do publishers and authors think it means to me as a reader vs What exactly should this mean to me as a reader?

I have never, NOT ONCE, picked up a book because of how many books an author has sold (which best I can tell is exactly what that list is about). I do look at ratings, reviews, and listen to friends but number of books sold-not so much. If it is a new to me author, then I want to see a solid number of 3 and 4 star reviews** OR I want to hear a number of friends tell me it is a can’t miss author. I just don’t care about the sheer number of items sold.Β  So how about y’all?

Have you ever bought a book based on the author being on a best seller list?

Is this something that I should be taking into consideration***?

What do you think about it all?

*I read 200 books a year but only in a few genres. So the fact that I don’t know who some of the authors are is not surprising.
**Yes I trust books that have more 3 and 4 star reviews more than a bunch of 5 star reviews. I always assume if a book has mostly 5 star reviews they were written by friends, family, and street team members.
***I probably won’t but I would love to hear the case around it. I am open to why!
Felicia S
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25 responses to “Blogger Confession: What does New York Times Best Seller mean to a reader?

  1. When I was a newbie reader, I’d look at the list & see if anything resonated. But I’m with you, the Best Seller list means nil. I go off what you peeps recommend & by reviews on GRs.

  2. I don’t think about it all. I think it’s partly a combination of yes, how common it is to see “Best Seller” tacked on an author’s name, NY Times, USA Today, or otherwise, and also . . . who cares? Not me. So if you determine you should be more interested, please let me know why, b/c it makes no difference to me either.

  3. It means absolutely nothing to me! I mean, I’m sure it’s a great accomplishment for the author, but it doesn’t make me want to read their books. Just because they sold a ton of books, doesn’t mean I’ll like them. It actually annoys me a bit when I see it on a book cover or in a review request e-mail. It seems like EVERY author is on the list, which makes it seem less prestigious to me. But even if only a handful of authors made the list, I still wouldn’t be more likely to read their books.

  4. Kelly C

    I feel like I could have wrote this post….only I don’t write. LOL I was actually thinking about this the other day. It’s so common to see it now that it is nearly meaningless. Of course, I don’t care if an author is a best seller or not I just love to read and read whatever catches my attention.

  5. Most people who help self-publishers and authors will tell you to add “Best seller” to your book because it says, “Others have read this” — which is just another way to get people to pick up the book. And while “best seller” titles don’t really mean much to readers (as evidenced by the comments), they do add a sense of legitimacy (rightly or not). A reader may not pick up a book just because it’s on a best seller list, but how often do they take a chance on an unknown?

  6. I will be 100% honest…I don’t care. Good For them, it’s a great accomplishment but just because you are on the Best Seller doesn’t mean I am going to like it. I don’t really think as a reader, with different moods and tastes a book, the best sellers list would make me want to read it more or less. It’s what the story is about that I care about the most Oh and a pretty cover doesn’t hurt either πŸ™‚

  7. I’m really happy for the author that they made the list. I think it opens doors for them to have their books in more places (Walmart, grocery stores, airports, etc.), but it does not effect my buying of books. I’ll read a debut book if one of my blogger friends tells me I have to because it is that good. Also, so many authors write under different pen names. They may be a best selling author under one name and not the other. That doesn’t make write better under one name than the other.

  8. If it were not such a common listing/title, I would probably care a whole lot more. As it is, it is on so many titles and next to so many author\’s names that it lacks the appeal of exclusivity that it is supposed to elicit. I don\’t recall ever picking up an author\’s book as result of seeing \”Besteller\”, or anything similar. I care about the quality of the story, rather than how many of them the author has sold.

  9. You know I don’t even know if authors I read are on NYT best sellers list. I think it means more for the author in terms of getting contracts than it does to most readers. Although I guess there are probably some (snobby?) readers who only read authors on NYT list. Not me!

  10. Yeah I don’t give a fig about new York best sellers. I’d much rather see a book with good ratings and reviews than whether or not it’s a New York best seller. Because at least a good review makes me think, “Huh. this many people liked it, maybe I will too!”

  11. Completely agreed! I don’t even notice that sort of thing in marketing material anymore because I don’t care. I also suspect that that sort of thing is fudged sometimes especially when they just say “Best Selling Author!” instead of specifying what list ya know?

  12. Yeah, this means absolutely nothing to me. Just like the best singer might not win American Idol, I don’t really focus on which books have won awards as this is such a subjective industry. I go with Goodreads and my gut mostly.

  13. This is a tough one. For me, reading is such a subjective thing that I really don’t look at what awards or titles a book or author has been given. If the book looks good, I’ll read it. If it doesn’t look like my cup of tea, I’ll probably pass it by. That being said, if I do love a book, I might see what awards it has won or if the author has won any other writing awards, but with physical books becoming New York Times Bestsellers and ebooks becoming New York Times Bestsellers, not to mention the fact that there are SO MANY titles and awards and whatnot these days, I think it all comes down to whether or not I enjoy the book. I mean, even though you’ve released tons of books and became a bestselling author, that doesn’t necessarily mean that EVERYONE will enjoy your books. It could also mean that you have other people writing for you (like James Patterson) OR you write to a specific formula to churn out the books. There are just so many factors that it should just come down to a person reading what they want, regardless of outside factors.

  14. Well honestly I think in my head. yay good for you but it doesn’t change why I pick a title. Number of books sold doesn’t mean number of books read. 500 people could have bought your book and only 200 of them actually read it. I go more by recommendations and reviews.

  15. Before digital publishing, before Amazon, the New York Times bestseller list was one of the best barometers for the popularity of a book. It’s what I and many others referenced when looking for good books/authors to check out. I also used the NYT Sunday book reviews to learn about books.

    Now that we have reader reviews available on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, along with those provided by book bloggers, reliance on those lists, at least for me, has lessened considerably. When I see that an author has reached the bestseller list status, it tells me they’ve sold a lot of books. However, because there are so many ways to game the system, I know I need to do more research (checking out reviews). But, making that list does have an author pass at least one threshold test.

    Great question!

  16. It means nothing to me, I never go by any of that stuff when it comes to choosing a book to read. A lot of times if it’s on some sort of list I don’t like it. LOL (same with movies, I rarely like the Oscar nominated movies). I think it’s good for the author to be praised as a great writer but it doesn’t mean I will like their book any more just because it says New York Times Best Seller. πŸ™‚