Just yesterday I stated that I am not a fan of bestseller lists. And today, here is an article in the New York Times about their own bestseller list- which really doesn’t do a whole lot to clear up some of the questions of how the list is compiled.
Bestseller lists can be made subjective, simply by what the compiler chooses to include or exclude. Not to mention, including sales from a publisher to chain stores (who buy large amounts) or to book distributors (who buy huge amounts). Some lists are more open about how they compile the list, who sends the sales information to them and how the rankings work. If you are someone who reads the bestsellers, choose a list that is open about how it is created.
Once again, my plug is for the Booksense Bestseller List- compiled from sales at independent stores around the country, not chains, not distributors. The list is a real indicator of what readers are buying, and therefore (hopefully), reading.