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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The New York Times Best Seller list is widely considered to be the preeminent list of best-selling books in the United States.[1][2] It is published weekly in the The New York Times Book Review magazine, which is usually found inserted in the Sunday edition of The New York Times, or as a stand-alone subscription. The best-seller list has been ongoing since April 9, 1942.



The list is created by the editors of the "News Surveys" department, and not by The New York Times Book Review department, where it is published.

The list is based on weekly sales reports obtained from selected samples of independent and chain bookstores, as well as wholesalers, throughout the United States. The sales figures are widely believed to represent books that have actually been sold at retail, rather than wholesale figures,[3] as the Times surveys a number of actual booksellers in an attempt to better reflect what is actually purchased by individual buyers. Some books are flagged with a dagger (†) 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.[4] As of 1992, according to Edwin Diamond in his book Behind the Times, the survey encompasses over 3,000 bookstores as well as "representative wholesalers with more than 28,000 other retail outlets, including variety stores and supermarkets."[4]

The list is divided into fiction and non-fiction sections; each contain ten to twenty titles. Expanded lists that show additional titles are available online through the Book Review website. In early 1984 the "Advice, How-to and Miscellaneous" list was created because advice best-sellers were crowding out the general non-fiction list.[5] In July 2000 a children's literature section was created; some publishers complained that the Harry Potter series wouldn't leave the top spots on the list and was not leaving enough room for their books.[6] Starting with the September 23, 2007 issue, the paperback fiction list was divided into two lists, "Trade Fiction" and "Mass-Market Fiction", because "it gives more emphasis on the literary novels and short-story collections reviewed so often in our pages".[7]

In 1999, announced a fifty-percent decrease in price for books on the Best Seller List to beat its competition, Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble then sued The New York Times after it demanded that Amazon stop using the Best Seller list on their site.[8]. The parties settled before the case went to trial.[9]


According to Alan T. Sorensen of Stanford Business School,[10] who studied sales of hardcover fiction, the majority of book buyers use the Times’ list to see what is worth reading. Therefore, according to Sorensen, relatively unknown writers get the biggest benefit from being on the list, while for already best-selling authors such as Danielle Steel or John Grisham, being on the list makes virtually no difference in increasing sales.

See also


  1. ^ John Bear, The #1 New York Times Best Seller: intriguing facts about the 484 books that have been #1 New York Times bestsellers since the first list, 50 years ago, Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 1992.
  2. ^ Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), Chairman, Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection, said "the New York Times best-seller list is widely considered to be one of the most authoritative lists of which books are selling the most in American bookstores" during his Opening Statement for Hearing on H.R. 1858 on June 15, 1999.
  3. ^ "Blatty Sue Times on Best-Seller List", from The New York Times, August 29, 1983.
  4. ^ a b Edwin Diamond (1995). Behind the Times: Inside the New New York Times. Page 364
  5. ^ New York Times Book Review, "TBR: Inside the list". February 24, 2008. page 26.
  6. ^ Bestseller Math. November 12, 2001.
  7. ^ The New York Times Book Review, "Up Front", pg.4 - September 23, 2007
  8. ^ Who owns the New York Times bestseller list? , by Scott Rosenberg,, June 23, 1999
  9. ^ and The New York Times Settle Legal Dispute Over Use of Times Best Sellers List, Business Wire, August 9, 1990
  10. ^ "Readers Tap Best-Seller List for New Authors", Stanford Business Magazine, February 2005. Last accessed December 2006. See also Alan T. Sorensen, Bestseller Lists and Product Variety: The Case of Book Sales, May 2004.

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