The NYT bestsellers aren't my bestsellers

The bestsellers on the used market aren’t necessarily the best sellers you see on the New York Times list or on Amazon’s hot list.  Often they bear no relation to each other.  However, statistics on the used market can be devilishly difficult to come by.  And of course, it’s all relative too.  The bestsellers in a small New England town where I am may be totally different than what sells in a shop in the heart of London.  But “what’s your bestseller?” is a question I get asked a lot by people considering getting into the book business.

So here’s the bestsellers for my shop Rainy Day Paperback.  I’m a used brick and mortar bookstore in Bethel, CT, USA, a small suburban, semi-rural town about 2 hours outside New York.

I’ve focused on categories rather than individual titles and I’ve sliced them three different ways. The X# tells you roughly the ratio between the bottom category listed and the one with the number.  So, int he first list, I sold twice as many westerns as I did romantic suspense.

These numbers are for a six month period.  They do NOT include any of the online sales, since those are almost entirely different than the in store sales.

Total dollar value:  listed categories, when totaled together accounted for 80% of total dollars. I have 40 categories total.

  1. Mystery (X7.5)
  2. Contemporary literature (x4.5)
  3. Contemporary Romance (X4)
  4. Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror
  5. Historical Romance
  6. Westerns (X2)
  7. Children’s Books
  8. Thrillers
  9. Romantic Suspense

By volumes sold:  listed categories, when totaled together accounted for 80% of total number of books sold. I have 40 categories total

  1. Mystery (X6)
  2. Contemporary Romance (x3)
  3. Contemporary Literature
  4. Children’s Books
  5. Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror
  6. Westerns
  7. Historical Romance (X2)
  8. Classics
  9. Thrillers

By productivity: productivity is the volume of books sold vs the amount of space occupied.  All listed categories turned over at least 1/4 of the contents.

  1. Contemporary Romance (X2)
  2. Contemporary Literature
  3. Mystery
  4. Westerns
  5. Romantic Comedy
  6. Christian Fiction
  7. Science
  8. Historical Romance
  9. Thriller
  10. Large Print
  11. Paranormal Romance
  12. History

Since mystery, contemporary literature, and contemporary romance basically flip flop around as to which is the most productive by various metrics but stay in the top three, its worthwhile looking at what authors sold the most. Multiple authors on the same line  indicate a tie.

Mystery, top 10 authors:

  1. Agatha Christie (x3)
  2. James Patterson
  3. Robert Parker
  4. Stuart Woods
  5. Michael Connelly (X2)
  6. Jonathan Kellerman
  7. J.A. Jance & Patricia Cornwell
  8. Mary Higgins Clark  & Coben
  9. Lee Child
  10. John Sandford & Lisa Scottoline & Greg Iles & Jonathan Kellerman

Top 10 Contemporary Romance

  1. Debbie Macomber (x4)
  2. Linda Lael Miller
  3. anthologies (X3)
  4. Sandra Brown & Jude Deveraux
  5. Luanne Rice
  6. Diana Palmer (X2)
  7. Susan Wiggs
  8. Sherryl Woods
  9. Jayne Anne Krentz
  10. Elizabeth Lowell

Top 5 Contemporary Fiction/ Contemporary Literature

  1. Nora Roberts (X6.5)
  2. Fern Michaels (X3.5)
  3. Jodi Picoult (X3)
  4. Belva Plain
  5. Khaled Hosseini

Top 10, from those 3 categories combined

  1. Nora Roberts (X2.5)
  2. debbie Macomber (X2)
  3. Linda Lael Miller
  4. Agatha Christie
  5. anthology
  6. James Patterson
  7. Robert Parker
  8. Sandra Brown & Jude Deveraux
  9. Fern Michaels & Stuart Woods
  10. Luanne Rice

Agatha Christie does amazingly well for being dead for 43 years.

5 thoughts on “The NYT bestsellers aren't my bestsellers”

  1. Interesting statistics. Most surprising thing (to me) is the super-strong performance by Agatha Christie in the year 2009.

    • The local school district assigned “and Then There Were None” (Ten Little Indians) as required summer reading for high schoolers the last few years. They didn’t assign it this year, but exposing people to Christie again seems to have boosted demand over all.

  2. The NYT bestsellers aren’t ours either; we’re also an “all new” store — no used books. We generate our lists from sales. When someone asks “Where is your NYT bestsellers display,” we say, “Our bestsellers are chosen by our customers,” which elicits an “Oh, really?!” and the conversation continues. (I echo the Agatha Christie surge – she started moving this summer, we brought in her backlist and still have requests!)

Comments are closed.