Get your best seller list at the library!

By Jimmie Epling
Darlington County Library System

Walk into a bookstore, peruse a newspaper or magazine, visit an online retail site, or drop by a library and you are likely to discover a “best seller” book display or list. The amazing thing is how many books can lay claim to being a “best seller.” When you take a look a closer look at a best seller’s claim you discover that it appeared on at one of a least a cornucopia of lists. At each of our four locations, the staff of the Darlington County Library System will help you sort through all the list and bestseller claims to find just the right book for you.

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First, let’s take a quick look at best seller lists. The first best sellers list appeared in 1895 in a long dead literary magazine called “The Bookman.” The longest continuously published list was introduced in 1912 by Publishers Weekly, “the bible of the book business.” It is a weekly news magazine focused on the international book publishing business and libraries. The Library uses it as a guide to what to buy as it is the most often cited best sellers list by the media and the Library’s customers.

The New York Times list is likely the list someone is referring to when mentioning a book on “the best sellers list.” This is because of the national prominence of the newspaper itself. Each week, the Times receives sales reports from thousands of bookstores and wholesalers. The figures are based on the number of units sold during a week, not the dollar amount sold. The best sellers are not all lumped together into one list, they are divided into categories by cover type, and the intended audience. The Times publishes a list for adult fiction hardbound, adult nonfiction hardbound, paperbound trade fiction (this is publishers’ jargon for oversize paperbacks in terms of width and height, not thickness), children’s picture books, children’s middle grade (a mixture of fiction and non-fiction), and young adult (generally fiction for ages 12 to 14 and up) books. Along with the title and author’s name there is a brief description of the book. Some of the descriptions are not very informative. The “hook” for the adult fiction hardcover book “Truth or Die” by James Patterson and Howard Roughan (#16) tells us it is about an attorney that “discovers a shocking secret.” OK, that makes me want to jump out of my chair, run to get a copy, and read it.
The Library takes the weekly adult, children’s, middle age, and young adult best sellers list and notes if we have the book. We mark the list with a letter after each book indicates the location where you will find it, Darlington, Hartsville, Lamar, or Society Hill. The Library has every adult fiction hardcover on the Times best sellers list.

1. “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee. DHLS
2. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins. DHLS
3. “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. DHL
4. “Circling the Sun” by Paula Mclain. H
5. “Badlands” by C. J. Box. DHL
6. “The English Spy” by Daniel Silva. DH
7. “Code of Conduct” by Brad Thor. DHL
8. “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. DHLS
9. “Armada” by Ernest Cline. H
10. “Luckiest Girl Alive” by Jessica Knoll. DHL
You do not have to visit the Library to see the list of New York Times best sellers we have, just “friend” the Darlington County Library System’s Facebook page. Every week the lists are posted for you.

Don’t see anything on this best sellers’ list that interests you? Not to worry, there are plenty of other “best seller” lists out there. There are ones based on region, subject, chain store, format, or online retailer ( sales. There is even a list that looks at the most circulated books in public libraries. The lists are based on sample data. The information is used to estimate sales or circulation. Keep in mind, no list tracks every book sold or circulated in the country, so some books have been known to sell more than those on a list. So all this said, let’s have a look at some other lists.

Publishers Weekly has all the same lists as the New York Times and more. It has a list of the top ten best sellers in the number of books sold last week, regardless of intended audience, fiction/nonfiction, or hardbound/ paperbound. This top ten list is a bit different!

1. “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee. DHLS
2. “It ‘Is” About Islam” by Glenn Beck.
3. “Gray Mountain” by John Grisham. DHS
4. “For the Love” by Jen Hatmaker.
5. “The Day the Crayons Came Home” by Daywalt & Jerrers. HS
6. “The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep” by Carl-Johan Ehrlin.
7. “Grey” by E.L. James. DHL
8. “What Pet Should I Get?” By Dr. Seuss. DH
9. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins. DHS
10. “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo HL

With the advent of the Kindle, iPad, and all the other e-readers out there, there is now a New York Times top ten E-book best sellers list!

1. “Small Wars” by Lee Child
2. “Friction” by Sandra Brown
3. “The Murderer’s Daughter” by Jonathan Kellerman
4. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins DHLS
5. “Four Week Fiancé” by J.S. Cooper
6. “The Martian” by Andy Weir DHLS
7. “Love After Dark” by Marie Force
8. “Alert” by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge DHLS
9. “Something Beautiful” by Jamie McGuire
10. “Who Do You Love” by Jennifer Weiner

The Library does not have all the most popular e-books because some publishers have chosen not to sell them to public libraries for fear of losing sales.

The last list we will take a look at is Library Journal’s top ten-fiction best sellers list. It is compiled from data on books borrowed and requested at urban, suburban, and rural public libraries throughout the United States in June. This list is what those who visit the libraries are reading.

1. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins DHLS
2. “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr DH
3. “Memory Man” by David Baldacci DHLS
4. “The Stranger” by Harlan Coben DHLS
5. “Gathering Prey” by John Sandford DHLS
6. “NYPD Red 3” by James Patterson & Marshall Karp DHLS
7. “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah DHLS
8. “The Liar” by Nora Roberts DHS
9. “14th Deadly Sin” by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro DHLS
10. “A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler DHL

Whether you are looking to read a novel, children’s book, paperback, e-book, South Carolina book, or something else there is a best sellers list for you. As you can see just from the four lists mentioned, there are differences. The Darlington County Library System is always looking the myriad list of best sellers to have on hand what you want before you even ask. The next time you see a list and discover something you want to read, do not be surprised to find we already have it either on order or on the self!

Author: Jana Pye

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