I’ve seen a good many books recently rise to or debut on the NY Times Bestseller list that have not received good reviews. I’ve also read multiple news articles on how the flop of these “bestsellers” is affecting the publishing industry. For example, the last Harry Potter book sold 8.3 million copies on just 24 hours. One of the biggest titles released these past few months sold a mere 1.2 million copies in one week.
Is the reason these books sales are tanking too much advance hype? Or are people looking for something different in literature these days?
I recently finished what I consider to be a masterpiece of literature (I don’t mind naming it—The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Peel Society). In contrast, I also finished a book by a NY Times Bestselling author. The difference in how I felt as I read these books was marked. The Guernsey book had well-developed, fascinating and enjoyable characters. The authors were able to approach the delicate topic of Nazi occupation during WWII with, oddly enough, hope and humanity. My book club read this book, no one ranking it below a 9 out of 10 (and we are tough critics, believe me). The book I picked up next was supposedly young adult, but contained so many adult themes that I wondered there wasn’t a parental advisory sticker on the cover. How have books such as these risen to NY Times Bestselling status when the gems of literature don’t get enough marketing dollars?
Perhaps editors are pushing authors to produce the next bestseller too quickly, or perhaps they are backing the wrong horse. Or perhaps we as readers want more out of literature, having been spoiled by the true works of art.
Freelance Writer, Young Adult Fiction