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By John Sutherland

Woman Chatterley's Lover. The Blue Lagoon. Portnoy's grievance. The Da Vinci Code. For the final century, the tastes and personal tastes of the typical reader were mirrored within the American and British bestseller lists, and this Very brief advent takes an attractive glance through the lists to bare what we have now been reading--and why. John Sutherland indicates that bestseller lists computer screen one of many most powerful pulses in glossy literature and are for that reason important of great learn. Exploring the connection among bestsellers and the models, ideologies, and cultural issues of the day, the ebook comprises brief case-studies and vigorous summaries of bestsellers over the years: from In His Steps--now virtually absolutely forgotten, however the largest all-time bestseller among 1895 and 1945--to long past with the Wind, The Andromeda pressure, and The Da Vinci Code. Discussing either vintage and modern novels, along a few fabulous titles and long-forgotten names. Sutherland lifts the lid at the bestseller undefined, revealing what makes a booklet right into a bestseller and what separates bestsellers from canonical fiction.

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His amiable trawl in the course of the heritage of renowned books is often interesting Scott Pack, the days breezily wonderful Kevin strength, Irish instances (Dublin) Sutherland successfully demanding situations the idea book's advertisement good fortune in some way invalidates both its author's integrity or the serious acumen of its readers. in its place we're provided a believable imaginative and prescient of the blockbuster or the bodice-ripper as narrative in its purest shape. Jonathan Keates, TLS

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Extra resources for Bestsellers: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Example text

Why, then, sell books like baked beans? Or so the British book trade felt. As a result of this cultural resistance, the first reliable lists did not arrive in the UK until the mid-1970s, when the Bookseller began 16 assembling them for the trade, and The Sunday Times began making them available to the reading public. Over following years they became an established feature of the British book world, which has in other ways accommodated to American high-pressure salesmanship – more so after the abolition of the NBA in 1995, and the evolution of the traditional high street bookstore into something virtually indistinguishable from the American hyperstore.

Amazon’s new and used title catalogue grows weekly. With a couple of keystroke clicks and a number inscribed in plastic, the reader has a choice of some two million fiction titles, and more every year. There are so many novels that even if one dedicated one’s whole life to reading them, and doing little else, one would – novel in hand on one’s deathbed – only have scratched the surface of the fiction mountain. Why, then, are so many million citizens reading the one, or the top ten, or (in recent times) the top hundred novels at any one 25 The modern scene Stampede selling time?

Discriminating readers ‘browsed’, like ruminant beasts chewing the cud in an English meadow; they did not ‘stampede’ like maddened cattle across the Great Plains. The high sales pressure associated with American styles of bestsellerism cramped, it was felt, the range of bookshops’ stock. Beneath mountainous piles of whatever ‘the book of the moment’, worthy books struggled to be seen. Books did not ‘compete’ with each other – they were ‘different’, as a successful 1960 British legal defence of retail price maintenance insisted (successfully; the Net Book Agreement was judged ‘legal’).

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