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Old 02-24-2008, 11:36 PM   #1
kilofox
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Bestsellers... Bane or Boon?

I have been reading an interesting thread on the Kindle Board over at Amazon concerning Bestsellers. Is having a book on a Bestsellers list automatically make it a good book? Are we missing "diamonds in the ruff" because we give too much credence to popular books?
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Old 02-24-2008, 11:41 PM   #2
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Some would argue that most of the unpolished "diamonds" of digital texts are most likely not to be found on official e-ink device sites. The content at Amazon & SONY Connect are there because of a major investment on the part of large publishing houses. Not surprisingly, the Science Fiction houses have been some of the first to branch out into digital texts.

Depending on what your interests are, you can find works created independently.

Personally, I prefer non-fiction or neo-absurdist authors like J. Fforde, Palahniuk, and C. Moore. However, if a book is selling in the hundreds of thousands, someone must doing something right.
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Old 02-24-2008, 11:50 PM   #3
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I guess I am getting caught in comparing book buying to movies. Example, There Will Be Blood vs Transformers. I am sure that Transformers will trounce TWBB at the boxoffice. Does that make it a better movie per se? While I enjoyed Transformers for what it was, TWBB was a much better movie IMO.

Do books have the same issues? Sometimes I think so.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:18 AM   #4
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Kilo-

That's rather my point. Transformers showed on more theatres than I have tentacles. Had no idea "Blood" existed until a friend mentioned online that it was an Oscar contender.

Look to Amazon.com/CONNECT, et al for Transformer fiction, and search on your own--or on this site--for the intellectual, fulfilling other stuff.

Many illustrious, generous members here post a great deal of content particularly formulated for optimum consumption on your particular device.

Yesterday, after the CONNECT site was being slow and buggy (like all ways), I looked at the NYTimes best seller list. There was little on the list that I have any inclination to read. Sadly, I think that will all ways be the case.

With the increasing technology and appeal of e-ink devices and the propagation of more titles, there is a greater chance for niche markets to develop. Of course, that means that while we consumers have the heady freedom to choose from a plethora or texts, there is a daunting responsibility to do some homework in selecting said purchase.

Many people note that publishing houses do serve a purpose, helping an author to mature, proofreading, and 'vetting' titles for public consumption.

Hollywood will forever have mindless blockbusters, and the NYTimes will forever have vapid bestsellers.
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Old 02-25-2008, 02:39 AM   #5
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I think the Harry Potter phenomenon is a good example of books outselling their literary merit.
That's not to say the books are dreadful, but much better books have sold much less.
But one of the joys of book reading is occasionally making your own discoveries, rather than always being lead by the nose by bestseller lists.
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Old 02-25-2008, 06:25 AM   #6
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I don't care about bestseller lists.

I base my opinion on different sources of information.
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Old 02-25-2008, 06:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astra_lestat View Post
I don't care about bestseller lists.

I base my opinion on different sources of information.
What he said.

Best sellers are just like blockbuster movies or popular tv shows. As someone mentioned previously, popularity is in no way directly related to quality.

And while a great deal of the list is crap, you have things like the Kite Runner on it as well.

Personally, I don't really concern myself with best seller lists in the slightest. As Astra said, I go by other sources of info.

American Idol is pretty popular, too.... but that doesn't mean I want anything to do with it.
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Old 02-25-2008, 09:48 AM   #8
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A "bestseller book" is NOT automatically a good book... just well-known and popular enough to garner a lot of sales. And bestseller lists are self-perpetuating. Generally, the effort put into advertising them, directly or as one of the bestseller list books, tends to block our view of the rest of the good stuff on the shelf with it.

One thing I'll say about Amazon: Although they are obviously pushing Big Pub's books, at least they make it possible for independents (like me) to publish on their platform. It's still decidedly skewed in Big Pub's favor, but with some creative tagging, a little buzz, and a wee bit of luck, I think even indies could make a big splash in the Kindle store.

I don't rely on bestseller lists to find books... on the other hand, right now I don't have the reliable source of book recommendations, based on what I like to read, that I've had in the past. (It used to be bookstore owners and clerks who knew me, knew what they sold, and could steer me to the good stuff.) I'm still looking for something comparable.
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Old 02-25-2008, 09:54 AM   #9
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When I look at the "bestsellers" list in my local bookshop, they seem to consist largely of ghost-written "autobiographies" of "celebrities" I've never heard of, and the latest fashionable "diet" that I have no interest in. It seems to be much more about marketing than literary merit. I wonder how many of them will still be being read in 100 years' time - or even 10 years' time, come to that!
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Old 02-25-2008, 10:11 AM   #10
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Old 03-02-2008, 10:29 PM   #11
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If Oprah recommends a book, it gets to be a best seller even though MOST of her choices are not all that wonderful.
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Old 03-02-2008, 11:00 PM   #12
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Oh, I so totally will read a book that Oprah suggests.

Pfft. The sad thing is, I bet a passel of her mindless fans went to university as liberal arts majors and should have read half the books she suggests. That is, the ones that aren't fabrications parading as memoirs.

Clarification:

Many people are far too haughty about popularity.

Popularity and quality are indeed not reflexive, but neither are they mutually exclusive.

Films like "Transformers" are immensely popular, and that one was at least entertaining for what it was.

Similarly, the film "Blue Water, White Death" has finally made it onto DVD. This documentary is a masterpiece of high-seas Cinema Verite(accent), as well as a possible inspiration for a Mr. Peter Benchley. In my opinion, it's also the inspiration for "The Life Aquatic." Anyway, it is an amazing film. If it were not popular, how could it be brought to DVD twenty years later?
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Old 03-03-2008, 01:06 PM   #13
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I've read one or two Oprah books but most don't interest me. Angst ridden chick lit isn't my primary interest. Not into most bestsellers, I will read the occasional celebrity musician biography but mostly stick with science fiction/fantasy.

Anymore, if it doesn't come in an ebook I don't read it all.
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