What’s Selling

And now, a look at The New York Times Best Sellers for Young Adult and Children’s Series.

Over in Young Adult, the highest number you’ll see is 35, because that is how long there has been a separate list for Young Adult.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green continues to be real powerhouse here. Given the attention paid to this 2012 title — the upcoming movie with  Shailene Woodely, press coverage such as his inclusion in EW’s New Hollywood Issue — it’s no surprise to see it on the list at number 1. What is interesting is that Green’s entire backlist also appears on the list. (Well, entire solo author backlist). Every now and then one or two may fall off, but they come back on.

Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth are numbers 2 and 3, making her the sole female on the top ten this week. October 22, 2013 is the date all author YA authors have penciled in their calendars, because when Allegiant is published this officially becomes a series and shifts from the YA list to the Children’s Series list. (Unless, of course, the Times is inconsistent with the 3 makes a series approach.) (If Shailene Woodley’s name looks familiar, it’s because she is also in the Divergent film. She is also in the recently released The Spectacular Now, also an adaptation of a teen book.)

What’s funny is how many older titles are on the list: also in the top ten are The Book Thief (Markus Zusak, 2006); Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher, 2007) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky, 1999).

I’m not sure if any other bestseller list has so many backlist titles. I think it shows that with teens, more than any other reader, books are always new to them. There will always be fourteen year olds discovering these titles.

I also think there is some crossover buying going on, and wonder what the list would look like if there was a way to determine solely sales to teens. And as long as I’m playing that game, what would this list look like without book clubs and summer reading lists? Since book clubs and summer reading lists are school and library driven, I think this also points to the power of schools and libraries in teen reading.

By the numbers, the top ten books features five male authors and one female. Top fifteen changes those numbers to seven male, four female.

Children’s Series are a mix of children’s and teens. The numbers here for male and female are equal: five and five. I’m not sure how much movement there is here, but what I’ll be looking for is when the Divergent series becomes eligible for the series list in October.

I have to confess, I don’t know how The New York Times calculates series numbers. For example, The Mortal Instruments (which has a film coming out, not starring Shailene Woodley) has five titles in it, compared to The Hunger Games three. The Mortal Instruments also has a three title prequel, and I’m not sure if those numbers figure into these calculations.

Inspired by similar posts by Travis Jonker at 100 Scope Notes.

3 thoughts on “What’s Selling

  1. re: backlist titles, I was reading Publishers Weekly last month (can’t remember exactly which issue), and there was a note about Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl not appearing on their bestseller list anymore because it was over a year old. It was still selling a lot of copies, but they only include books published within the past year on their frontlist bestseller lists. So it appears the only PW list to include both frontlist and backlist is children’s picture book.


  2. The thing that surpises me the most about the YA bestseller list is how little impact the Printz awards have on it, a stark contrast to the Newbery effect, even in the weeks right after the awards are announced when you’d expect at least a small spike.


  3. Trisha, that’s interesting! I should take a look at PW

    Susan, a good point about the Printz. Green’s Printz winner is on the list, it seems, more from the power of TFIOS than the Printz.

    I think that they may get a slight bump, but I’m not sure. I also don’t have BookScan numbers, so can’t look there.


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