Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What makes a winner?

There's a difference between a best seller and a good book.

Not all good books become best sellers or remain best sellers if they ever were best sellers once. I think a Good Book is timeless (Rebecca, Dune, etc.). These books will always be consistent sellers but they won't hit top of the charts again because they've passed into iconic "classic" history.

I think best sellers are dependent on (1) the market -- being in the right place at the right time (2) theme -- a universal theme, like Maggie talked about and (3) good buzz -- water cooler buzz that gives a book a boost.

I also think there's a pop culture quality to a best seller. People who read it feel like they're part of an In Crowd. Think of DaVinci Code -- people felt like they were so hip because they'd read about a 'secret conspiracy' and the whole Jesus/Mary Magdalene thing. It's gives the reader an 'In' cachet to say they've read it.

Does anybody remember The Quincunx? It was a HUGE best seller 10 years (?) ago. HUGE. The author was The Next Big Thing. Hmm. Yeah. Who was that author? I struggled through that book, just like I struggled through The Book of Hours and other NYT best sellers. I never got it. I never understood why they were best sellers or had gotten such glowing reviews. Ditto The Time Traveler's Wife, anything by Margaret Atwood, and anything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I've TRIED to read 'em but I just don't get it.

Hey. Maybe it's a litmus test. Maybe if you get it, you're in the In Crowd.

Yep. That's me. 8)

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