Come find what you are looking for

Published 8:59 am Saturday, November 20, 2021

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One of the best parts of a librarian’s job is when new books are released. Most of us that are readers are familiar with the term ‘bestseller’ and how it is used to draw attention to books and authors. As someone who not only reads books but orders them as well, I was curious about the criteria used to establish what is, and isn’t, a bestseller.

Holly Howze

According to Publisher’s Weekly, a bestseller is a title that sells 5,000 copies a week or more and makes a chart appearance on the two most recognized sales indicators: The New York Times Bestseller List and the Publisher’s Weekly list. These lists reflect sales data compiled from a variety of booksellers and book orders placed by library systems.

Most bestsellers are published by established authors such as James Patterson, Janet Evanovich and Stephen King. These are the superstar writers who can sell books by name recognition alone, but every so often an unknown writer can make a splash. Back in 2019, a new author named Delia Owens published “Where the Crawdads Sing,” which had enormous sales and is still a popular title with book clubs and individual readers.

The Lunenburg County Public Library System (LCPLS) currently has all of the NY Times top ten fiction bestsellers, which includes titles by John Grisham, Nicholas Sparks and Liane Moriarty. Our patrons enjoy these authors, and our checkouts are always brisk when a new title is published. But while librarians may have an easier job marketing books by more famous authors, there are some books that may not become bestsellers in the traditional sense of the word but become popular through word-of-mouth by readers.

“They Never Learn” by Layne Fargo was one our biggest checkouts over the summer. This addictive thriller had a jaw-dropping twist mid-plot that had patrons and staff asking each other, “What did you think of that?” Another crowd-pleaser was “Mary Jane” by Jessica Anya Blau, one of the most delightful coming-of-age stories I’ve read and another title that became popular through patron recommendations. In non-fiction, “Come Fly the World: The Jet Age Story of the Women of Pan Am” by Julia Cooke was a fascinating look at the early airline industry and the stewardesses who flew on the first international flights.

Fall is always a big time for new book titles and thus far the season hasn’t disappointed. “Boys” by Ron and Clint Howard already has a reserve list, and patrons have been asking for weeks when the new installment in the massively popular Outlander series will be coming out. “Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone” will be released on Nov. 22, and to say that it will be a bestseller is probably an understatement! But there are already some less-hyped titles catching on with readers. “Femlandia” by Christina Dalcher is a dystopian thriller that I finished in one sitting and that I’ve been recommending to our patrons who like edgier fiction. If you prefer non-fiction, “The Taking of Jemima Boone” by Matthew Pearle explores one of the lesser-known events in America’s frontier past and is a compelling read.

Whether you are interested in a big-name bestseller, have a favorite author or genre or are just looking for something new, visiting LCPLS may help you find what you are looking for.

Holly Howze is the branch manager for the Ripberger Public Library located in Kenbridge. She can be reached at