Thursday, May 1, 2014

What makes a bestseller?

Max Cryer’s excellent new book Is It True? is #10 on the Booksellers NZ bestseller list for the week ending 26 April – in the International Non-fiction category. Max lives in Auckland and has done so for as long as I can remember. His publisher, Exisle, is based in Waitakere. What’s international about that?

I have grizzled here before about the quirks of these NZ bestseller lists – Nicky Pellegrino lives in Auckland but her novels are counted as International Fiction, because she publishes overseas. Well, yes – but also no.

Another problem with the bestseller lists is that the Nielsen Bookscan data they are based on don’t include sales in Whitcoulls, which is a big chunk of the market, perhaps a quarter. Nor do they include sales to libraries which may, on occasion, be substantial.

Whitcoulls opted out of being included, for unfathomable reasons of their own. So it is not Booksellers NZ’s fault that their bestseller lists don’t give a totally accurate picture of sales. But I can’t understand why Booksellers don’t count Max and Nicky as New Zealand authors. I suspect that if they did, the lists might look a little different some weeks. Well, any time either one of them has a new book out.

Anyway, hooray for Paddy Richardson, in at #10 in the NZ Fiction list this week with her latest novel, Swimming in the Dark. Here is her generous launch speech. Quote unquote:
Swimming in the Dark has been a joy to write. It’s about issues which are very important to me: the way family can be destructive or empowering, the longing for home and the making of home, corruption and the misuse of power and the potential of ordinary people to fight against that and, finally, fear and distrust and the restorative nature of love.

And hooray too for Graeme Lay, whose James Cook’s New World, the second novel in his trilogy about Cook, enters at #8.

Spookily, last July Paddy’s and Graeme’s previous novels were in the Top Ten at the same time, along with Danyl McLauchlan’s Unspeakable Secrets of the Aro Valley. As I boasted then, three novels I’d edited were  not just in the Top Ten but in the Top Five. Less than a year later I have just two in the Top Ten. Obviously losing my touch. Oh well.

So here are Fleetwood Mac in 1969:

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