Popularity and trends also exist in the world of books. And like with people, it is hard to determine exactly why. What makes a book a bestseller? What makes people buy book A over book B? Here are some reasons I have observed:
- They are about ‘in’ topics – A book that contains all the trendy topics and plot lines can quickly rocket to stardom
- They are just darn good books – Often these take longer to become popular but get there all the same. They start off with a few good reviews and before you know it everyone is raving about it
- A celebrity talks about it – A lot of people follow the likes and dislikes of big names. The more ‘lists’ a book is one the greater chance it has of being popular
- Publishers push the advertising – This doesn’t always work, but mostly, popular books are the ones the publishers advertise for like crazy
- It’s written by an already popular author – If the author is already well loved, anything he/she writes is likely to be an instant success
- It’s controversial – morally ambiguous books with lots of gray area tend to generate a lot of discussion
What’s sad is the number of people who only read popular books because those are the only ones they see. If you aren’t a big reader, chances are the only books you’ll have heard of are the ones that are already bestsellers. They are the ones you’ll read about in newspapers, hear on the news and see advertised with flashy posters and cutouts in the bookstore. It is a self full-filling cycle that makes popular books more popular and less known books more obscure. The same thing occurs within the blogging community, with certain books spreading like wildfire from blog to blog and others only read by few. What’s even worse though, are the people who read popular books just because they are popular. People who try to make a statement of how cool they are based on the books they read.
On the positive side, once a book becomes popular, it becomes part of culture – even if it’s just temporarily. You can’t go anywhere without bumping into references from them, forcing you to read them to fit in with your generation. Though it can sometimes be annoying (if you hated the book, or are just sick of hearings about it) it’s proof that books still have a certain degree of influence on society which is awesome.
So what’s the deal with popularity? Why do some books become instant bestsellers? I’d love to hear from you!