Bestsellers: A Very Short Introduction

Front Cover
'I rejoice', said Doctor Johnson, 'to concur with the Common Reader.' For the last century, the tastes and preferences of the common reader have been reflected in the American and British bestseller lists, and this Very Short Introduction takes an engaging look through the lists to reveal what we have been reading - and why. John Sutherland shows that bestseller lists monitor one of the strongest pulses in modern literature and are therefore worthy of serious study. Along the way, he lifts the lid on the bestseller industry, examines what makes a book into a bestseller, and asks what separates bestsellers from canonical fiction. Exploring the relationship between bestsellers and the fashions, ideologies, and cultural concerns of the day, the book includes short case-studies and lively summaries of bestsellers through the years: from In His Steps - now almost totally forgotten, but the biggest all-time bestseller between 1895 and 1945, to Gone with the Wind and The Andromeda Strain, and The Da Vinci Code. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AngelaJMaher - LibraryThing

A fairly good overview of what a bestseller is, and isn't, and the factors that influence sales. It won't tell you how to write one, nor does it go into any detail on individual books, but if you like books it has some interest. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ericlee - LibraryThing

A very good introduction, from a British perspective, to the best-seller list. Read full review

Contents

1 Definitions
1
2 The modern scene
23
3 Fields and lists
32
4 The American bestseller
44
5 The British bestseller
81
is there one?
109
Further reading
114
Index
117
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

John Sutherland is Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London, and Professor of Literature at Caltech. He has published many books, including, most recently, So You Think You Know Jane Austen? and So You Think You Know Thomas Hardy?, and has edited 15 volumes in the Oxford World's Classics series (most recently Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians). He writes and reviews widely, includingin the TLS and LRB, and writes regular columns in the Guardian, Financial Times, New Statesman, and Sunday Telegraph. In 2005, he was chair of the Man-Booker fiction prize committee.