Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2007 Summaries 

It occurred to me a week or so ago that I should be able to analyze and summarize all the weekly bestseller rankings that I've been compiling for the website, to get some kind of cumulative rankings of overall bestsellers for the entire year. Of course, needless to say, actual total sales of books are not available (except perhaps via the subscription service BookScan, to which I don't subscribe); I had only rankings on the various bestseller lists to analyze, which of course indicate only *relative* sales, in each week, and might easily be misleading as indications of actual sales, especially since lists from some sources separate by format (hardcover, paperback, mass market paperback, trade paperback) and genre (fiction, nonfiction, children's), while others don't... and some sources, like the New York Times, contrive to avoid listing some specific YA titles altogether, e.g. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; NYT has a 'series books' lists for such titles instead.

Anyway--what I found after several iterations of tweaking mapping functions of rankings to scores, to weight rankings on different kinds of lists into some sort of consistent, comparable system, is that subtle adjustments didn't matter very much. The overall rankings of bestsellers could just as easily be based on total number of mentions on the various bestseller lists, regardless of how each mention ranked overall. At least for the top 10 or so in each category...

The tally of books on 'best of the year' lists was easier, and more interesting, partly because some titles get attention from very different audiences. The unstated observation on that page is that certain titles, though popular on those *other* lists, are not included on Locus Magazine's own recommended reading list. Which titles those are, is left an exercise for the reader.

Meanwhile, online votes in the Locus Poll and Survey are flowing in -- over 200 now -- and I've already done a tabulation of the ballots up to yesterday morning. Certain trends are apparent; it will be interesting to see if they prevail.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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