Friday, June 20, 2008

What Makes A Book Popular?

Hey, hey, everyone! How are all of you?

I’m coming to realize that doing Young Adult Weekly on Friday is not very convenient for me. Today, for instance, I’m setting up for a party I’m throwing and I can’t be on long. Last Friday I couldn’t be on for long either. I hate having to be late putting it up, so I am just going to change the day it gets posted. From now on, Young Adult Weekly gets posted on Saturday and that pushes Reviewer Profiles back to Sunday. That leaves me the entire week to post reviews and interview, which is a plan I am actually liking way better :)

Moving swiftly on...

Yesterday I posted a negative review of Ally Carter’s I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You, which, surprising as it is to me, was met with a generally concurring crowd. I thought you guys would tell me I could stick it because of that post, not agree with it! Color me shocked.

Despite all the positive responses to my review, however, I did get two comments from people who said they didn’t agree. (Which is fine with me, by the by—I don’t mind disagreement. I kind of like it, even—diversity is what makes the world go ’round, yes?) One of them said:

Book Chic said...
Like Em, I actually also really enjoyed this series, though I got both books from the library and pretty much went through them so fast. I love Ally's writing and think she does a great job with it, though, also like Em, I haven't read many, if any at all, spy novels so I have nothing to compare it to.

I don't know, to me, I love these books and think they're hilarious, pretty clever and I love the romances in them (so sweet!). Kinda makes me sad you didn't enjoy it, but different strokes and good on you for being honest.

And the reason (supposedly) sucky books get popular is because a lot of people DO actually like them. It wouldn't be popular if everyone hated it, lol.

June 20, 2008 11:49 AM

Which left me thinking: What makes a book popular? Obviously, an excessive amount of readers. But what makes people go out of their way to buy a certain book? What makes one book have the It factor?

I for one don’t agree with Book Chic’s affirmation. A book by no means has to be well-liked to be widely-sold. For instance, I think Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld is perhaps the best book I’ve ever read. However, a lot of people disagree with me. Just look on Amazon. How many negative reviews does it have? No matter, it went on to sell over 500,000 copies worldwide. Further point-in-case: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I won’t say whether I liked it or not, because that’s irrelevant. How many copies did that one sell? 60,500,000 copies.

One could say The Da Vinci Code inspired a LOT of controversy, which I would argue is the biggest spur of interest among people. But Prep? What controversy is there on that one? Sure, race, class and politics are discussed and some controversial comments were made here and there, but overall, it was just a story about prep school life as seen through the eyes of a cynical and oftentimes misunderstood girl.

And then there is Gallagher Girls, which is just plain dead to me. No controversy, and not much else, either.

So: What factors do you think are involved in making a book a success?

(Side-note: I'm starting a new category: Food for Thought. You'll see more of these questions!)


ambeen said...

Interesting question. Hard to say. Sort of like anything creative or artistic. Artists are rarely successful while alive, and the books we consider classics today often weren't bestsellers in their day.

It's one of those questions that will probably never have a specific answer.

Chelsie said...

One thing I know that makes a book popular is the author. I know a lot of people will be sure to buy a Sarah Dessen book, despite the cover or what it's about, simply because it's Sarah Dessen. But a similar book could do less well if written by a less-known author.

However, I think that what makes a book popular isn't exactly it being well-known. It starts with just enough people liking it, and that makes more people read it. And then the mix of good and bad reviews or recommendations will cause other potential readers to be curious about the book, which they will then decide to read just to see what was so good/bad about it.

But there's also a factor of a book being well-known... not necessarily well-liked, just known. If it's something you see everyday and hear people talking about randomly, you (or I, at least) would be more likely to pick it up and give it a shot, even if I weren't sure whether I'd like it or not.

Not sure if any of that makes sense, but that's what I can come up with. Although I'm sure many people would disagree.


...another page used said...

hey. nice blog. want to do a link exchange?

alison ashlee said...

I question this all the time. There are some authors who seem to really attract a lot of attention; be on bestseller lists; etc. Clearly, there's a spark there, yet ... I find that I don't always understand why. I think Chelsie said a really good point about author recognition. Once, you have the name (and this can be in reference to a 'good' name, or simply because your book was controversial like 'The God Dilemma', as you said about 'The Da Vinci Code'), you'll sell. Unfortunately, the books might not even be that great, but you'll still do well. Unfortunately, this often might see someone who has written some great stuff to be overlooked. But, I certainly hope through word of mouth, or reviews, that the lesser known can become as widely known as the really popular ones. However, I think there's also a cycle. It just goes round and round.

I don't think that made any sense at all ... Sorry!

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