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Content marketing: On the New York Times Bestseller list this week – everybody!

July 26, 2010

Back in 1942, the New York Times started publishing a list of the best-selling hardback books in the country. For decades, the list was the definitive guide to the most popular literature in the USA. Once a book made it into the top-10, commercial success for the author – and the publisher – was pretty much guaranteed.

In the early days, it was not uncommon to see a book top the list for several months at a time. In today’s fast-paced society, books make fleeting appearances on the list – one blink and they’re gone. Even the very best selling authors generally are only able to occupy the top spot for a couple of weeks.

To give you an idea how quickly the book publishing world has changed, consider that 10 years ago, in 1999, 12 fiction novels made it to No. 1 in the best-seller list. Last year, no fewer than 35 novels achieved that same status.

I couldn’t help but laugh when I browsed the bookshelves at my local Borders store at the weekend. At the top of pretty much every book’s front cover were the words: “#1 New York Times Best Seller”.

Publishers take note: when Bethany, one of the housewives from The Real Housewives of New York reality TV show, can boast two New York Times best-sellers, it’s time to step it up and find a more credible message that will convince people like me to buy books.

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