A few months ago, I was chatting with our esteemed publisher here at AAR, Dabney, about how the books topping the best seller lists for romance at Amazon weren’t the one we were covering on the site nor were they the ones we saw being talked about on Twitter.
We bandied about some ideas as to why this was, never really coming to a conclusion, but I’ve been keeping an eye on the bestseller list ever since. As I write this, of the Top Ten best sellers in the general Romance category – I recognize the name of three authors. While I’m certainly not the arbiter of what is known in Romance, I do spend a lot of time in Romancelandia – or, at least, the version that exists on our site and on Twitter. What I’m wondering, more and more, is if that’s a representative view at all.
Now, before you cry foul, I know that Amazon’s algorithms are abused beyond reason, that Kindle Unlimited is a dumpster fire, and that best seller doesn’t equal quality. But when I combine this wondering with the fact that whenever Goodreads releases its Best Of polls, our staff scratches our head at at least a few of them… well, I’m starting to see patterns and I wanted to open it up to you brilliant AAR readers for your input.
Best seller lists are influential in part because readers frequently buy books they perceive as important because their peers deem it so. How many books are on the New York Times Bestseller list simply because of the loop of their being on the list so people buy them so they stay on the list? I’d bet many.
We’re a voracious bunch, us romance readers, and every statistic on the planet will tell you so. To my mind, that means the Best Seller lists warrant even more anthropological attention, since people turn to it for recommendations when they’re looking for new reads. This holds true for both Amazon and in brick-and-mortar bookstores. Like me, Dabney talks with romance readers all the time who have never heard of AAR (sad face), but can tell us the books they’ve tried because their library featured them, or because they were on the Best Sellers table at Barnes & Noble, etc. And, given Amazon’s dominance in book sales – numbers are hard to come by but most say the company sells at least 65% of all books sold – I feel sure that their lists are strong influencers on romance shoppers.
So, according to the Amazon list, what are people reading?
Suspense with romantic elements, paranormal (which I keep hearing on Twitter is dying, so that’s interesting), and Alpha heroes in tales dripping with so much angst that my adolescent self told them to calm down.
A brief scan of a few tags on Twitter tells me that the books getting focus over there are ones that have cinnamon roll heroes, diverse heroines, and covers with adirondack chairs.
I’m not saying one is wrong and one is right – I’m simply saying they’re pretty different and I think that’s interesting. Am I the only one? Thoughts?