Top Best Seller Book Lists

Learn about the various top bestseller book lists, where you can find them, and how they are compiled.


Top Best Seller Book Lists

Books listed on best selling lists go on to become even more successful, selling many more copies. But, what exactly is a bestseller list? How are they compiled? And where are they found?

Bestseller lists are a ranking of those books selling the fastest in a given period of time, often each week. The rankings are calculated in various ways, depending on the individual list. Some are compiled from information received from bookstores about their sales; others get raw data from wholesalers. None of them can tell you which books have sold the most copies over time, just which books are hottest-selling now.

Media lists

The New York Times Best Seller Lists

Appearing every Sunday, The New York Times Best Seller Lists have long been considered the premier place for an author and his or her book to be. Data is compiled from 4,000 stores and wholesalers. The main lists are hardcover and paperback books, with further divisions into other categories including: Fiction, Nonfiction, Advice & How-To, and Miscellaneous. A website category is Chains Versus Independents, which tracks how books are selling in the chain bookstores as opposed to independently owned stores.

USA Today Weekly Top 150 Best Sellers

Using computer data from retail stores, this list tracks all books sold in about 3,000 larger bookstores during the past week, which covers over one million titles. The list includes all types and categories of books mixed together based on actual sales, not by taking a smaller sample and extrapolating the statistics. Their lists include sales from bricks and mortar stores as well as online stores. The Top 50 titles are printed in the USA Today’s Life section every Thursday.

Book Sense Bestsellers

Using reports from independent bookstores only, this list is published in over a dozen newspapers as well as U. S. News and World Report and on CSPAN. Their lists include hardcover fiction, hardcover nonfiction, trade paperback fiction, trade paperback nonfiction, and mass market paperback.

Wall Street Journal Best Sellers (Click on Leisure, then Best Selling Books)

The opposite of the Book Sense list, the Wall Street Journal collects reports from over 2500 chain bookstores as well as from amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Their lists cover fiction, nonfiction, and business books.

Online retailer lists

Amazon.com Most Popular Books

This list, updated hourly, contains the top one hundred books selling at the Amazon.com website. You can also choose from a number of categories to view top selling books of all types, or you can do a subject search, which ranks books based on sales.

Barnes and Noble Top 100

Updated hourly, this list contains the top one hundred books selling at the Barnes and Noble website. Also on their website, you can find the weekly bestsellers at their stores. Other interesting lists include their daily top ten books by subject, and their year-to-date best sellers.

Industry lists

The Book Standard Bestsellers

Available every Thursday, the Book Standard Bestsellers Chart analyzes data from Nielsen’s BookScan, electronically tracking sales from 4500 retailers to create the lists. Their main lists are Overall, Fiction, Nonfiction, Regional and Top Category Sellers, which further calculates top sellers in about 150 different book lists. The data dates back to Jan. 1, 2001. These lists are used primarily by industry professionals, but you can see the top ten sellers in the main lists for free; the others require subscription.

Publisher’s Weekly Best Seller Lists

Publisher’s Weekly Best Selling lists are divided up into hardcover fiction, hardcover nonfiction, trade paperback (contains both fiction and nonfiction) and mass-market paperback. Their other lists include religion and audio fiction and nonfiction. Widely read by authors and publishing professionals, these lists appear in their weekly magazine.

Older lists, covering the years 1900-1995

Past Best Sellers Almanac

Curious about what titles might have been on previous bestseller lists? Here is a source of the best selling fiction and nonfiction books divided by decade, then broken down by year, going back to 1900.

Copyright 2006-2007 by Barbara Doyen. All rights reserved.

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