On April 21, 1974, the UK’s first definitive weekly national bestseller list was published.Keeping a finger on the nation’s reading pulse in this way had been routine in America since the 1890s. Americans loved their bestseller lists. Why? Because US society is organised around winners and losers. The UK loathed bestseller lists. Why? Because they were unEnglish. Books, we believed, did not compete against each other. Paying attention to a book not for its quality but for the quantity it sold was Yankee philistinism.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
We'll come back to author blogging shortly, but in the meantime I had to post a link to this article on the tradition of the bestseller list (thanks, Maud Newton). This is a fascinating and rather tongue-in-cheek Times history of the bestseller list in England. I'm excerpting my favorite paragraph here: