We need to talk about the list.

Here are some fun facts about the New York Times Bestseller List:

1) According to the New York Times, the bestseller list is curated. The methodology is considered proprietary, and has not been disclosed.

Methodology:

For this analysis, I recorded 129 weeks’ worth of data from the NYT Bestseller list for YA Hardcover.

Metrics analyzed:

I primarily focused on three metrics: books that hit the list, authors whose books hit the list, and number of weeks a book occupied a spot on the list. Each of these has been broken out by race. Furthermore, I also collected data on the publishing imprint and parent publisher, so as to better identify publisher-specific trends.

Overall Findings:

Figure 1: Industry totals. Not promising.

A screenshot of a spreadsheet with the relevant and horrible data
A screenshot of a spreadsheet with the relevant and horrible data
Another screenshot of a spreadsheet showing white debuts are overrepresented.
Another screenshot of a spreadsheet showing white debuts are overrepresented.

Further Findings

I did say I broke these out by publisher as well.

More Fun Facts:

  • Between 12/31/17 and 6/13/20, John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down spent 53 weeks on the NYT YA Hardcover Bestseller List. That’s exactly as much time as every East Asian author combined!
  • Eleven imprints represent 62% of the titles on the list, and 62.5% of the authors:
  • In the last two and a half years, twelve white authors have debuted on the NYT YA Hardcover Bestseller list. Of these, four titles only appeared on the list once. Of the titles that appeared once, two debuted at #2, then did not appear in any subsequent weeks.
  • Since 12/31/17, no Latinx, Afro-Latinx, or Indigenous debut authors have made it onto the list. No Black debut authors have made it onto the list since Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, over two years ago.
  • We need to talk about the list.

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