I was reading a recent edition of The Bookseller the other day and looking at the lists of bestsellers. Then I thought of the books in Mt TBR and those I have already read this year, wondering if there were any similarities at all. Obviously I can only count those books that I have bought new (or were bought to give to me) so I have excluded library books and books I bought second hand.
I discovered that there are thirty-six books I have read or will read that I have bought new. Not a single one is in the top 50 bestsellers. In fact, not a single one of these books is in any of the charts – top 20 original fiction, top 20 mass market fiction, top 20 heatseekers, top 20 hardback non-fiction, top 20 paperback non-fiction, top 20 children’s books. Obviously, since I have bought these books over a period of some months going back to ahem, last year, I would not expect there to be a direct correlation with the current charts, but I did think there would be perhaps one or two in there.
If I add in the library books I have read this year there is one difference – ‘The Historian’, currently riding high in the chart is there. I didn’t think much of it, so I’m glad I didn’t waste my money and buy it.
Even going back a few months, the situation doesn’t change much, checking copies of The Bookseller from January and May, ‘The Historian‘ is still the only one on any of the lists.
In fact, looking at the bestseller charts, the only other book on them that I have read at all is Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, which I read last year.
What is the point of this? I read somewhere recently that the booktrade definition of a heavy reader is someone who reads four books a year. I presume that makes someone like me the equivalent of twenty-five heavy readers. Twenty-five heavy readers, moreover who could care less about bestsellers, but who care passionately about the long tail because that’s where they find their reading material.
While it is wrong to try and extrapolate from a single example, I doubt I am alone among ultra heavy readers. Since I don’t know the proportion of total book sales that come from bestsellers, I can’t really draw any conclusions, but it struck me, while flicking through The Bookseller, just how idiosyncratic my reading tastes are.
Am I really that unusual?