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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006 10:01 am
The Interpretation of Disappointing Sales
Posted by: Keir Graff

In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg had an interesting article examining why Jed Rubenfeld’s The Interpretation of Murder only hit #18 on the New York Times extended bestseller list. As Caleb Carr sagely notes, “you can’t schedule cosmic events.”

Trachtenberg also discusses Barnes & Noble’s “Barnes & Noble Recommends” program, which provided a huge boost to Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale:

The program, which launched Sept. 12, focuses all the retailer’s employees on a single title. It includes in-store displays, promotions online and direct emails to customers. “It’s the first time we put everything, including 40,000 booksellers who hand sell books, behind one title,” says Steve Riggio, the chain’s CEO. With that big push, the book hit No. 1 at the chain the first day it went on sale.

I hope Mr. Riggio appreciated the irony of his words when he saw them in print. Ordering all of your employees to push a single book is not “hand selling.”

Personally, I miss the midlist.

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