End of Year Lists Sell Books

RT's Kate Ryan talks about the way that End of Year lists sell books and provides several valuable list resources and ideas for incorporating them into your store!

For many readers December is an opportunity to reflect on what the best books of the year are. As a bookseller, you will have a good sense of what your store's bestsellers are, and probably helped hand sell books that might be "sleepers" elsewhere, making them stars in your store. Every store should compile their own lists as well as share other top picks. Lists give people confidence. If a book is recommended, chances are good you will like the book yourself. Looking at other lists is always an asset to a bookseller because grouping material always helps to sell it. When people talk about books, other people want to read them.

There are quite a few good year end sources for these lists: and most of them are compiled by librarians. A great source is: www.earlyword.com. Editor Nora Rawlinson offers an excel spreadsheet featuring all adult books mentioned on four sites. These include: The NY Times Book Review Notable List including top ten list, Publisher's Weekly Top Ten, Library Journal Top Ten Best Books, Best Genre Fiction and Best How-To. The spreadsheet also indicates which books made all lists, so you can winnow down pretty easily, if you choose. They have an equivalent list for children's books too.

Another valuable source is the Book Group Buzz, which is a blog about book groups. They are working on compiling one gigantic list which they will post with almost everything on it. You can learn more here: http:/bookgroupbuzz.booklistonline.com/2010/11/24/compiling-the-best-books-of-2010/

Indie bound has something they call the next list with what they think will be the next big talked about books of the month. They even provide downloadable shelf talkers. Go to
www.news.bookweb.org/news/december-2010-indie-next-list-preview online or take a look at the pdf here, http://bookweb.org/files/open/files/lists/2010/2010full.pdf.

Some lists that feature more specific books include "the green bean teen queen" a teen and tween librarian who has comprehensive lists with possible award winning titles. Check here for details:

The Southern Independent Bookseller Association (SIBA) has "Okra Picks", clearly a play on the Oprah Picks , and as they describe they "are fresh from the vine books that SIBA thinks are worth of being hand-sold". All have a Southern theme, are set in the South or are written by Southerners.

Other important lists are the ones compiled by the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, The LA Times and the one compiled by the Guardian. See the Guardian’s list here:


Although year end lists are valuable, books grouped by lists are a useful selling tool all year. Grouping material makes it stand out-whether you make a display or simply shelve books by category people see them differently. Any kind of list calls attention to books you may or may not have heard of, books worthy of notice.

If you want some fun lists that are not date specific check out the BBC list of the 100 Books everyone should read. The list is odd and quirky. (Check it out here: www.bbc.co.uk/arts/bigread/top100.shtml) It promotes endless discussion, plus chances are you have many of these books in stock.

Another fun list is the Penguin 100, a list of the most influential books Penguin has ever published. The last two years they have featured contests where you have to help them select the most influential books of the century. Which you can access here: http://us.penguingroup.com/static/pages/features/tenessentialclassics/index.html

Another great source is a new book published by Sterling called 500 Essential Cult Books: The Ultimate Guide by Gina McKinnon and Steve Holland. This book is a bookseller's dream, perfect for displays such as Table Tops, Book Clubs, Spin Off Book Clubs, Anniversary Celebrations, Staff Picks with Shelf Talkers, Store Writing Contests where customers write about why and how a particular book changed their life. Also don’t be afraid to ask,“Do you think all of the books anthologized actually belong in this book?” Fun probing questions that will get your customers, thinking, reading and buying books.

Also, keep in mind that people like to buy books they've already purchased and enjoyed. This is safe. They buy favorites because they want them with different covers, or they want to share books with friends and family members, and books grouped together by theme or topic will remind customers of favorite title they may want a replacement copy of or to purchase as a gift.

Please let me know what your favorite lists are by leaving a comment below!
- Kate Ryan