Sunday, June 11, 2006

So many book advertisements, and covers, bear the legend "New York Times bestseller", even with the name of the paper in the Gothic typeface used on front page, just so we're sure. It's as if appearing on the bestseller list (or lists, for there are several) somehow connotes approval of the book by America's highbrow newspaper of record, as if it were some kind of "15 best" list, akin to the top-ten lists compiled by many film critics at the end of the year, rather than the gross revenue figures released by the studios and distributors each week. Although some argue with the Times's counting methodology, bestseller status is basically an objective measure, not a subjective judgment. So why should we be impressed by the name "New York Times"? Or is it just that if it is going to claim bestseller status for one of its books, a publisher has to give an attribution, noting who says it's a bestseller?

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