For a portion of my research, I will be researching which books are the most popular by examining a few different examples in the current best sellers list (provided by Nielsen BookScan). Hopefully, this will show me exactly what type of writing is most popular at time of writing. The current best seller, at the very top of the list, is “The White Queen” by Philippa Gregory. It is a historical thriller, described as: “The tale of one woman’s ambitious ascent to royalty during the Wars of the Roses and the unsolved mystery around her sons’ imprisonment in the Tower”.
This would probably relate more to a female readership, due to the nature of the story. Philippa Gregory is an established author well known for her love of history (and consequentially her historical accuracy in her works), the complex relationships in her writing and her charity work. With this in mind, it is more than likely that she will already have a large fan base to buy this book upon its release. With the recommended retail price set at a rather standard i?? 18. 99 for a hardback, it is clearly still one of the more expensive books in the best sellers list.
However, it more than likely ranks highly because of its appeal across demographics. For example, this book could appeal to fans of previous books, fans of historical fiction and those interested in history in general. I would assume however, that the book would be more aimed at escapism and entertainment than education and informing. But considering the nature of this genre, I think it is also safe to say that the work would be historically accurate in all aspects, and could be educational that way. The book is published by Simon & Schuster Ltd, founded in 1924, who publish a great deal of different genres and styles.
Historical fiction is prominent amongst them, as well as graphic novels, thrillers, sci-fi and crime novels. They also publish an all manner of non-fiction and children’s books. At number 3 on the list is Katie Price’s “Sapphire” Described as the “Latest glitzy novel from the phenomenon that is Katie Price, incorporating the celebrity world of parties and tabloid headlines she knows so well”. However, this novel isn’t actually written by Katie Price. It was ghost-written. Ghost writing is a way to get work published if you don’t mind it being under someone else’s different name.
Although it will not result in the critical acclaim that some authors enjoy, the attention a name like Katie Price gathers would more than likely earn the title a lot of revenue. Although some people have their novels and autobiographies ghost written and never let the cat out of the bag, Katie Price has openly admitted to not writing any of her own books. However, this does not result in a loss of readership in this case, partly because she has at least some small amount of input into the book, and partly because the content remains of the same quality regardless.
Katie Price herself came to fame as a glamour model, and has since delved into different areas; books, perfumes, endorsements, television shows, etc. This is her latest book, and sizing up to be the most successful having stayed in the best sellers list for 4 weeks in a row so far. This book may also appeal to people more than the best seller because of the price- i?? 12. 99- being a full i?? 6 cheaper, and being less expensive than most books on the whole list. And being aimed most typically at teenage girls to young women, I think the story, the price and the name would all appeal to this target audience.
The book would also appeal to those who are interested in celebrity culture and scandal. As the book is aptly described, the author does have a keen insight into that world, and so too would those who read the publications she was in (Heat, OK, etc). In fact, as the trend of celeb, paparazzi and gossip grows, so too will the book’s popularity. The book itself is published by Arrow Books Ltd, strangely not the publisher listed on the listing itself for any of its publications.
Arrow Books seem to specialise in different types of fiction, having published “A Week In December” by Sebastian Faulks and “206 Bones” by Kathy Reichs as well, and in picking up any author (well known or otherwise) and giving them a contract. The last example from the list is “Bloodline” by Mark Billingham. A gritty thriller akin to his previous books of murder and corruption, Bloodline is a story about an obsessed serial killer. The magnitude of this author’s reputation is shown by the fact that all of Billingham’s previous works were also in the top 10 best sellers when they came out.
Mark Billingham is well known for creating gripping narratives and memorable characters. Many reviews state repeatedly how he manages to add a sense of depth and dimension that is sought after in crime-fiction. However, he is also known for his stand-up comedy and his writing for T. V. He is also writing a series of children’s books under the pseudonym Will Peterson. The price is i?? 16. 99, which I found to be the standard price for a crime-fiction hardback. I would guess that this is because it not only makes it slightly cheaper than the competition; it also makes it seem much more accessible.
This increased appeal is essential to the sales of the novel. The genre is certainly a popular one, but because of the sheer amount of books contained in it, the blurbs can seem increasingly repetitive. For example, the blurb of this book seems like it the story has been told again and again- obsessive cop tracks down crazy serial killer with hidden agenda. However, the advantage this book has is that it is part of an award winning series, the first book of which came out 8 years ago. So as an established series, the readership continually increases over time.
According to the author himself from his official website, the book is purely escapist and with minimal research done. Although he did some research (i. e. street names), he focused mainly on the entertainment value and gripping narrative. These qualities make the novel stand out as a more entertaining read than most others. The book is published by Little Brown Book Group, a publisher with a respected standing in all areas of distribution. Their publishing divisions are split into 3 main groups: Literary, Commercial publications and Science-fiction/ Fantasy.
The fact that Sci-fi and Fantasy, as genres, have their own publication division devoted to only those sections of fiction, shows that the Little Brown Book Group lean more towards publishing these works than most others. A notable part of this is Virago, which publishes books written only by women. Founded in 1973, it was specifically to showcase feminism and equal rights to women. “Bloodline” is currently published under the hardback fiction part of the Little Brown division, and will subsequently be fed into the Abacus paperback part of the organisation.