ionR: What does “Bestseller” mean to you?

Posted January 10th, 2014 by in Blog, Features, ionR / 24 comments


What does “Bestseller” mean to you?

Well, we all know what the term “Bestseller” should mean – and it usually does. It represents something that has made more sales than other things of it’s kind through a certain medium. In this case, I’ll be talking about books. (not a shock, I know).

What I’m really going to discuss is how the word “Bestseller” is used to market a book to consumers. I took a very small survey (30 participants) in order to get a feel for how a few folks thought about this issue. Here are the results. It is by no means scientific, but it’s enough to get a discussion going.  🙂





So now that my tiny little survey results have been shared, I’m going to give my opinion.

I think 10 years ago, the term “Bestseller” meant a lot more than it means today. I don’t think it’s a lie – I just think there are too many mediums on which you can sell a book, so the market is very watered down. Being in the top 100 list on The New York Times or Amazon is still a major accomplishment, and something to be proud of. However, the factors with which they measure that success are different now.

Amazon has books they promote as ‘Deals of the Day’, which discount books and boost their sales, and many ebooks are free or under $1, which makes them easier to purchase than a book which costs, say $6.99. Again, I’m not saying the achievement means nothing, but it may not be the best way to judge the quality of a book.

So what do you think? Does seeing “Bestseller” in the description or on the cover make you take a closer look? Post a comment below and let us know you think.  



24 Responses to “ionR: What does “Bestseller” mean to you?”

  1. Christina G (@MsChris1161)

    I completely ignore the Bestseller label. I have found tastes don’t always run with the crowd and so I go with my own instincts rather than media hype and advertising. I decide by reading the synopsis first, if that interest me then I move on to reader reviews. I may also seek out a book that’s been rated highly from a review blog site if I have come to see that their taste in reading material is similar to mine. If the book is from an author I’ve read and liked that helps, but I am just as likely to choose a book from an author I’ve never read before. I’ve been pleasantly surprised many times. I have also been very disappointed by books that were lauded by bloggers and other reviewers. For example, there is a popular author who has about ten books published, most if not all are listed as “bestsellers”, and gets great reviews from bloggers and such. I picked up one of her books (great synopsis) and didn’t care for it. I found too much unfinished points made in her plot, poor character definition, and frankly I considered her writing style very unpolished, if you will. I was really disappointed. But then another of her books was being pushed by bloggers I followed and generally trusted their reviews. The synopsis sounded interesting so I tried again. My opinion was the same. Obviously it was me and not her. I wish her well, but I will never read another book of by this popular author. Just another example of my tastes being individual rather than peer induced.

    • Klindsay

      I’m very similar to you in that way. I can think of a few authors that get lauded by bloggers/peers that I don’t care for – but I’m fairly certain it’s just my personal taste. And one of them is a bestselling author.

      I’m super glad you took the time to comment! Nicely thought out and very helpful!

  2. Leanna

    I would say that a book author being a bestselling author does not have an impact on what books I buy. If I am looking for a new author I am more likely to look at blog reviews and/or Amazon reviews.

    • Klindsay

      Reviews are important to me as well. Although people tend to hide behind the internet – so that’s suspect at times as well. I try to look at *all* the reviews, and if there are only a couple, I might wait for more.

  3. infinitieh

    Too bad no one asked me: I buy a book solely for the cover (got to have something interesting to look at once I’ve done reading). On the other hand, I do have access to a really good public library system that does order romance novels for their collection if requested by the patrons.

    • Klindsay

      I love this! The cover is definitely something I take into account. It’s not the deciding factor though.

  4. Connie Fischer

    Absolutely not. What does bestseller really mean? Yes, there are authors whose books are auto-buys for many readers, but I don’t necessarily go for that. There are so many magnificent authors out there just waiting for readers to discover them. It will take many “discoveries” for them to get the recognition that will bring success to them. This is one reason I love to promote authors by giving them reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and our blog. In addition, nice comments on Facebook and Twitter add a whole lot. Some authors simply more money and “clout” than others to get out and advertise themselves which helps in putting them in that “bestseller” arena. For myself, I don’t need someone to tell me who I should read or not. I’ll make that decision.

    • Klindsay

      Awesome! Reviews are so important – especially by non-bloggers. And I can’t discount the value of social media either. Great points!

  5. Donna Fasano

    I take in the whole package before I buy. The first thing I see, of course, is the cover. It has to appeal to me. If the words Bestselling Author are on the cover, that means something to me. Next, I read the book blurb/description to see if the plot contains characters and themes that I enjoy. If I like everything I see, I usually buy. I do read reviews, but a review is merely one person’s opinion. I like to form my own opinion. 🙂

    • Klindsay

      Hey Donna! I gotta say, your name jumps out at me when I look for books. 😉

      But yeah, I agree. I like to take in the whole package. Although sometimes the bestselling thing might be dodgy.

  6. belindaegreen

    The cover catches my attention, the excerpts/blurb hooks me. I make up my own mine whether to read/purchase the book. Reviews don’t sway me that much. I agree with you in that I have seen a lot of great reviews about a book I didn’t care for. The bestseller on the cover shows a certain achievement but not what’s in the book, only that a whole lot of people bought it.

    • Klindsay

      Amen Belinda! I gotta admit, even one spelling or grammatical error in the blurb/summary turns me off. And a bad cover will sometimes make me cringe. But if the cover is weird and the summary is intriguing, I’ll most likely give it a shot.

      Nice comment!

  7. Wendy S. Marcus

    Excellent post! Seeing Bestselling Author no longer means anything to me. Seeing USA Today or New York Times Bestseller carries a little more weight with me. I usually buy books from authors I know and love first. Then from recommendations from book review sites such as this one and reviews from my friends on Goodreads. A cover will attract my attention, but I agree that it’s the blurb that gets me to buy the book.

    • Klindsay

      Hey Wendy! Yep, that seems to be the prevailing opinion. It’s actually nice to see that people are thinking for themselves, right?

  8. Chanpreet

    For someone who is q visual person, it’s the blurb that decides whether or not I want to read a book.

    Bestsellers are nice and they might make me wonder what the hype is all about, but that word means nothing if I’m not interested in reading the book.

    • Klindsay

      So “Bestseller” might be intriguing, but the book has to speak for itself. Great post!

  9. cmdrsue

    If I could figure out why I buy books, and better yet why I like them, I’d be ahead of the game. The cover is sort of the “first impression” but I’m old enough to know that what the cover promises may have nothing to do with what the book will really be like. Much like Christina, I find the “bestseller” label to be nominal in value because my taste doesn’t necessarily run with the crowd. Descriptions can be intriguing and will prompt me to download a sample chapter. The only guarantee for me buying a book is liking the author and that is hard to keep track of (I read… a lot). Second best is recommendation from someone I know. Third best is I-desperately-need-something-to-read-right-now-and-this-is-the-first-thing-I-saw, usually meaning something recommended by Amazon on my Kindle app.

    • Klindsay

      For me, Amazon recs are hit-or-miss. Sometimes they rec based on the title alone. 🙂

  10. marcyshuler

    Seeing “Bestseller” on a cover doesn’t influence which books I purchase. I check the blurb and go to the author’s website to check out an excerpt, especially if it’s a new-to-me author.

    When I see something about (for example) a ‘bestselling Amazon author’ and I’ve never even heard of them, I personally think it might be because one of their books was a free selection at some point. *shrug*

    • Klindsay

      That’s the same thought I have. That perhaps it was a promotional Free/99 cent book at release. But I’ll still check it out. I’ve been pleasantly surprised more often than not. But when I’m let down, I’m REALLY let down.

  11. Taryn Elliott

    As an author this was really interesting to read. The almighty Bestseller label is still king for book covers. (NY and USA Today moreso than just a bestseller notice-some people think that if they’re top 5 of an obscure line that makes it okay to use bestseller. WTF? LOL)

    As a reader, I still gotta go with cover. It’s the first thing that draws me in. I do have a graphic design background though, so there is that. I am probably a little biased. But it’s the blurb that gets me every single time.

    I’m not quite the auto buy person these days. I’ve been burned too many times, but I do add a helluva lot of samples to my kindle. When i read the sample and get to the end and HAVE to know what’s going on, it’s a good sign I’ll enjoy the book. But I still usually let it sit for a day. If I’m still thinking about the book then I’ll usually go back and buy it. With the schedule I keep writing, my time is precious. So the book’s gotta be special.

    • Klindsay

      Okay, first of all, squee! Now that I’m done with that… I’m glad to see authors’ takes on this. I was a graphic artist, so I roll my eyes a lot at covers, and sometimes (to my shame) I pass over a book before reading the synopsis if the cover is bad.

      I definitely feel ya on the time thing. I’ve been “retired” since before I turned 40, but in the last two years I’ve become busier than when I had a career. My TBR pile grows, so I tend to be more discerning in my leisure stuff.

      Thanks for reading and commenting Taryn! (btw, dying for the next Oblivion book)

  12. bn100

    I ignore it. Also don’t like cover quotes by “famous” authors or descriptions that the book is just like a “bestseller”; they don’t mean anything to me. Buy/read the book based on the blurb and sometimes reviews (authors don’t always mention if there’s cheating or cliffhangers)

    • Klindsay

      oooh yea, definitely reviews. Cheating is a big no-no for me. Sometimes I don’t mind a cliffhanger if I know going in, but that’s on a case-by-case basis. But I get it – I like to see what the consensus is from readers.