Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Scamming The New York Times Bestseller List - And how The YA community stopped it.

Here's the story, in brief:

Last week, a book from a first-time publisher and debut author hit #1 on the New York Times YA bestseller list in it's debut week.

YA Author Phil Stamper and others questioned how that happened... How did a book that didn't have wide buzz suddenly sell 18,000 copies in one week, when the next book down on the list (The Hate U Give) sold 6,000 copies? So Phil and some others contacted bookstores... and found out that someone was calling bookstores, inquiring if those stores reported to the Times list, and then placing orders for 29 copies for an upcoming event. If the orders had been for 30 copies, the sale would have been flagged. They did it at enough stores, and they hit the list at #1...

But as the evidence of their gaming the system started piling up, it was only 8 hours later that the New York Times took the fake-bestseller off the list.

This piece by Jackson McHenry on vulture.com reveals some possible motivation -- both the author and the publisher are angling to make the fake-bestseller a movie franchise.

Here's a great run-down by agent Michael Bourret in Entertainment Weekly about what happened, with some context on how the Times Bestseller list works.

And if you want more, there's this piece in Publishers Weekly that oddly (to my mind) only places the onus on what happened on the author.

For all the challenges of social media, the increased scrutiny (and transparency) it creates is a good thing. As Phil tweeted, no one should be able to buy their way onto the New York Times bestseller list.

And this time, they didn't.

Illustrate and Write On,

No comments: