What makes a book a bestseller?

This is a question that has been bothering me since I was a bookseller taking the downloaded bestseller list from corporate and repositioning the books in the front window.

What made these books so special? Is it the author’s established name? Marketing of the book? Word of mouth?

Does it have to do with how the book is written? What type of words are used? What is the predominate sentence structure of a bestseller?

I’ve decided to make my new mission figuring out what makes a book a bestseller.

In preparation of this task, I looked over the New York Times Bestseller List for 12/25/2011.

I’ve picked five books in each book category; mass market, trade, and hardback books.

There is one thing I found interesting right off the bat.

I looked at the top twenty books in each category. Within the hardback best sellers, twenty percent of the books are written by females. With the trade paperbacks, fifty-five percent of the books are written by females. In mass market books, thirty-five percent of the books are written by females.

At this point, I can’t make any claims to why this is happening. Looking at one week isn’t enough to make any sort of observation. However, this is another aspect of the bestsellers list I want to explore.

Come journey with me as I explore the method to the madness of a bestseller list.