It is an award that rewards authors both old and new, with an ability to catapult sales and (potentially) a career, and yet getting a spot on the list remains much more a subjective mystery than one might think. As opposed to what would be the more common, and prevalent, notion that the list is comprised of the highest selling books of that week, month, etc., the list is actually more subjective and handpicked than one would think.
Unlike lists that are based on sales data, The New York Times tends to have a more “curated” list for their readers, which brings on criticism in regards to how they choose the list and who they tend to leave off the list. In this day and age of large publishing, the question begets us further: are self-publishing authors and indie authors generally left off of the list?
Self-publishing does tend to not only label books differently, but also leave them out of sight, intentionally or not, of the bigger name critics and papers or lists. Though, in the case of some authors, when they can prove that his or her book has done better than others on the list, why would they still be left off? The answer tends to be obscure, and looks more like a favoritism towards established publishers.
Through e-books, self-publishing has become a bigger deal and has helped push authors into the reading public, however, they still have their downfalls. At the moment, the Amazon and Kindle Marketplace is one of the largest to be a part of, but at the price of distributing a book elsewhere, they are clinching that author to a contract that is much less negotiable than say those that are NY Times Bestsellers. All this leads towards a question that can be asked both of and larger than The NY Times: how can self-publishers retain the ability to have power in a world that is dominated by contracts, large publishing companies, and subjective lists and awards? While the authors struggle for a more “fair” recognition, readers too should be interested in this, for it is they that rely on these lists for books to read and keep in the know of, and if certain books are being left off that are of quality and worth, then they too should be concerned about how these lists are created.
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