Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What Ails Kenyan Literature (Part 7) - No Bestseller Lists

There used to be a Sunday Nation Best Seller List in the Sunday Nation newspaper that was a compilation of the bestselling fiction and non-fiction books from Nairobi’s leading bookstores. The bookstores included Bookpoint Ltd, Prestige Booksellers, The Book Villa, Suba Books and Periodicals, Shams Bookshop and Simply Books. The Sunday Nation Best Seller List has since been discontinued. Hopefully, the two major newspapers, the Daily Nation and The East African Standard will in future maintain bestseller lists.

Bestseller lists are as important as music charts in the recording business. Charts (and awards) help establish some standards and guide both readers and industry insiders. The New York Times Bestseller List, for example, has been guiding book buyers for years. If a certain author is always on the charts, or a certain book is at the top, it makes a potential book buyer curious about that particular author or that particular book.

With no charts, it becomes difficult for bookstores and book buyers to gauge which books to stock or which author is currently ‘hot’. It also makes it hard to analyze trends.