Sunday 7 September 2008

Addicted to the Bestseller Charts

It’s time to confess; I have become as addicted to the bestseller book charts as I am to wine, caffeine and emails; desperate all the time for a new fix, even though I know it will inevitably lead to another painful come-down.

I can completely understand why ego-crazed pop stars are driven tantrum mad when some giant selling track from a rival act squats at the top of the charts for months on end, forever depriving them of the ultimate glory they believe to be their right. To be number two or three is great, of course, but to be able to label your book merely “a Sunday Times bestseller” is never going to be the same as being “a number one bestseller”.

So many times I have ghosted a potential chart topper, only to be held off the top spot by the mega-selling likes of Jeremy Clarkson, Bill Bryson, Richard Hammond or Russell Brand, (the literary equivalents of the Beatles, Whitney Houston, Bryan Adams and Ken Dodd).

I know my addiction is illogical, that a book which sells a thousand copies a week for twenty years is an infinitely better earner than one that surges out of the starting gate with a ten thousand sale in the first week and has completely petered out by the end of the year. I know it because I have had those too, but I am still addicted to the adrenalin rush of the quick number one surge. The pleasures and rewards of sensible moderation are subtler and require a degree of patience that I am having increasing difficulty in mastering as the addiction takes hold.

Time to seek help, I think.

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