The Dark Side of the New York Times Bestseller Book List

Ryan Eidson  —  May 5, 2014

Did you know there was a dark side to the New York Times bestseller book list?

bestseller book list

“The New York Times” | image source flickr user: Alec Perkins | cc

By “dark side” I mean: if you have enough money, you can manipulate the list.

The Dark Side to Bestselling Book Lists

There are people who’ve bought their way into getting a #1 bestselling book.  Yikes!

In my previous article I shared how it is possible for an author to get on the Times bestseller book list, if he/she chooses to go for it.

But I also wanted to warn you that there are people who buy their way to bestseller status. Here’s an article from Forbes that explains how this works.

This raises the question:

What does it really mean to be a “bestselling author” today?

Does it really mean as much anymore?

I mean, anyone with a big enough email list can get just a few dozen people to all buy their book on Amazon during the same hour, and that book goes to the top of the charts in its category.

There’s lots of marketers who do this with their books on Amazon. And then they say they are a “bestselling” author.

Bestselling of what, though?

Just because you sold 25 books in one hour in your underwater basket weaving sub-category on Amazon doesn’t mean that your book has longevity. Big whoop. Any experienced marketer can drive traffic to something for a short amount of time.

Now, show me longevity of bestsellers, those who are constantly doing well in the marketplace, and you’ll see some quality content with sales driven by word-of-mouth.

Share your view in the comments below.

Mark my word: When I hit any bestseller lists with my books, it will happen because people actually like what I have to say. It won’t be because I bought my way into the list.


Ryan Eidson


I have the unique ability to make complex ideas easy to understand. I am the author of A Couple with Common Cents and live in rural Missouri.