Since the New York Times added graphic novels to its bestseller lists several years ago, comics creators and publishers have had an additional chance for exposure; I was pleased to have made the softcover graphic novel list myself at one point. This Wednesday, however, publishing professionals who get peeks in advance began reporting that a number of cutbacks to several categories have taken place as of the Feb. 5 report — including elimination of the hardcover and softcover graphic novel lists and the manga list.
Following an early report, I communicated with a contact who receives an advance copy who noted there are further changes, including the elimination of the mass-market paperback charts and the merger of the e-book-only list with the fiction list. Other categories are reduced in size; the adult trade fiction list goes from 15 entries to 10, while the highest-profile list, the hardcovers, is cut from 20 entries to 15. It’s not the first time that list has been trimmed; it went from 25 entries to 20 in 2014. Other categories have also reportedly seen changes.
It’s unclear whether the advance versions reflect what the print and online versions will show later this week. The softcover graphic novel list, dominated in recent years by Raina Telgemeier, has always looked quite a bit different from the graphic novel lists from the Direct Market, as reported here at Comichron; but they were always a useful way of seeing what was going on in the book channel, in addition to good publicity for the works involved.
UPDATES: A reporter who covers comics for the newspaper reports that the comics lists are not in the advance digest “as part of some revisions.” I’ve reached out to see whether these will apply just to the advance version that publishing professionals receive, or the newspaper and website as well. In November, Deadline reported on changes to the arts sections of the paper; the books section is mentioned.
UPDATE 8:49 a.m. 1/26: Cindy from TimesDigest, the advance subscription service that provides the bestseller list early to publishing professionals, told Comichron “Please be advised that the Best Sellers List will be focusing on its core lists. These include the lists in this week’s advance BSL publication.” That suggests the lists are gone not just from the advance version, but also will not appear Friday online and this weekend’s print Books section.
LAST UPDATE for this post, 2:50 p.m. 1/26: ComicsBeat has gotten further comment here and here, in which an unnamed spokesperson for the Times cites that “the discontinued lists did not reach or resonate with many readers.”
While there’s no easy metric for this, Googling (in quotes) “New York Times Bestselling Graphic Novel” yields 12,500 results today, versus 191,000 for “New York Times Bestselling Novel.” The graphic novel figure is 240 times the number of results Google finds for the search as of five years ago today, when the list had been running for nearly three years. Comparing Google results across time is imperfect given how many 2012 pages may no longer be indexed, but usage of the term appears to have grown considerably.
Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 25 years, including a decade editing the industry’s retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises.
He is the author of novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, Star Trek: Discovery – The Enterprise War, and his latest release, Star Trek: Discovery – Die Standing. Read more about them at his fiction site.
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