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Friday, August 1, 2008

Are bestsellers not as bestselling as they used to be?

Sales at Simon & Schuster for the second quarter are reported at $186 million, down 7 percent from a year ago. It's the third straight quarterly decline for the publishing unit and once again the statement says that "bestselling titles...did not match contributions from prior year titles."

This is quite a statement from a publisher that led the world in giving huge advances to authors who were reckoned to be guaranteed bestsellers (think Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark) -- a ploy which many said was to the detriment of midlist authors.

By contrast, sales at romance specialist Harlequin are up 3.5% to $119 million.

One is tempted to grin and ask if this says something about the midlist reader.

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