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New York Times To Genre, YA, Comics Readers: You Suck

Well, this is some bullshit right here; from literary agent Charlie Olsen:

Graphic novels can no longer be @nytimes bestsellers as of February 5th. No explanation for change, I think we deserve one. Please RT!

Olsen was commenting on the edition of the New York Times Best Seller List that isn’t publicly available yet, as he gets early access. Here’s what it looks like today, dated 29 January 2017. Olsen indicated that there’s no presence for graphic novels, manga, and a slew of YA/genre fiction from the 5th forward.

I poked around the the NYTBSL site and found an email, and wrote to ask what the hell. Specifically, I wrote:

My name’s Gary Tyrrell. I write about webcomics and independent comics. One of the things I’ve followed closely and written about frequently has been the NYTBSL for graphic novels.

I hear today that the Times is discontinuing the lists for graphic novels and manga. Is this actually true?

And if so, will the books be treated as regular books in the appropriate category (MARCH, to name one, in nonfiction; Raina Telgemeier’s work in fiction or nonfiction as appropriate)?

If not, what is the rationale to decide that such a vibrant part of American publishing is no longer worthy of inclusion?

I got an autoreply that led me to believe I wouldn’t get a substantive response, but this morning there was an actual reply which reads as follows:

Hi, Gary –

Your query was forwarded to me. [Note: I’m not naming the person that wrote to me; she caught the question but undoubtedly is not responsible for the decision.]

It is true. Beginning February 5, The New York Times will eliminate a number of print but mostly online-only bestseller lists. In recent years, we introduced a number of new lists as an experiment, many of which are being discontinued.

We will continue to cover all genres of books in our news coverage (in print and online). The change allows us to devote more space and resources to our coverage beyond the bestseller lists.

Our major lists will remain, including: Top 15 Hardcover Fiction, Top 15 Hardcover Nonfiction, Top 15 Combined Print and E Fiction, Top 15 Combined Print and E Nonfiction, Top 10 Children’s Hardcover Picture Books, Top 10 Children’s Middle Grade Hardcover Chapter Books, Top 10 Children’s Young Adult Hardcover Chapter Books and Top 10 Children’s Series. Several more including Paperback Trade Fiction, Paperback Nonfiction, Business, Sports, Science and Advice Miscellaneous will remain online.

Readers will be notified that individual lists will no longer be compiled and updated by The New York Times on the relevant article pages.

Okay, props for all that info, but this is some straight-up nonsense right here. As I noted, comics are a dynamic and rapidly expanding part of American publishing; shall we note that Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts launched with an intial printing of half a friggin’ million copies? Show me one book on the surviving lists that has as large a print run and is still present 18 weeks later. Show me one book on the surviving lists that is as (justly) celebrated as MARCH.

Most importantly, show me one way for readers of books — not lit-er-uh-chooor, but goddamned books — that will see their favorites getting the attention and promotion and word-of-mouth that would result from being recognized on the BSL. The Times is selling out people that wait eagerly and devour a book over and over until the next one comes along, because you know what? Most YA and Middle Grade books aren’t hardcovers.

But at least they can focus on people that get the Book Of The Season and skim it so they can drop bon mots at the best parties. And the argument about having more room to discuss things by reducing lists is a complete crock since most of the dropped lists (including GN/manga) only appeared online where there’s no lack of space.

Well, let this bear witness, then — until whoever did make this decision removes the LitCrit stick from their ass, on the last week that the Times deigned to look at comics, Raina had five books listed on the Paperback Graphic Books list:

  • Ghosts (#1, 18 weeks)
  • Drama (#2, 179 weeks)
  • Smile (#3 240 weeks)
  • Sisters (#8, 117 weeks)
  • The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea (#10, 77 weeks)

Pretty sure that she had at least one book on the list every damn week that the list existed, with her four original works totaling five hundred and fifty-four weeks, or a bit more than ten and a half cumulative years. But no, nothing to see here.


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