Updated: Feb 21
Ignore Bestseller Lists
Think about how the data is compiled to start with. Is the bestseller list incorporating sales data from the bookshops you and I buy from? Does the data include the books you buy? Who compiles the data? This does not mean the data is inaccurate, but it is certainly incomplete. We could not even begin to estimate which populations and sales are not included and what proportion those make of the total. This consideration is only to show that the list that is published only reflects what went into the list in the first place. Remember that the members of the guild of actors choose the best film ! One can keep an eye on that list but still maintain their own list from own sources available widely on the net.
Ignore Author Popularity in the Media
In many ways the media lists are not different from the bestseller lists. Journalists receive a dozen books a week if not more. This results in herding. And as a group, media follows what everyone is writing about just as individuals do in any gathering. There are some excellent book reviewers out there who do not take a fee, and read only works they appreciate. Occasionally, the law of numbers bears out, with the book being touted everywhere suiting your tastes. The rest of the time, it is just marketing ! Choose a book you like and think you are interested in reading, and not because Banksy "said" about this artist or that artist.
Ignore the Newly Priced Hardback and Search for Second hand Paperbacks
Prices can be one of the most frustrating attributes to choosing a book. For example, books by African authors, especially anything written in the 1960s and before, will not be available for less than the price of four or five books compared to the price of books from other parts of the world. With publishing costs reasonably low, there appears to be gatekeeping. This is not the world of rare books but one finds them priced in the same category and treated as such. Luckily, digital copies are available online for those with expired copyrights. Re-issuing some of these books at the standard paperback price should be a priority.