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How many #1 bestsellers are there, really?

I was amazed at this statistic from Seth Godin:
“In the 260 weeks from 1966 to 1970, there were only thirteen musical acts responsible for every #1 album on the Billboard charts. In the 260 weeks that accounted for the first half of the 1970s, it was 26.”
Has anyone out there ever done a similar number for books? I’ll bet between Dan Brown and JK Rowling there’s not too many #1 bestselling authors over the last few years either.
Like Seth says, it’s crowded at the top. And it sure shows the importance of the long tail.

Posted on: October 14, 2009, 7:06 am Category: Uncategorized

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  1. This very issue is covered extensively in ‘The longer long tail : how endless choice is creating unlimited demand’, by Chris Anderson (ISBN: 9781847940360). The era of the best-seller will soon no longer exist, but the choice brought about by the long-tail effect is fantastic. I’m sure this will be exaggerated as ebooks become more popular too.

  2. According to Bob Frank, this phenomenon is getting worse. See
    Frank, Robert H.
    The winner-take-all society : how more and more Americans compete for ever fewer and bigger prizes, encouraging economic waste, income inequality, and an impoverished cultural life / Robert H. Frank, Philip J. Cook.
    Published: New York : Free Press, c1995.