The New York Times drops its graphic novel best seller lists

Last week, the New York Times announced the surprising news that it plans on dropping its best seller graphic novel and manga lists. (Or “graphic books,” per the paper’s less-conventional term of choice.) The decision’s effective as of February 5. Also being dropped are mass market paperbacks, middle-grade ebooks, and teen ebooks lists. However, it’s the loss of the graphic novel and manga lists that’s getting the most attention online.

The Times first started running the lists in 2009. The reason given for the list-dropping is that the lists “did not reach or resonate with many readers.” Despite this, the paper promises to provide future comics coverage, as they stated on Twitter:

The Times also states they’ll continue to list graphic novels in the mainstream best seller lists.

Downsides of the New York Times’ decision

Online reactions to the Times’ decision are pretty negative, and for good reason. Having a novel (graphic or prose) on the New York Times’ best seller list is a strong selling point. Libraries could also use the list to figure out what graphic novels are particularly popular.

The best seller list also gave prominent credibility to the comics medium among the general public. That’s something that the industry’s struggled for years to gain. A newspaper like the New York Times (that doesn’t even run a comics page) seeing value in comics says a lot.

The idea the lists “did not […] resonate” seems at odds with prevailing sales trends of graphic novels, which have risen in recent years. They’ve also received a lot of attention recently; see John Lewis’ “March.”

The types of books on the best seller list also are a varied bunch. Women and minority authors often dominate the charts; Raina Telgemeier’s a major presence. They’re also from a variety of genres, versus the superhero-heavy Diamond sales charts.

It’s nice that graphic novels will still be listed in the main best seller lists. However, it’ll be harder for them to gain attention when up against popular prose novels.

Alternatives?

I do wonder what non-Diamond alternatives that leaves. I’ve been trying to list the New York Times’ best sellers along with the Diamond ones in my comics sales posts, for the sake of a broader view.

A Google search turns up Publishers Weekly’s own graphic novel list, but it seems less organized (based mainly on BookScan data/its organizing) than the Times’ lists. If anyone knows of any alternatives, please list them in the comments below.

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