Last week’s inauguration of a “graphic books” best seller list from the august New York Times drew much response, naturally. ICv2 answered the burning, itching question of why “graphic books,” when men commonly call them comics:

We asked the Times why it’s calling the books its ranking “graphic books,” rather than “graphic novels,” and heard back from Bestseller List Editor Deborah Hofmann. “We decided to call these Graphic Books in order to begin our endeavor with the elbow room to evolve,” she said. There are graphic memoirs, graphic diaries, nonfiction as well as fiction — and legions of new forms of this collaborative media that combine art with text. “We felt that Books made it clear to readers that our intent is to be inclusive and expansive. These rankings will grow, as we see more of the sorts of migrations you described at the [ICv2 Conference] — adaptations from other name brand bestselling authors, and so forth. Sci-Fi, Romance, procedurals, and many others, over time.

SLJ’s Good Comics for Kids blog has a roundtable discussion on What It Means:

Robin Brenner:

I’m now curious to see how this affects what I see in the library. Are my patrons going to be coming in and requesting MPD-Psycho in droves, as they do with the other bestsellers lists? If that doesn’t happen right away, how long will it take to start happening?

Anticipation that the phrase “New York Times Best Seller!” will be a selling point was echoed in a Marvel press release.

Brigid Alverson reflects some of the surprise at the first listings:

The real head-scratcher, though, is the two books that aren’t Naruto: vol. 8 of MPD-Psycho and vol. 11 of Eden. Both books carry an 18+ rating and come shrink-wrapped, which means that bookstores are less likely to carry them and the potential audience is somewhat limited. The direct market is the logical home for these books, but according to Diamond’s numbers, the last volume of MPD-Psycho, which was released in mid-December, sold fewer than 2,000 copies through them. The last volume of Eden didn’t chart at all in May or June 2008, which means it must have sold fewer than about 1,100 copies. Even Nana does better than that, and we all know the DM is a boys’ club. By contrast, volumes of Naruto sell in the 5,000-copy range in the direct market and probably do much better in chain bookstores (BookScan doesn’t make public the number of copies sold, so it’s hard to tell).

But perhaps the happiest reaction to the new lists was a Twitter from DC editor Jann Jones, fiancée of STARMAN’s James Robinson:

Who has two thumbs and is engaged to a NYT best selling writer? This gal….


  1. The thing to keep in mind on the NYT Graphic Books list is that it’s a WEEKLY survey. Which means two things: First up, anything that’s first published in a given week is likely to chart high. And second, it probably doesn’t take a lot of units to get on the list.

  2. The only reason I paid attention to the NYT Bestseller lists when I worked in public libraries was so I’d be aware of the books people would request; I read very few books that appear on those lists. Now, with the Graphic Books lists, I tend to read most – if not all – of them. However, again, I’ll be paying attention only to know what is currently selling the most for the week. It doesn’t necessarily reflect quality …

  3. Thanks for the information, but can you be a bit more descriptive? I work for a similar company and can’t find the exact solution. If possible can you email me? Or let me know when you have updated your post. thx in advance! Mike

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