What Does #1 Actually Mean?

The press coverage of Obama Nation makes repeated references to the book debuting at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, but other lists show a different story.

On the Wall Street Journal nonfiction list, it is a distant second to The Last Lecture (which doesn’t appear on the Times nonfiction list because it’s categorized as “Hardcover Advice.” It’s at number one on that list).

The WSJ‘s sales index shows Obama Nation is selling at less than 1/3 the rate of The Last Lecture. Comparing it to the number one fiction title, Obama Nation is selling at a bit more than 10% the rate of Breaking Dawn.

The USA Today list shows all titles in one ranking, regardless of age level or category. On that list, Obama Nation is at #12 (it was at #25 last week), after the paperback of Debbie Macomber’s The Manning Brides.

The Amazon list is updated hourly and therefore responds quickly to media attention. On that list, Obama Nation rose from #10 two days ago to #1 today, above Breaking Dawn.

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