Mid-Year Review, Now Everyone’s Doing Them

Best of the year lists must be good for book sales. After doing a single annual list for many years, the Amazon Editors added a second, mid-year review of “Best Books so Far” a few years ago. As the Seattle Times writes in a a story about the Amazon Book Review and its editors, “The ultimate aim [of the best books lists], after all, is to sell books.” While the article also claims that the impact of the picks is hard to measure, there is at least one yardstick, whether the books rise on Amazon’s sales rankings (not to mention the multitude of metrics that Amazon’s tech gurus do not make public. You can’t help but feel the editors are very aware of how well their choices do).

The top title on this year’s midyear list, Top 20 Picks of the Best Books of the Year So Far, did indeed move up Amazon’s sales rankings. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren was in the 600’s, after hitting a high of #13 when it was released in April. The Amazon pick brought it back up in to the 200’s.

This year, several other publications, those with a less vested interest, have followed the trend of mid-year reviews, including Entertainment Weekly (best fiction and nonfiction, ranked lists of ten titles each), New York Magazine (ten titles) and Time (eighteen titles).

Many of these titles became best sellers, but the lists are helpful for discovering overlooked gems that could use a circulation boost.

Across the four lists, 51 separate titles got nods. No title made all four.

9781101874936_543cb  The Gene  9780812998603_dba8f

Three books are the clear consensus winners, selected by three of the four list makers:

  • The Gene: An Intimate History, Siddhartha Mukherjee (S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) (Amazon, Entertainment Weekly, Time)
  • The Girls by Emma Cline (PRH/Random House; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample). (Amazon, Entertainment Weekly’s #1 fiction pick, NY Magazine)

Eleven other titles made two of the four lists.

Amazon and Entertainment Weekly selected:

9780553447439_20f4e 9780393245448_edfdd 9780062277022_273d5 When Breath

Amazon and Time selected:

9780062200631_20c73  9780812993509_10bb2

Entertainment Weekly and Time selected:

9781101875940_773b1  9780553448184_7d89f

NY Magazine and Time selected:

9780525429630_90737  9781594634635_4748d

Many of these titles received media attention when they hit shelves and in the months following. For example, Lab Girl got a rave review from NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani and was the focus of a Slate “Audio Book Club” feature; The Girls was a #1 Indie Next selection and a top summer reading pick and is currently a best seller; and The Vegetarian won the Man Booker International award.

See our catalog for a running list of all mid-year picks. Links to each of the round-ups are in the column to the right (replacing the Summer Preview links).

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