Monday, March 7, 2011

An unexpected skill – predicting bestsellers

I read a lot, and like to read all I can about any new books which are being published. So I scour the weekend arts supplements in the newspapers to see if anything catches my eye.

To my surprise I find that I have developed a good sense of what will constitute a bestseller, well before most other people have even heard of the author, let alone the book or books that will set him/her on their way to fame.

I treasure the fact that I read the first books of the following best-selling authors at a time when nobody else had. All have made fortunes for their authors and their publishers.

Alexander McCall Smith:   No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Stieg Larsson:                    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
J K Rowling:                      Harry Potter and the Wizard’s Stone
Edmund de Waal:              The Hare with the Amber Eyes

I must admit that I gave up on the Larsson books two-third of the way through what I considered to be the rather heavy-going second book, though people tell me that the third book is the best, so I may try again.

I got 10 pages into the first Harry Potter, when I happened to pick it up in the children’s section of the library, before sadly putting it down again unread when I realised that it was not going to be the successor to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings that I had hoped for, far from it.

The de Waal is a magical book, beautifully crafted around a family’s netsuke collection as it finds its way from West to East and back again.  It has very illuminating insights into the cultures and world events its owners experience, and since these cover my own family’s background and experiences in pre-war Austria, it added some poignancy to what I already knew.

It seems that I might have a new career ferreting out the next bestseller for some publisher when my acupuncturist’s skills dim!

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