First 'Best Read' List Tracks What Americans are Really Reading

Library Journal is giving new meaning to the term “best seller,” with its launch of the first ever LJ Best Sellers List -- the books most borrowed in U.S. libraries. This authoritative list, launched on June 1st, will run in each semimonthly issue of Library Journal.

"It's never been done before, despite obviously being a more accurate way to measure demand for both fiction and nonfiction books that people actually want to read," according to Francine Fialkoff, Editor of the 128-year-old Library Journal.

Since many readers normally borrow library books, such a list provides invaluable information about what a large segment of the population is actually reading, contrasted with the purchasing habits of book buyers, she points out.

Fialkoff notes that a comparison of current Best Sellers lists versus the Library Journal list shows that "there, indeed, is a remarkable difference between the books people are buying and the books they are borrowing from libraries."

The first Library Journal list appeared in its June 1 print and online editions. Future lists will provide each book's previous ranking as well as the number of times the title has been on the list.

The magazine does not intend its new "best read" list to replace best sellers lists. "Rather, our intention is to create a better understanding of what people are reading and what they want to read. After all, 65 percent of Americans use the nation's 16,000 public libraries and those libraries buy upwards of $2 billion worth of books each year," says Fialkoff. "This makes libraries a very important market for publishers."

Library Journal compiles its new list using data supplied by a cross section of public libraries in urban, suburban, and rural areas nationwide and from cooperating vendors. Fialkoff says that plans are afoot to "add value" to the list and that in the future Library Journal will provide extended lists and breakdowns by region, population, and genre.