14 Feb 2014

Top 100 Book Search Titles in 2013

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SEX sells

Anybody who buys used books gets regular spam emails from ABE, usually built around not-terribly-interesting book sale memes. The latest email, however, linked a feature on “the top 100 most searched for out-of-print books in 2013.”

The list is interesting, I thought, demonstrating substantial top end reader demand for the predictable and porny (Madonna), but also for canonical texts (the Harvard Classics), and for tales of glory (Jean Larteguy). The list also demonstrates that commercial publishers are prone to overlook demand in its less obvious manifestations.

One curiosity on the list is Number 33: Fly Fishing: Memories of Angling Days by J.R. Hartley. This was originally a purely imaginary book mentioned in a sentimental 1983 Yellow Pages commercial.

The popularity of the commercial inspired British writer Michael Russell to take “J.R. Hartley” as a pen-name, which he used to publish Fly Fishing, Memories of Angling Days in 1991. The book sold remarkably well, and Russell published two more volumes, another fly fishing book and a title in golf, writing as J.R. Hartley.


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