Can we always consider a best-selling book to be a masterpiece?

1,841 Views Updated: 18 Apr 2018
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Can we always consider a best-selling book to be a masterpiece?

We see the words everywhere. From lining the bookstores to newspapers, from magazine headlines to the social media, the bestseller sticker really grabs public attention like nothing else.

The very word ‘bestseller’ rules over general masses like an overnight contagious disease. People are immediately struck by it and the urgency to read a best-selling novel multiplies by unthinkable figures. Even producers and film directors consider making adaptations. 

Nowadays, any publicity is considered good publicity. It has the power to make or break a work. The book receives a considerable amount of recognition and bam! Thousands of copies sold out on the first day. It is crucial, however, that we ask ourselves if being a best-seller is the only factor that determines the fate and longevity of a book’s literary quality.

So what is a bestseller? In layman’s terms, a bestseller or a best-selling book is a work that is sold in large quantities due to a massive demand. There isn't a definite number, but for it to make it to The Wall Street Journal's Bestseller list, there need to be at least 3,000 copies sold in the release week itself. The intense demand for obtaining the book clouds over the otherwise requirements of good content and quality, earning the author and in turn the publishing house an unprecedented profit and the chance to earn lifelong savings. 

On stating that demand supersedes quality we mean that with little need for good content and lesser for authenticity, people are now easily satisfied by books that cater to popular sensationalism. Authors are altogether discarding the original purposes of writing, creating, distributing something honest and are gradually moving towards a greater need for gaining higher revenue and prominence. 

In recent times, a book’s fate is being determined more by the tedious hours spent developing publicity and promotional tactics than on the actual written material. Authors are teaming up with well-known PR and advertising firms in an attempt to boost the sales of their books, creating attention seeking taglines, pre-release events and additional goodies. Popular writers are also finding ways into newspapers and television channels, promoting their new releases with a catchy interview or two. 

Having said that, we must remember that ours is the world that can still differentiate quality from quantity. Readers all around have the distinct ability to choose humble, engaging topics over a piece of money-making strategy in the name of a book. They can call it when they see it. True aficionados of art and literature, seekers of good writing will look for books that satisfy their inner quest for knowledge and eye-opening wisdom no matter what. They will opt for books without flashy, elaborate cover arts, zero hype and no popularity labels, if only it delivers likeability regarding content. No amount of publicity can cover up bad writing and an unflattering backstory.

It is important to realize that even when we strip a book of all its fanciness, the titles, the huge profits, it should still have the ability to stand tall on the sole strength of its content and readability. Let us ask then: is it guaranteed for the best selling book to be a good book? 

A good book decided on the grounds of containing a substantial amount of meaningful text and a strong author-reader relationship can become a bestseller. But in today’s time and age if it does not receive adequate promotion it might not be welcomed in the same way that a book with higher publicity will be. The latter supported by the influential crutches of popular demand will gain a higher popularity with immediate chances of becoming a bestseller.

It is possible that the number of copies sold somewhat defines the potential of a book, but it can in no way become the only, deciding factor. A good book should become a bestseller, but sadly in contemporary times, the reverse is not true. A bestselling author will for all future references be referred to as the above and thus attempt at living a life of literary superiority. But doesn't it all come down to one trivial fact? The fact that no matter how popular or otherwise, dedicated readers everywhere have certain abilities that allow them to be better judges of reading material. They can differentiate between a book that is meant to stay and a book that is written only to earn and until the day that this foundation collapses, our literature is in safe hands.

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