The New York Times Best-Sellers List
For most of us, this is the most widely recognized list, because a book being on this list is used as a marketing tool. Most hardcover fiction books that make the list will print "New York Times Best Seller" on the cover of the paperback version of the book. This is thought to catch the eye of the shopper and entice them to learn more about the book.
The Times list is created by compiling sales of books from independent, chain and wholesale stores (like Target and Walmart). The list is published weekly in The New York Times and posted on the paper's website at this link. The list is updated weekly, but the list you see before you is a result of sales tallied three weeks prior. Therefore, books sold over Mother's Day that were very popular, like Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul or some other mother-themed book's sales will be reflected on the published list three weeks from the Mother's Day week.
The Times has ten different best-sellers lists, and of those ten there are four lists that contain the sales figures of fiction books. Hardcover Fiction, Paperback Trade Fiction, Paperback Mass-Market Fiction, and Children's Books. An interesting fact about the Children's Book list is mentioned on Wikipedia, stating that "July 2000 a children's literature section was created; some publishers complained that the Harry Potter series wouldn't leave the top spots on the list and was not leaving enough room for their books". J.K. Rowling is one powerful author to have changed the face of The New York Times Best-Sellers List!
Many of my students asked what the difference was between paperback trade fiction and paperback mass-market fiction, and thankfully this question was answered by the store manager of Barnes and Noble during our class field trip. Trade fiction can be described as the paperback books that are larger and have clean white pages. Mass-market fiction books are the smaller, more compact paperbacks that use the darker, recycled paper for its pages. Bringing samples of each type of book can help students see the difference, so show them which book is trade fiction and which is mass-market. Many of my classroom sets of novels are mass-market fiction, so you should have plenty of examples in your room, too!