NY Times to Drop Print, Clay Tablet Editions of eBook Best-Seller List

NYTimesThe NY Times Book Review announced last week that ebook best-seller list will now only be available online. It will no longer be published in the Sunday Book Review, nor will it be available by messenger pigeon. At the same time, the NY Times announced that they have discontinued delivery of the Best-Seller List by Western Union.

Here’s more from the announcement:

Readers of the Book Review will notice three changes instituted this week, two involving our best-seller lists. The e-book list has migrated online, the digital world being its natural habitat. Given the fluid variety of pricing in today’s marketplace, we have also stopped including cover prices on the lists.

Snark aside, I am surprised that any of the lists were still available in the newspaper.

Tell me, do you really think anyone is getting the Sunday Times any more so they can get a copy of the best seller list? I doubt it. The online list is too convenient. Some might have been buying it so they could frame a copy as a keepsake, but that’s about it.

They’re also dropping prices from the list, which makes sense given how often online prices change (even for print books). Then again, the list price for print books can sometimes be a useful data point, even if the books are always sold at a discount. A higher-priced book beating out a cheaper book shows that it succeeded in spite of the higher price.


Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. George20 May, 2013

    I might have to sue you for medical expenses because I busted a gut laughing when I saw clay tablet editions. 🙂

  2. Puzzled20 May, 2013

    How they got the NY Times down to a size that can be telegrammed by Western Union is a mystery to me…

    1. Nate Hoffelder20 May, 2013

      I’m told that the NYTimes was an early adopter of txtspk. In fact, I think they invented it.

  3. KarlB20 May, 2013

    I don’t get the reasoning behind this at all. Do they think that if you’re reading the paper NYT, it follows that you’re only interested in the best-seller lists for paper books? By extension, since the paper NYT doesn’t come with hard covers, they shouldn’t be printing the hardcover best-seller lists in there either.

  4. Angela Booth21 May, 2013

    I love your headline too — clay tablets. Wish I’d thought of it, and glad I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read it. 🙂

    Re ebook prices; prices are bouncing around. There’s not much point in publishing them. It would just enrage NYT readers.

  5. Becki21 May, 2013

    I don’t know about other people buying the Sunday NYT for the Book Review section and Bestseller Lists, but public libraries still need those lists. We copy the lists every week and highlight the books in our collection, because we always have people coming in wanting to know which ones we have.

    Those clay tablets were a real pain to store, though, so I’m glad they stopped that version. 🙂

    1. kitsune21 May, 2013

      It does seem like a peculiar thing to do. Do they think people who read the Times in paper therefore don’t care about ebooks? Anyway, Becki, you can always go online and print out the bestseller list. I think you can get 10 free articles a month from their website, so you’d just have to budget a few of those for the lists. Or let me know if you need it; I subscribe to the NY Times online, and I’d be happy to email it to you!

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