The May 3 release of the first Book Sense/NEBA Regional Bestseller List also marked the first time that a regional booksellers association has reached a critical mass of more than 50 reporting stores, the minimum number needed for ABA to generate a separate list. The information collected for the NEBA list comes from stores' regular weekly Book Sense reporting and is tabulated the same way: equal weight is given to each store, rather than the total number of books sold, contrary to most bestseller lists.
"We're delighted that NEBA is the first regional to have a critical mass of stores," ABA chief operating officer Oren Teicher told PW. "Nationally there are about 325 stores reporting to Book Sense. We hope that the other nine regions are close behind." Teicher explained that ABA plans to generate the data and transmit it within 48 hours to NEBA, which will in turn supply it to local booksellers and media.
"The list has been a long time a-coming," said NEBA executive director Rusty Drugan. "Members' reaction has been very enthusiastic. I'm expecting members to download this and take it to their newspapers and say, 'Use this; it's free.' " Drugan also noted that the reporting stores represent close to 25% of the region's eligible general bookstores that belong to both NEBA and ABA.
NEBA treasurer Linda Ramsdell, owner of the Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, Vt., personally called a number of booksellers in her state. "I think we could get even more stores," she told PW. "The Book Sense bestseller list is a great tool in selling books." She credited Karl Pohrt at Shaman Drum in Ann Arbor, Mich., for getting her to report initially. "I signed up to do Book Sense, and then I didn't follow through. When he called me up, I promised him I'd do it—and I did. I felt I needed to honor my commitment to another bookseller." Local booksellers were equally responsive to her calls.
Ramsdell found that the biggest barrier was that booksellers thought reporting would be more complicated and time-consuming than it is. In addition, many smaller stores weren't aware that their three-book bestseller is rated the same as another store's 300-book bestseller.
The new list will be posted each Thursday on NEBA's Web site: newenglandbooks.org.