USA Today resumes its bestseller list for books after monthslong hiatus

FILE - Sections of a USA Today newspaper are displayed Aug. 5, 2019, in Norwood, Mass. Journalists across the U.S. will walk off their jobs next week at publications owned by Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the U.S. The mostly one-day strike, which will start Monday, June 5, 2023, aims to protest the companys leadership and cost-cutting measures imposed since its 2019 merger with GateHouse Media. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) (Steven Senne, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

NEW YORK – USA Today's weekly list of bestselling books, a publishing fixture that had been on hiatus since December, returned Wednesday.

"We couldn’t be more thrilled because this content is important to our vast audience and uniquely supports the communities we serve,” Kristin Roberts, Gannett Media's chief content officer, said in a statement.

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Gannett had not run the list since Mary Cadden, the longtime compiler, was among hundreds laid off late last year. According to Erik Bursch, senior vice president for product and engineering, the logging of sales figures — entered manually by Cadden — has been automated. The list otherwise will be managed by the paper’s books editor, Barbara VanDenburgh.

The publishing industry has long valued the USA Today rankings as a comprehensive, data-focused way of measuring the consumer market. The list, which began in 1993 and includes the top 150 books, is “based exclusively on sales analysis from U.S. booksellers including bookstore chains, independent bookstores, mass merchandisers and online retailers.” Unlike The New York Times and other lists, USA Today does not have separate categories for hardcovers, paperbacks, audio books and e-books, instead combining them all, no matter the genre or release date.

The top seller on Wednesday's list was Elin Hilderbrand's latest beach read, “The Five-Star Weekend”; followed by Bonnie Garmus' popular debut novel “Lessons in Chemistry” and Ali Hazelwood's comic romance “Love, Theoretically.” Others included range from such perennials as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to Paul McCartney's photography book “1964,” David Sedaris' “Happy-Go-Lucky” and “Blood Meridian,” the acclaimed novel by Cormac McCarthy, who died earlier this month.

Along with sales rankings, VanDenburgh says, USA Today will include feature stories on independent sellers from around the country and recommendations from independent store owners. The restored list is a partnership with the American Booksellers Association, the trade group for independent stores;, an online retailer which shares revenue with independent sellers, and The Novel Neighbor bookstore in St. Louis.

“ABA is excited about this partnership with USA Today and the opportunity to spread the word about the value of independent bookstores to communities and to readers,” Allison K. Hill, CEO of the booksellers association, said in a statement.

The revival of the USA Today list follows news from last week that Bookforum, an online literary magazine that closed around the same time that Cadden departed, will return in August in partnership with the liberal weekly The Nation. Penske Media Corporation had shut down Bookforum in December, shortly after acquiring its sister publication, Artforum.

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