On Thursday, Book Twitter — the part of Twitter where publishers, authors, readers, and journalists discuss the industry and its literature — inspired the New York Times to revise its upcoming best-seller list. If you didn’t happen to be following along all day, you were probably confused, especially since each new fact that emerged was more astounding than the last. Here’s what happened.
When the Times released its young-adult best-seller list for the week of Sep. 3, it came as a huge surprise. Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, a story about a young black girl whose friend is killed by the police, had been on the list for 25 weeks — but was knocked out of the top spot by a newcomer: Handbook for Mortals, by Lani Sarem. The problem, as Pajiba first reported, was that no one had ever heard of this book.
YA author Phil Stamper was one of the first to point out on Twitter that the placement would mean a book that’s out of stock on Amazon had somehow sold about 5,000 copies in its first week (authors agree that’s about the number a book needs to sell to crack the list). On top of that, Handbook for Mortals was the debut novel from both its author and its publisher, GeekNation. Originally established as a pop culture website in 2012, GeekNation only launched its book publishing arm in July. Something smelled fishy, and it only got weirder from there.