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Pte 70 Score Essay on What Qualities, in Your Opinion, make a book a “Best Seller”?

What Qualities, in Your Opinion, make a book a “Best Seller”?

A ‘best seller’ is a book whose copies are sold in thousands. There is an inner urge in the reading public to buy such a book.

The general reading public are normally averse to spending money on books. As a result, most of the books just gather dust in the shelves; they do not sell at all unless the sales are pushed up through advertisements and other forms of media publicity. But there are exceptions; those exceptions sell like hot cakes as soon as they are published and continue to sell for years to come. The question is: Why do these books, just a. few in number, sell well?

The Bible is one of those books that are sold in large numbers. What is the reason for the Bible to be a best seller? The Bible is sacred to the Christians, and there are many Christians in the world; every Christian home will generally have a copy of the Bible. The Bible tells the story of the Jews, and of the birth and death of Christ, the Saviour. Besides, the Bible contains holy teachings which, though more honoured in the breach than in the observance thereof, are sacred to the Christians. If the reason for the abundant sale of the Bible indicates anything, it is this: a book whose content is sacred to thousands and thousands of people becomes ipso facto a best seller. If the religious character of a book boosts up its sales, it may so happen that the non-religious, blasphemous character of a book also can increase its sales. We have the ‘classic example of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.

To the devout Muslims The Satanic Verses is an irreligious book written with the obvious intention of attacking Islam and its founder Prophet Mohammed. The devout Muslims raised a hue and cry against the book and its author; the book, they say, is for burning.

A top religious leader made a call for the `liquidation’ of the author of the book. All this arouses the curiosity of the reading public; everyone who hears about the book desires to have a copy. The book becomes a best seller. It is the controversial nature of the book that makes it a best seller. It is not religion alone that makes a book controversial; political commitments, socio-political compulsions and prejudice and perceptions arising from loyalties to one political system or the other also do. For example, Pastermack’s Dr. Zhivago and Alexander Solzhenitayn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan

Denisovitch gained popularity enough in the West to become best sellers because of the controversial nature of the books and of the implicit criticism of Stalinist Russia contained in them. In other words, the controversy generated by the novels was primarily responsible for the sale of the books soon after they were published. The international recognition won by the books also accounted for their popularity.

In order that a book should be a best seller it should be able to attract the attention of the people. We have seen that the controversial — religious, political, or socio-political — character of a book may make it a best seller. But more than this, it is the uniqueness of a book that makes it popular, and therefore, best-selling. The uniqueness of a book arises from the originality of its theme and treatment. Saul Bellow’s Herzog and Mr. Samler’s Planet can be cited as examples. Perhaps it is the uniqueness of Gitanjali that not only earned Rabindranath Tagore his Nobel Prize for Literature but also made the book a best seller. It is the uniqueness of a book that makes it a classic, that makes it universally appealing. Homer’s Odyssey, Shakespeare’s plays, especially his tragedies, and Tolstoy’s novels like Anna Karenina and War and Peace are examples of world classics that continue to be best sellers. Other qualities associated with a book that is a best seller are its sensational nature and the strident note of social protest inherent in its theme. Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead — a war novel —, James Baldwin’s Another Country, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Alan Paton’s Cry, The Beloved Country are examples.

Another quality which appeals to the ordinary reader is the psychology of sex dealt with in a book; perhaps it is this quality that makes the books of Harold Robins, Ayn Rand, etc. best sellers. Nabakov’s Lolita became a hot cake because of the overdose of sex in it. This is again the reason why Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover became a best seller once copies became-freely available. There is no one single quality that makes a book a best seller. But no book can be a best seller unless it attracts public attention.

A book catches the eye of the reading public because of its uniqueness, its distinctiveness, arising from its theme as well as treatment. Joyce’s Ulysses, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, etc. attracted the attention of the reading public because of their uniqueness. A book also gains its distinctiveness from the universality of theme, from the fact that it caters to certain basic psychological and spiritual needs and urges. For some sex may be the dominant urge; for some others yearnings for spirituality may be the urge; there are other urges and needs like one’s eagerness to know more about human nature, about the exotic aspects of certain cultures, etc. A book that satisfies some of these basic needs and urges of man can be a best seller provided it has literary excellence in terms of theme, treatment and innovative technique.


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  1. peter says:

    Wish u good thing in JESUS CHRIST SON OF God

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