The Absolute Definitive List of the Top Ten Best Selling Genres


Popularity of Historical Novel by CenturyApparently, it is impossible to find one absolute definitive list of the top ten best selling genres anywhere–but can you find a list with 150? Yes, if you know where to look!

There are SOOO many variables out there from website to website. What is the focus? Is it hardback fiction, hardback non-fiction, paperback, or ebook? Are you asking the New York Times, USA Today, or Amazon? I recently wrote an article regarding Historical Fiction, and alluded to that genre’s sub-genres. This week I went looking for where the Historical Fiction genre related to all the others. See below for the breakdown.

Goodreads                                                                                                                       Goodreads is more than happy to break down some of their most reviewed or commented and they do keep lists. I wrote earlier about their Goodreads Choice Awards for 2016. These are the only major book awards decided directly by readers themselves and accounted for over 3.5 million votes. And, incidentally, the book voted fiction winner was Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty, which is also listed on Amazon in the top 20 overall customer favorites (and the same author achieved the USA Today top ten list at #5 by Big Little Lies released in August 2014). Perhaps that’s really the better “algorithm” we have, since Amazon won’t share theirs and include those books offered as freebies that may or may not have actually been read (and hopefully enjoyed). (Can you spell BookBub? Or Free Kindle Offer?)


Another blog article I wrote–some time ago–involved the convoluted and super secret algorithm to arrive at Amazon’s “best sellers rank.” It’s long been a contention that best sellers rank is not achieved through reviews, sad to say, as some authors go to extraordinary length to achieve some level they can use to market. The common idea about the best sellers rank is that it takes into account more than sales (i.e., reviews). Not so.

The rank uses only sales, excluding sales to yourself (sorry). (Of course, if you get a bunch of reviews that relegates your star rating to five, I say that can’t hurt as people DO look at reviews before their purchase and word of mouth is golden.) Don’t quote me, take it up with expert Rob Nightingale where I got the source for my original article, who says, and I quote, “Contrary to belief, paid and free books on Amazon are weighted the same when it comes to the Amazon Bestsellers rank…” I’ll say it again:

Books are weighted the same, whether free or paid. Bingo! Best Sellers Rank!

New York Times

No problem finding the top five best sellers on the NY Times! The problem is finding the genre. Additionally, they divide their list in interesting ways. For instance:

Combined Print & E-Book Fiction as of January 31, 2017

  1. A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
  2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  3. Full Package by Lauren Blakely
  4. The Mistress by Danielle Steele
  5. The Whistler by John Grisham

But then they go on to list Hardcover Fiction, in which The Mistress is listed as #1, Combined Print and E-Book Non-Fiction, Hardcover Nonfiction, and Paperback Nonfiction. Ms. Steele’s book is considered Literature & Fiction, Family Saga (not Romance).

USA Today (As of March 16, 2017

Hoorah! USA Today analyzes sales of booksellers weekly and prints the best 150 top-selling titles. Finally, a link where we can find, not only a listed order of popular books, but their genres! Better yet, it appears manipulative so you can search by rank, author, or title, fiction or nonfiction, and genre. Alas, I don’t see one historical fiction in the top ten. You can change the calendar date on the website, but I wasn’t able to search for the genre selected (I’m not a real techno-person.) Here is the line-up for the first ten (mixes fiction and nonfiction), including their genres:

  1. The Shack by William P. Young-Genre:Religion/Inspiration
  2. Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs-Genre:General fiction (vampires, really, general fiction?)
  3. Dangerous Games by Danielle Steel-Genre:Romance
  4. Unshakeable by Tony Robbins-Genre:Business
  5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty-Genre:General fiction
  6. Portraits of Courage by George W. Bush-Genre:Literature/Poetry/Drama/Art
  7. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss-Genre:Children
  8. Brighter Than the Sun by Maya Banks-Genre:General fiction
  9. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman-Genre:General fiction
  10. The Obsession by Nora Roberts-Genre:Romance

Four out of the ten or 40% in General Fiction doesn’t break it down and two out of the ten or 20% considered Romance genre–on some lists considered #1 popular genre (see list below).


Thomas Stewart wrote back in 2014 that the top genres raking in the bucks were these five:

  1. Romance/Erotica
  2. Crime/Mystery
  3. Religious/Inspirational
  4. Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Harry Potter)
  5. Horror

Mr. Stewart goes on to say, “the Bible is the ultimate bestseller…that little number does a lot to boost the religious and inspiration genre.” We’d also have to keep in mind several heavyweights, such as Stephen King in the horror genre, John Grisham in the Crime/Mystery genre, and Danielle Steele in the Romance genre. You can’t deny, however, Harry Potter and the Hunger Games with overpowering the Fantasy genre. Given the date Tommy wrote his article, I’d have to wonder whether his assessment has again changed. Perhaps you have a good website detailing genre ranking. I’d love to hear your source! Can you beat USA Today? ©Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Author: Rosepoint Publishing

I am the granddaughter of Patrick John "Stanley McShane" Rose whose books including "Cocos Island Treasure" I've recently published. My time is now spent in reading, reviewing, and writing bookish articles. I'm looking forward to sharing this social media odyssey with you!

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