USA Today suspends book bestseller list; Bookforum shutters

Dec 11, 2022, 9:36 PM | Updated: Dec 12, 2022, 2:12 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — USA Today’s weekly chart of top-selling books is on indefinite hiatus after the newspaper’s parent company, Gannett, laid off the editor in charge of compiling the list that’s closely followed in the publishing industry.

“USA Today’s Books list will be on hiatus for the remainder of the year,” a spokesperson told The Associated Press on Monday. “We will share further updates in 2023.”

In a separate move, the highly regarded literary magazine Bookforum announced Monday that it was shutting down after being sold by Artforum International Magazine to the Penske Media Corporation. Bookforum began in 1994 as a literary supplement to Artforum and had featured writing by J.G. Ballard, Jennifer Egan and many lesser-known contributors.

“Bookforum was a rare and extraordinary magazine,” the writer Moira Donegan tweeted Monday, “one of the few places where a new writer can try out ambitious projects, and a place that never asked me to make my writing simpler, less weird, or more palatable.”

Last month, Astra magazine abruptly shut down after publishing just two issues, with contributors including U.S. poet laureate Ada Limón, novelist Ottessa Moshfegh and essayist-fiction writer Leslie Jamison. The president of parent company Astra Publishing House, Leying Jiang, said in a statement at the time that the decision was based on “unexpected challenges” in the marketplace.

Gannett laid off hundreds of staffers earlier this month, including Mary Cadden, who had worked on the list for more than a decade.

USA Today drew upon hardcover, paperback and e-book sales from a wide range of outlets, including independent stores and online retailers, to put together 150 bestselling books from a given week. USA Today’s list has been highly valued by authors, agents and publishers, who also look to lists from The New York Times and, among others.

Sarah MacLean, a bestselling romance novelist who had noticed that USA Today did not update its list last week, said she and many of her peers valued the USA Today rankings because of their length, diversity and transparency.

“You get a broader view of the publishing industry and what people are reading,” said MacLean, whose books — most recently, “Heartbreaker” in early September — have frequently appeared on the USA Today list. “For a genre like mine, which is often forgotten, the USA Today list was invaluable.”

The New York Times breaks down its charts into various categories of 10 or more bestsellers, from children’s picture books to hardcover nonfiction. USA Today, on the other hand, combined everything into one list of 150.

In early December, novels by Colleen Hoover and Jon Meacham’s biography of Abraham Lincoln appeared longside Harlan Coben’s latest thriller, romance books by Jennifer L. Armentrout and Ali Hazelwood and a boxed set of Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” series.

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USA Today suspends book bestseller list; Bookforum shutters