Publishers Lunch noted today that Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking - a backlist title for nearly fifty years - has reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list.
Now, step with me into the Wayback Machine if you would. It's time for a lesson in publishing history:
When Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy was in theaters several years ago, both the mass market AND trade paperback editions (published by Del Rey Books and Houghton-Mifflin, respectively) of The Hobbit and the various editions of the Lord of the Rings were selling more than enough copies to warrant being listed on the NYT bestseller list. However, the New York Times refused to list any of the books in the series, stating categorically that they do not list backlist titles on the bestseller list.
This is absolutely true: the NYT doesn't list backlist on their bestseller list.
Unless you're Robert Ludlum.
Or Jane Austen.
Or Julia Child.