A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

League Table update

I like to post this sales chart every three or four months. As always, it's weighted towards those books that have been out for 3 years rather than 3 months.

A few interesting moves: the top 3 is getting very tight - the long, long reign of Pernice and Miller may not last until the summer. The Stones, Joy Division, and VU books are gaining fast on the Floyd. The Zeppelin and Bowie books both seem to have a new lease of life, while those on Neil Young, Love, and Dusty are - sadly - looking a little fragile comparatively. Bob Dylan will not be stopped. Neither, by the look of it, will MBV. And Menck's Byrds book is off to a flyer, as well.

A few I'm confused by: why is the DJ Shadow book so high? And why are the REM, Costello, James Brown, and Sly Stone books so low? And seriously, I know it's early days, but does Joni deserve to be at no.43? Finally, where the hell will the Celine Dion book end up on this chart?

1. The Smiths
2. The Kinks
3. Neutral Milk Hotel
4. Pink Floyd
5. Rolling Stones
6. Joy Division
7. Velvet Underground
8. The Beatles
9. Radiohead
10. Love
11. Neil Young
12. Beach Boys
13. DJ Shadow
14. Dusty Springfield
15. Led Zeppelin
16. David Bowie
17. Jimi Hendrix
18. The Replacements
19. Beastie Boys
20. Jeff Buckley
21. The Band
22. Bob Dylan
23. Pixies
24. Prince
25. The Ramones
26. My Bloody Valentine
27. R.E.M.
28. Bruce Springsteen
29. James Brown
30. Elvis Costello
31. The Byrds
32. Nirvana
33. Abba
34. Jethro Tull
35. The Who
36. Sly and the Family Stone
37. Stone Roses
38. The MC5
39. Guided By Voices
40. Magnetic Fields
41. Guns N Roses
42. Stevie Wonder
43. Joni Mitchell


Anonymous said...

Honestly, am I missing something: why is there even a Celine Dion book coming out in the first place? I'm I not in on the joke?

Unless it's completely tearing the whole record apart I can't see why anyone would even think to pick it up. There's your future #44 right there. Loved the MBV and GN'R books though! Can't wait for London Calling and Daydream Nation!

Anonymous said...

All I know is my goddamned Flipper book would have stomped the shit out of all of these goddamned books. ;)

Anonymous said...

Joni Mitchell's albums have been written about and discussed as nauseum in many books on her life and on the websites devoted to her. Who wants to read another take on Court and Spark? Just how many more angles need to be covered? Maybe when she's no longer with us, sales will pick up.

Anonymous said...

I think the Celine Dion has the potential to put this series in another league.

Do not discount it at all: there's an enormous and loyal fanbase of Celine Dion, and while most of us don't have a single friend that likes her music, I can tell you that the book will probably resonate a lot with an older readership. This will lead the baby boomers to take notice of the other titles in the series, thus ensuring that they pick up the classic rock titles (Pink Floyd, Beatles, Led Zep, etc) as well.

Even if they don't pick up other books in the series, because they think the Celine Dion book is a fluke in the series, I'm sure they'll still enjoy owning the little book on her music.

So beware: the Celine Dion could be the little book that could, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's well in the first 20 positions before long.

Anonymous said...

I read the books on the Byrds and MBV one right after the other. I'd been waiting for that book on The Notorious Byrd Brothers more than any other title in the series so far, but I have to say that I was disappointed at how it concentrated so much on the lives of the band members and tensions in the studio and really didn't offer any critical insight into the content of the album. In fact, it threatened to make me love this album less, because now I know that Crosby was such a jerk! It was a tough read, too, because the text copy was so rough, with a mistake of some kind on almost every page of the thing.

I'm glad that I read the book on Loveless after the one on the Byrds. It was fantastic, and it had its share of insight into the band members' personalities and studio recording atmosphere, but it also offered insight into the songs and operated on a number of layers beyond interpersonal relationships. The writing was smart and witty and snappy. Great stuff there!

The book on REM's Murmur is still the best in the series in my opinion, so yeah, it's sad and a bit confusing that it's coming in lower on the list.

Anonymous said...

The Loveless book is truly great

Anonymous said...

If I understand the concept of the Dion book (isn't it ABOUT the author's attempt to figure out what it is appeals to people about her?), it is guaranteed to appeal not at all to her actual fans (who I suspect aren't much for wanting to read thoughtful criticism of their fave) and only to people into quirky punkish nose-thumbing curiosities--it'll be the METAL MACHINE MUSIC of the series, an d I expect will indeed be the worst seller ever. however, it is a sign of the curious boldness of the editors, and to be cheered for that.

After my rejection, very eager to see if another of the (many) proposals for "my" band got picked up---if I was wrong in my choice, or just failed to measure up...

Anonymous said...

I am willing to bet that the Celine Dion book will sell surprisingly well. I also bet I will freaking love it.

It seems to me that long-term many of the series' bestselling books will be for artists like MBV, NMH, and DJ Shadow -- artists with a certain air of mystery about them about whom very little has been written elsewhere. The DJ Shadow book was the first one I bought in the series, and I bought it because I had long loved the album but had never read a single thing about its making.

In the long run, I wouldn't be surprised if books on artists like, say, the Beatles or the Stones drop somewhat on the list (unless they are books that uniquely pair author and artist in a way that transcends the vast quantities of material already out on that artist).

The Bob Dylan book may prove me wrong. Or it may simply prove that Dylanologists are a cut above all other fan bases when it comes to devouring material on their hero.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to the A Tribe Called Quest book to drop. The hip-hop presence is sorely lacking. And no, The Beastie Boys and DJ Shadow are not hip-hop. The Beasties are close, but not really.

Anonymous said...

Are the last round of rejections on the way out today?

John C. said...

I've bought two books in this series so far: Michaelangelo Matos's Sign 'O the Times and Sean Nelson's Court and Spark. I bought the former because I like the writer, and I bought the latter because I love the album.

I'd not actually read that much about Court and Spark before -- from everything I have read, I kind of thought that Blue was the canonical one, even if Court and Spark sold more -- so I was excited to delve into it, and it was definitely worth it.

After Daydream Nation and Aja, I'm probably most interested in the Celine Dion book, and it's for two reasons: a) Carl Wilson is one of my favorite music writers anywhere, and b) I love the idea of challenging the canon and exploring what makes Dion so popular, rather than just rhapsodizing about an album that thousands of people have already sung the praises of.

bonjourtristesse said...

Thanks for the list...I can't wait to see Grandaddy added (Sophtware Slump) I'm going to guess...hmmm, maybe #56...just putting it out there!

Anonymous said...

Apropos of nothing, someone who knows what's what should really update the wikipedia entry on the series: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/33⅓

It seems to be rather out of date and several of the newer books aren't included, and I think a few #s are wrong?

Anonymous said...

The DJ Shadow book is so high because people must like it, obviously. Also obvious, you don't. Not nice to show such bias toward your own catalogue,

David said...

I was simply expressing surprise that the DJ Shadow book has outsold the books on Bowie, Zeppelin, REM, James Brown, and so on. I simply would never have predicted that. Which is why I'm probably the wrong person to be editing this series...

Anonymous said...

what a bizarre/nasty comment...

I thought it was pretty obvious that he was surprised the shadow book was so high because he is a relatively obscure artist in the catalogue.

I account for the high neutral milk and shadow showings because a. both records have a rabid fan base and b. there is less written on those artists than someone like bowie, therefore if you like shadow and want to read something about him, you'll buy the book.

It's so nice to see both hip hop books fairly high up, it's a good sign for future editions, which I hope to see more of in the coming years (can't wait to see how the tribe book turned out).

Anonymous said...

I think another reason for Shadow's appeal is the expanse of his fans in the jam-band genre. Of course there are a few others on this list that would also appeal to these folks... But DJ Shadow has definitely made the rounds of the festival circuit (heck, that's where I first discovered him). Also, to echoe a previous comment, there isn't much else out there on him (and it's a damn shame).