Books: Spiritual Gin

BESTSELLERS

by John Sutherland

Routledge & Kegan Paul; 268 pages;

$18.95

George Eliot dismissed the popular novels of her day as "spiritual gin." She may have been right. Since 1895, when U.S. fiction was first listed by "demand," bestsellers have turned many into bookaholics. Of the 2,000 new novels per year in the multibillion-dollar American and British markets, a large number are deliberately and cynically aimed at the top of the charts. Only about 40 will achieve the distinction "bestselling" (at least 100,000 hard cover, 1 million paperback). But those 40 can speak volumes...

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