Indeed, time is a determining factor. There is certain timing that will make certain books sell well. Books about former Indonesian president Soeharto, for example, have been selling well following the demise of this former ruler of the New Order regime. Similarly, books about Barack Obama, a U.S. presidential candidate, are in great demand.
There are many reasons why a title can be a best seller or otherwise. The intrinsic factor of a book does not always make it a best seller and, similarly, the factors that make a book a best seller cannot always be detected clearly. In U.S.-published Writer’s Guide 2000, one article on the U.S. book industry says that there is no exact way to know whether a manuscript will later become a best seller or not. In other words, the book industry relies on feeling.
However, although feeling is an important factor in the book industry, the article also says that something like a rational assumption is also needed to determine which manuscripts may become best sellers. In fact, whether or not a book becomes a best seller is determined not only by the strength of the manuscript but also by how it is packaged and, last but not least, by the marketing strategy adopted. (Burhan Abe)
The Jakarta Post, June 26, 2008