The Power of the Midlist

3 min read

What is Midlist?

Midlist is the term used to describe those books that fall in the middle of a publisher’s list. They aren’t the top sellers and they aren’t at the bottom. Midlist books have solid sales, but just haven’t received top-selling status. This doesn’t make them any less valuable to readers.

Why Offer More Than Bestsellers?

The #1 reason people go to libraries is for books. Libraries are the most trusted source for book referrals. Promoting yet-to-be discovered favorites will mark you as a prized source for book discovery by your patrons. Need more reasons why? How about these:

  • Library collections have a broad mix of genres from romance, mystery, and science fiction, to all the sub-genres of nonfiction. Your collections also need a broad mix of authors: bestselling, midlist and debut novelists.
  • Many bestselling authors only publish once a year so having a well-developed midlist enables you to meet the needs of any reader, any time.
  • Bestsellers tend to have long waiting lists; a broad selection of midlist titles means more books on the shelves for your patrons to choose from.
  • Many patrons prefer to read midlist or debuts over bestsellers because they are looking for something new or non-formulaic.
  • Many midlist titles are series driven — your patrons can find a new favorite protagonist and follow the whole series.

 “Any good RA librarian will tell you that the midlist is extremely important to readers. After all, when the bestseller books have 20 holds on them, librarians rely on great midlist titles to hand-sell to their patrons.”

— Rebecca Vnuk, editor, Booklist

Readers’ Advisory: Show Off and Shine!

Librarians help create readers. Recognize the advantage you have by recommending new gems to your patrons that they never even knew existed. Your patrons expect you to know about older titles. Your readers know about current bestsellers. Suggest current midlist titles and you will gain their attention.

Meet Reader Demands!

Who knew they were going to be a hit? They started out brand new or were considered midlist authors. Next thing you know, bam! They are all the rage. And everyone wants to read them. Every author started as a debut or midlist author. Every single one!

  • Gillian Flynn’s breakout novel, Gone Girl, was her third novel.
  • All the Light We Cannot See was Anthony Doerr’s fifth book.

By having a well-developed midlist collection, you can avoid those real misses — titles or authors you never heard about and didn’t acquire. Meet your readers’ demands before it becomes a high-demand read.


Thorndike Press has an experienced editorial staff working to make your collection development easy, and the expertise of your peers to help in your readers’ advisory roles. Contact us today for the hottest midlist titles >>Air Jordan 1 Nike SNKRS Restock October 2020

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