Book Business

Bestselling Books in 1974

Starting today, and every six months, we are going to take a ride in the “way-back” machine (with special acknowledgment to Mr. Peabody and Sherman), traveling back in time to grab a snapshot of what books were selling on a particular date and year. To get an idea where publishing is today, it’s good to get an idea where we have been.

Forty years ago this week, half-way through 1974 here were the books on the New York Times Best Seller list:

Fiction

  1. Watership Down, by Richard Adams (Macmillan)
  2. Jaws, by Peter Benchley (Doubleday)
  3. The Fan Club, by Irving Wallace (Simon & Schuster)
  4. The Snare of the Hunter, by Helen McInnes (Harcourt Brace)
  5. Cashelmara, by Susan Howatch (Simon & Schuster)
  6. Burr, by Gore Vidal (Random House)
  7. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John le Carre (Knopf)
  8. The Partners, by Louis Auchincloss (Houghton Mifflin)
  9. I Heard The Owl Call My Name, by Margaret Craven (Doubleday)
  10. The Other Side of Midnight, by Sidney Sheldon (Morrow)

Non-Fiction

  1. All The President’s Men, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster)
  2. Times to Remember, by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (Doubleday)
  3. You Can Profit From A Monetary Crisis, by Harry Browne (Macmillan)
  4. Plain Speaking, by Merle Miller (Putnam)
  5. Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, by Piers Paul Read (Lippincott)
  6. The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Harper & Row)
  7. Thomas Jefferson, by Fawn Broodie (Norton)
  8. Working, by Studs Terkel (Pantheon)
  9. Management, by Peter Drucker (Harper & Row)
  10. The Memory Book, by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas (Stein & Day)

The prices were interesting to note as well.  The hardcover editions were right around $10.  Trade paperback editions were from $6.95 to $8.95. (Everyone used fives in prices)  Inexpensive mass paperbacks were $1.95.

Of course, in 1974, the average household income in the United States was around $12,000 per year, so everything is relative.

Christian publishing in 1974 was dominated by a few extremely fast-selling titles.

The Living Bible (Tyndale) was selling millions, but the best selling book of the year in the Christian market was The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan. It sold ten million copies while it was in print.

A sampling of other Christian books published in 1974:

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W. Phillip Keller

Discover Your Spiritual Gift and Use It, by Rick Yohn

How to Live Like A King’s Kid, Harold Hill

Peace Child, by Don Richardson

Something More, by Catherine Marshall

Truths That Transform, by D. James Kennedy

Have any of the books in today’s post had an affect on your life?

Leave a Comment

A Matter of Experience

Sometimes I’ll have one of those days where I’m minding my own business, when I pick up the phone to discover the author on the other end of the line is irate. (No, this is not a rerun of an article from the 20th century. I do still have a …

Read More

Why You Shouldn’t Be Depressed by Facebook

Lately I’ve been seeing articles about how some people find personal status updates on Facebook and other social media depressing. Apparently people put on their best “faces” so their lives seem better than yours. Most of these articles aren’t written from a Christian perspective, so they ignore the fact that …

Read More

Editing Etiquette

Writers and editors have a love-hate relationship. Okay, sometimes it can feel like a hate-hate relationship. Writers all know they need to be edited, but getting the manuscript back with those edits can be more painful than passing a kidney stone. And editors know they need to respect the author’s …

Read More

Actually, The World is Pretty Big

At one time or another, every one of us have remarked how small the world is, usually caused by meeting someone by chance and finding out that you both know a certain person, or went to school with the person, are both reading the same books, are fans of the …

Read More

What Do You Do When Your Technology Fails?

by Steve Laube You may have noticed that our website has been having some trouble these past few weeks. The entire site was down three times, once for 48 hours. And then at other times it was running very slow. We think we’ve traced the problem to the fact that …

Read More

The Paranoid’s Guide to Things That Are Out to Get You

This is the second in a three-part series on attitudes, specifically for people in publishing, but probably applicable to just about anyone. Two months ago I addressed the issue of pessimism. Today, we’ll talk about the first cousin of pessimism…fear. If a book were to be written about fear, it …

Read More

Success! Are You Ready?

Recently one of our faithful readers asked, since there are so many blogs about handling failure, if I would write a blog on how to handle success. Here are a few of my thoughts, in no particular order: Once you are successful, prepare to… …be gracious. Whether you struggled for years …

Read More

It Takes a Committee

One well-known and frustrating fact about seeing a book finally accepted is the looooooong process. Trust me, literary agents would like to see the process move faster, too. Believe it or not, the fact that at most large publishers, a proposal must go through several rounds of review before a …

Read More

Why an In-the-Know Agent is Your Best Partner

Even in the tightest market, new opportunities develop. Not only can authors keep up with these opportunities by being well-connected themselves, but this is just one part of your career where partnering with a great agent is key. Why? Because editors don’t always put out a call to every writers’ …

Read More