Hot Beach Reads? No Chance – Poll Names Books Least Likely to Top Summer Bestseller Lists

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A new Zogby poll finds that an obscure physics book tops a list of books least likely to compete with Harry Potter to become the summer's hottest beach-read. Sponsored by Lulu (http://www.lulu.com), the Internet's leading print-on-demand book company, the study proposes a new term --"nichebusters"-- to describe books written for a narrow audience.

Non Equilibrium Systems and Irreversible Processes – Adventures in Applied Topology (Vol. 3)

An obscure physics book written by a retired professor is poised to emerge as a cult hit and an antidote to this summer’s big Harry Potter novel – after topping a nationwide poll to find the new book LEAST likely to become a #1 bestseller and “hot beach read.”

In the first poll of its kind, a book entitled "Non Equilibrium Systems and Irreversible Processes – Adventures in Applied Topology (Vol. 3)" out-pointed such rival volumes as "How To Cook A Peacock" (a translation of a medieval French cookbook), "Ten Crochet Dude Dishcloths" (featuring ten new dishcloth patterns from the Crochet Dude) and "Creating Pastel Champions – A Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Model Horses with Pastels."

The survey of 1,200 Americans was conducted by Zogby on behalf of Lulu (http://www.lulu.com), a website that has become the world’s fastest-growing producer of print-on-demand books by enabling individuals to publish their own book at no up-front cost and sell it on the Net.

“My books are very mathematical texts and if they sold several thousand copies I expect it would be a miracle,” comments Robert Kiehn, a retired (emeritus) professor of physics at the University of Houston with over 55 years experience as a physics researcher and teacher, including at the famous Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Other titles to make the top ten list of unlikely beach-reads included "The Gulf-Coast Shipbuilding-Cluster (Condensed from Gulf Coast 1-10 Research Directory)" and "The School of Hard Knocks: The Evolution of Pension Investing at Eastman Kodak."

Two of the nominated books – "The PinBotz Guide to the Greatest Pinball Machines of the 80s and 90s" and "Seven Crochet Dude Afghan Squares" – can nurture some lingering hope of becoming summer bestsellers, given that only 4% of respondents tapped each as the book with least chance of doing so.

Not Blockbusters But "Nichebusters"

"Almost 200,000 books are published in America each year," comments Bob Young, CEO of Lulu. "Only a few dozen stand a chance of becoming bestsellers. The ten books in this poll represent the other 99.99% of books.

"They are not blockbusters but ‘nichebusters’ – quality books targeting a niche rather than mass audience. They also happen to be the future of publishing."

The cost savings allowed by print-on-demand publishing, explains Young, mean that books can now be published for far narrower markets than traditional publishing could serve. Books, indeed, such as "Non-Equilibrium Systems" and "How To Cook a Peacock."

The former is a 395-page, perfect-bound, black-and-white book, which sells for $19.95 (http://www.lulu.com/content/66270) – mainly to university libraries across the world. It is part of a seven-volume series on the subject.

The movie rights are, at the time of writing, still available.

Young himself, meanwhile, is currently writing a book titled "The Electric Golf-Cart Encylopedia" for eventual publication on Lulu. "If I finish it on time," he says, "I want to nominate it for next year’s poll."

  • The Zogby Poll Results in Full:

Q. Which of the following recently published books do you think is LEAST likely to become a #1 bestseller or “hot beach-read” (while still being perfectly interesting to its own target reader)?

1. Non-Equilibrium Systems and Irreversible Processes –Adventures in Applied Topology (Vol. 3)

http://www.lulu.com/kiehn    28%

2. How To Cook A Peacock

http://www.lulu.com/content/78981    23%

3. Creating Pastel Champions – A Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Model Horses with Pastels

http://www.lulu.com/content/74705    8%

4. Ten Crochet Dude Dishcloths

http://www.lulu.com/content/123237    8%

5.Mastering Law Enforcement Chaplaincy

http://www.lulu.com/content/111794    8%

6. The School of Hard Knocks: The Evolution of Pension Investing at Eastman Kodak

http://www.lulu.com/content/119166    7%

7. The Gulf-Coast Shipbuilding-Cluster

http://www.lulu.com/content/51112    7%

8. The Replica Watch Report

http://www.lulu.com/replicabook    5%

9. Seven Crochet Dude Afghan Squares

http://www.lulu.com/content/125555    4%

10. The PinBotz Guide to the Greatest Pinball Machines of the 80s and 90s http://www.lulu.com/pinbotz    4%

Just over one in four (28%) respondents tapped "Non-Equilibrium Systems (Vol. 3)" as the book least likely to become a #1 bestseller – while just under one in four (23%) picked "How to Cook a Peacock." 8% each gave that honor to, respectively, "Creating Pastel Champions," "Ten Crochet Dude Dishcloths," and "Mastering Law Enforcement Chaplaincy."

Twice as many respondents tapped "Ten Crochet Dude Dishcloths" as picked its partner, "Seven Crochet Dude Afghan Squares."

About Lulu.com: Lulu (http://www.lulu.com) is the world’s fastest-growing producer of print-on-demand books – and a way for authors of all kinds to publish and sell their books. Founded by Bob Young, who previously co-founded Red Hat, the open source software company, Lulu provides independent publishers with free access to on-demand publishing tools for books, e-books, music, images and calendars.

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Stephen Fraser
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