A magazine of history and ideas.
Lapham’s Quarterly is using the online publishing platform Manifold to publish long-format texts online.
For more about Lapham’s Quarterly, visit laphamsquarterly.org.
Forgotten Best Sellers
What makes a book a best seller? Why are some best sellers forgotten?
Best sellers offer a window into the thoughts and habits of the cultures that consumed them, and when they remain popular they act as a bridge between the present and the past, creating an imagined community of readers who have been on the same reading journey and who share a set of interests or ideas.
But many books that once reached a wide audience are no longer read today. These forgotten best sellers can show us the ways in which the world has changed, offering a glimpse into what makes us different from the readers of the past—how our world is distinct from theirs, how tastes and habits have altered, how publishing practices have shifted.