Best of 2011

November 9th, 2011

Ah, Christmas is well on its way, and what does that mean?  That’s right!  The endless round of Best of 2011 lists has already begun.  Isn’t that a little unfair on those books that will come out in the last two months (some 17%, after all) of the year?  Yes, maybe it is.  But who cares about fair?  Not me, that’s for damn sure.  Because I note in passing that no less an organisation than have published their list of the best books of 2011, and this ain’t just fantasy, or even just fiction, this is everything.  And look who’s tucked in there at No. 22, a little below Julian Barnes’ Booker Winning Sense of an Ending and a little above The World of Downton Abbey?  Why it’s only Joe Abercrombie’s The Heroes.  Hello.

So does this mean that if you still wrongheadedly insist on saying my books suck that Amazon will call you a liar and flush your head down the toilet?  Well, not totally.  I don’t doubt that quality came into the decision making process, but Amazon weren’t born yesterday (1994, actually), and as a very successful bookseller I daresay they always have at least one eye on commercial concerns.  So perhaps a better name for this list would be, 50 books we think we’re going to be able to sell the most shit-loads of copies of up until Christmas, 2011.  But is that such a bad thing?  Now I’m wondering which list I’d rather be on.  The Best Books.  Or the Books we think we’re going to be able to sell the most shit-loads of copies of.

Let me think about that.

For about three seconds.


Posted in Uncategorized by Joe Abercrombie on November 9th, 2011.

30 comments so far

  • Fran says:

    Now that the 3 seconds are up I think you can agree that it’s all good. Congratulations! 🙂

  • Fordy says:

    “Isn’t that a little unfair on those books that will come out in the last two months (some 17%, after all) of the year?”

    Yes, Joe. Yes it most definitely bloody is.

    But I’m sure I’ll get over it… maybe.

  • Ross says:

    Is it perhaps the fabled all-singing, all-dancing kindle version that legend (that would be you Joe) once spoke of?

    It did sound good….

  • Robb says:

    Well your earned it Joe. Perhaps next year it will be…the top 10? Lets hope.

  • enjai says:

    I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned the goodreads voting. Your book is on the shortlist and got my vote. It may not reflext the shit-loads of sales but I’m sure it can help.

  • Phil N says:

    So going by that list, if they just did a fantasy one you’re second place behind A Dance with Dragons.

    Not a bad place to be, and with [A] Red Country out in 2012 and (probably) no The Winds of Winter until 20?? you should be in a shot at 1st place next year.


  • Graham says:

    As I discovered you this year Joe I think I would put all 5 of your books on my best of 2011 list…. can I please have 5 more next year?

  • Elfy says:

    I’ve always thought it’s a bit unfair, which is why I don’t do a best of until Jan 1 of the New Year. The Heroes has been hanging in there in my top 5 since early this year, though.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    I suppose it is a little unfair on those books that came out in January as well, so far back that people can scarcely remember them…

    You can have fifty. They will just be the same books you read this year. But don’t let that deter you from buying them.

    Yeah, I guess I just don’t see myself getting anywhere in that vote…

    Good point that. It was supposed to be appearing a month or two ago but is evidently still held up. I will look into it.

  • Ian says:

    Honestly,I cannot understand this mania with putting down lists with best-of everything.
    10 best restaurants not to miss
    10 best apps must-have for your phone
    10 best beers to celebrate etc,etc…It reminds me so much of the Trainspotting poster a few(!) years back,
    “Choose a tv,choose a washing machine,choose your fookin’ life”

    How can you measure sweet oh sweet hapiness reading Glokta’s toothless razor-sharp remarks?
    How can you measure listening the divine melodies of “Achtung Baby”?
    How can you measure the awesomeness of Darth Vader?

    Clearly such lists exist only as a marketing plot to bring you what’s hot,what’s cool and what you SHOULD be buying!

    With that being said, did it ever occur to you Joe that you might become “mainstream”?
    I mean,I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Martin has become mainstream but after the HBO “Game of Thrones” series last year,there a lot more people knowing him now.And he has written a score of books before that.

  • SwindonNick says:

    To be fair, the credit should go to us that spent our valuable pennies on the book. It is recognition of our achievement not yours!! All you did was write the book!

  • Matt says:

    I’ve always wondered the same thing about sellers’ “Best of” lists. Love the candor!

  • Khaldun says:

    Perhaps Joe is being modest in not also reminding us that ‘A Red Country’ got the number 1 spot in Fantasy Factions list of “Top 10 Fantasy Books due in 2012” article?

  • Dav says:

    To be honest, I thought Dance With Dragons was one of GRRM’s worst books to date; it just…I mean, I loved the plot Jon Connington and ‘Griff’ especially, but come on – the writing was mediocre for him and some scenes were on a par with Myrish Swamp.

    The Heroes was my second-favourite fantasy book of the year. Should be higher, but us readers be squeamish.

  • JonathanL says:

    Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year, anda well-deserved mention.

    Dav, I agree about ADWD. It wasn’t a bad book, but after six years of waiting, it was a lot more waiting for the most part. I liked it, but it wasn’t the best book I read this year. Maybe top 5, but below “The Heroes” and “The Magician King” for sure.

    But I don’t do complete lists until I’ve heard everything that I was reasonably interested in from that year. Congratulations to “Best Served Cold”, officially My Favorite Book From 2009.

    As to the purpose of lists, it’s just fun to remember how much you enjoyed the works of art and entertainment you experienced in a given time frame. I like to see how many albums I listened to, how many movies I saw, how many books I read and/or listened to, how many games I played.

  • James says:

    @ Ian. Why do you act like is there something wrong with that? Yeah, clearly such lists exist only as a marketing plot to bring you what’s hot….then again, I got introduced to Joe Abercrombie off such a list. You saying that’s a bad thing? And yeah, people SHOULD read his books, they’re fantastic.

    You just seem to dislike these lists purely because they’re popular, and nothing more, there’s nothing rational behind it. You mention Trainspotting, but Trainspotting wasn’t about hating something just because it was popular, it was more about hating the fact that those facets of life had become obligatory primary goals of peoples lives.

  • Ian says:

    My dislike is aimed towards the fact that there is a trend to make us all like or buy specific products.
    What I object to, is the “must-have” aspect of these lists not the products they contain.
    Additionally, since like and dislike is so much a personal state of mind,I cannot understand how you can measure what I should like and what I should dislike.
    Can you say you like 3 kgs of Joe?
    Or 5 pounds of Martin?

    My mention of Trainspotting was exactly to illustrate that you don’t NEED to buy a specific TV or a specific book in this case.
    Marketing plots are trying to create false “needs” that can only be fullfilled with specific products – in our case you
    NEED to buy item number 4 on the list to become cool or hot or whatever.

    You could argue that sometimes such list act as pointers to products that might be of your interest (as you mention you discovered Joe via such a list).
    Fair enough,I’ll give them that,the “infotainment” bit.

    But honestly I don’t want to read Joe’s next book because it’s hype or cool or hot or because it’s disctated by a marketing list.
    I want to read it because it appeals to me or at least because I think it’ll contain what qualities I came to value in Joe’s work.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    You’re right, it’s all down to you, the little people.

    Candor is my middle name. Except when it’s potentially disadvantageous to my commercial prospects.

    Good point, I’d forgotten about that…

    It’s a little unsurprising though that a bookseller would exercise means of selling books, isn’t it? And such lists can serve to provide recommendations one might not otherwise consider, or reminders of things one has thought in the past one should try. As far as recommendations go, I can’t measure what you should like or dislike, but I can tell you what I like or dislike and you are free to weigh whether my tastes might intersect with yours. I guess you could argue that no one NEEDS a TV, but without one I will miss Strictly Come Dancing, god damn it, and if my old one blows up a list of recommendations from a reliable source might be quite useful in getting a new one I will be happy with. I think if anyone’s consulting amazon’s top 50 in the hope it will make them hype or cool they have alas already missed that boat…

  • JDP says:

    I’ve been waiting to get the Kindle version of The Heroes, but have a policy of not buying ebooks that are more expensive than their hard-copy counterparts 🙁 It’s getting hard to stick to it though!

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Where are you? In the UK the hardcover is £8.99 on amazon and the kindle edition 7.99, in the US the hardcover $16.49 and the kindle $13.00.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Although looking more closely I do note there are more recent trade paperback editions in both UK and US that are cheaper than kindle. Interesting. I’d certainly expect them to drop the kindle price-point below mass market when that appears, although with the mighty discounting amazon do you never can be sure.

  • James says:

    @ Ian

    One of the main faults with what you’re saying is that the list isn’t ‘making’ anybody like anything. Obviously. At most it is a stern recommendation. Big deal. And when I say people should buy The Heroes it’s only because I feel in all likelihood they’ll love it. I’m not saying they should buy it because they have to like it because that’s what cool people do…or something. And neither is this list. You’re getting caught up on semantics and imagining meanings between the lines that don’t exist.

    Regardless it’s not really important if the list is saying we ‘should’ buy those books because we should or will or might like them. The fact is that a lot of people will like those books and this list can let them know about them. To be against this list is to be against people broadening their horizons and discovering enjoyment they may have gone without, had it not been for this list. To be against that because you personally don’t like some peoples reasons for reading this list and buying a book on it is simply petty. Yes, you don’t want to read Joe’s next book because it’s hype or cool or hot or because it’s dictated by a marketing list. But that’s irrelevant. If people get enjoyment out of The Heroes purely because it makes them feel cool (LOL, how absurd), or they buy it purely because it’s cool, let them, it’s harmless, and it’s not your business. There are no negative repercussions to that. These lists only benefit the industry and the people who read them.

    And I know what you were saying about Trainspotting. But comparing this list to the pressure society puts on us to have consumerism and procreation as our highest concern and priority in life, what Trainspotting criticized, is a major leap. Trust me, these lists don’t hound people about these books with the same profuse insistence as people do about me ‘choosing life’, as Trainspotting put it.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    I wonder if my books have ever been accused of being cool before…

  • Mark C says:

    Another important point I need verified: are people using the word ‘hype’ to replace the word ‘hip’ now?

    Mark C

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Hype replacement?

  • FelixH says:

    I wonder why there’s always such a strong defensiveness whenever someone points out that the commercial or habitual way of doing things might not be the a real indicator of quality, but that it’s rather more often a routine exercise without much forethought.
    So is this list a great thing or not? I would be surprised if many really cared.

  • Neal Asher says:

    It took you a whole three seconds???

  • Storm in the High Places says:

    First few hours of SKYRIM… Amazing.

  • James says:

    Oh and I think your books are very cool XD

Add Your Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *