A wonderful reference tool by the man who edited the Oxford Companion to American Literature, and of reading interest to those concerned in the social backgrounds and the pressures that shaped ""best sellers"" from the Bay Psalm Book to todays sensationalism. The approach is quite different from Mott's Golden Multitudes, the two definitely complement each other. The re-examination of past factors in molding big sales indicates pertinent factors for consideration in weighing a particular book's chances. Scholarship is leavened with wit that makes reading the book a pleasant and profitable excursion into America's past. An essential for libraries, schools, and groups studying contemporary as well as writing of the past.