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Jeffrey Eugenides

How many best-seller lists are too many for the trade?

NEW YORK -- It has been criticized for being ingrown and unscientific, a weekly work of fiction that - for all its seeming authoritativeness - is shrouded in mystery. So when The New York Times Book Review announced it would begin splitting its paperback best-seller list into two lists, one reserved for quality paperback fiction, a chorus of voices in publishing began parsing What It All Meant.

Some declared it a long-overdue recognition of the importance of so-called trade paperbacks, the larger, more expensive editions that feature works by critically praised writers. Those books have had to compete for spots on the Times best-seller list with smaller, cheaper, glitzier...