The New York Times Book Review is adding new categories of Best Seller lists and changing up its approach in print

Which list will I be on?
Which list will I be on?
Image: AP Photo/Steven Senne
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The New York Times Book Review is getting a partial makeover, with an expanded collection of Best Seller lists covering nonfiction niches from animals to humor to travel. The Times announced the new categories on Thursday, and will introduce them over the next few months.

Here are the brand new lists:

  • Travel
  • Humor
  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Animals
  • Religion, spirituality and faith
  • Celebrities

The Review also is pulling from other sections in the paper—sports, science, business—to include lists that appear or used to appear on those pages. Other lists that until now have been online only—manga; food and fitness; and politics—also will be cycled into print.

The print edition will rotate the new lists, featuring only a few niche categories weekly. So even as the number of lists grows, the section actually will carry one less page of lists in print. A sample of the revamped section shows how the humor list gets cycled in:

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Image: New York Times

The Sunday Book Review, which usually runs about 32 pages, used to have six devoted to lists. This is the second time in the past two years that a page of lists has been cut, bringing the number of list pages to four.

The changes come as authors increasingly are using the web to build greater followings and establish themselves as experts in their field. All of the Times Best Seller lists will be available online, which could add to the digital brand-building efforts of authors. The print section, meanwhile, will have more room for essays, reviews, or features.

Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul tells Quartz that the growing ability of authors to locate target audiences online didn’t factor into the paper’s decision to develop the new lists, though she does believe that the internet is changing the way readers discover books or writers. ”I think that authors and readers are able to have closer and more frequent forms of contact depending on interests on both ends,” Paul says.

For Paul, increasing the number of best seller lists was, she says, a way to address the diversity of reader interests, and to introduce people to topics they might not have considered before.

While the changes might better target readers’ personalized needs, they perhaps also still provide that serendipitous experience of old-school bookstore browsing. The website, featuring all the lists, might be just the place for readers who either know what they want or enjoy choosing from as wide a selection as possible. And maybe the rotating Sunday Book Review lists in print can do what smaller, independent book stores often are so good at, helping people arrive at the perfect choice, after guiding them to books they didn’t even know they were looking for.