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Sell, sell, sell! The decade in bestsellers, part one: 2006-2010

We can't think about the essential novels of the decade without thinking about the best-selling novels of the decade. Sales certainly aren't the only indicator of critical success or cultural importance, but it's a pretty important one. It's one of the few indicators that lets you know how many people came in contact with that book (regardless of how they felt about it!).

Lots of factors affect sales: scoring a big endorsement (hello, Oprah), winning a big award (hello, Giller) or being a big name (hello, Margaret) will ensure you end up on the higher end of the bestseller list. But sometimes word-of-mouth or simply being a damn good book can affect sales. It's getting harder and harder to gauge the market, and as a result, more and more surprises are popping up on bestseller lists and in award nominations. At a time when publishing houses are shrinking and bookstores are closing, a self-published novel turn can into a runaway success, and a Canadian novel can sell half a million copies right here at home. How books sell has been turned on its head this decade and, if the e-book explosion is any indication, it's only about to get crazier.

So how did we pull together this list? We looked at the bestseller lists from the Globe and Mail, Quill and Quire and Amazon.ca, and came up with the top three best-selling Canadian novels of each year of the past decade. We broke the decade into two parts: 2006-2010 (shown below) and 2000-2005 (which will be published later). So without further ado, below are the top three Canadian bestsellers from each of the past five years!

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2010

2010 isn't over yet, so the sales status of these titles is still a work in progress. What's interesting, however, is that The Book of Negroes is back near the top, 500,000 copies and three years after it was first published.

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre


2009

William P. Young's self-published phenom The Shack dominated the charts for years, and has sold over a million copies world-wide. It topped the American bestsellers list for 70 weeks until early 2010. It was a heavy-hitter in Canada, but didn't achieve quite the same level of chart dominance.

The Shack by William P. Young

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre


2008

This year saw impressive sophomore showings from two current CanLit icons, Joseph Boyden and Miriam Toews.

The Shack by William P. Young

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews


2007

We see a clear Canada Reads boost with the 2007 winner, Lullabies for Little Criminals, creeping into the top three.

Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay

Divisadero by Michael Ondjaate

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill


2006

Remember the 2008 television show Douglas Coupland's that mid-decade effort inspired? Me neither.

The Birth House by Ami McKay

JPod by Douglas Coupland

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

So, which best-selling book do you think deserves a chance at the Canada Reads title? Each vote will be worth one point to the book's overall score. Cast your vote below and don't forget to share your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below. And don't forget to submit your own recommendation -- those are worth a vote too!

Note: an earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Yann Martel's Beatrice and Virgil was a bestselling title in 2009, which is impossible, as it was not published until 2010. Canada Reads regrets the error.


Erin Balser is an associate producer of Canada Reads.
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