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Friday, November 05, 2010

Bestsellers in Architecture

Like a gazillion other people, today I got an email with a link to Amazon's Best of 2010. For whatever reason the editors don't have a Top 10 for the architecture subcategory (there is one for the category under which architecture is nested, Art & Photography, but no architecture books are represented), but a glance at the Bestsellers in Architecture reveals the below top 20. What can we learn from this list?


Looks to me like architecture doesn't sell. Interior design comprises most of the list, but only one or two architecture books are found here: Matthew Frederick's hit from MIT Press and a reference book about Revit (I'm inclined to think of #20 more as a baseball book than an architecture book). Most of the books are new, though I'm glad to say Frederick's book came out in 2007, making it something of an anomaly. And what about the first and second spots? Travel/science writer Bill Bryson's "authoritative history of domesticity" ranks 26th in Amazon's Best of 2010.

So, are architecture books too narrow in their audience? Is this architecture category too inclusive of marginally related subjects like interior design and electrical engineering? Are illustrated books that comprise most architecture titles too expensive? Do architects not have enough disposable income these days to buy books? Probably yes on all counts. The sub-subcategories, like criticism and architects a-z, list books more familiarly architectural, but their omission from the parent category's bestsellers are another indication that architecture isn't a bestseller.


  1. I found the title "Timeless Elegance" a good idea.

  2. That is a fascinating Top 10 list that confirms many architects' suspicions that people simply don't get architecture or care much about it. All your suggested explanations sound right. Hopefully it is partly the problem of categories, and data base logic may erase all distinctions between one area of design and another. The terrible irony is that the popularity of picture books on interiors, and this obsession with 'decorative' elements of home interiors (illustrated here in this selection of titles) rubs salt into the wound. It is so against the spirit of Modernist architectural philosophy. Imagine what Adolf Loos - with his disdain for ornament - would think, contemplating such titles. I can hear him groaning.

  3. Or maybe there are a lot of architects that do not care about the interior, how people live or work inside the structure.
    By the way, I'm not an interior designer. I love buildings and structures. But there are some people out there that doesn't think the architects are looking after the residents.


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