Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Garfield's too big

I recently came across an amazing list. While this might not have much to do with marketing research, it does underscore how incredible the power of "the masses" can be -- often trumping the power of the intellectual elite.

The list was generated by the Online Computer Library Center. They're the folks who, along with their member libraries, cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat -— an electronic catalog of books and periodicals (not to mention a few stone tablets and MP3s). If you've ever spent time searching for library books online, chances are you were using a WorldCat database.

Anyway, about the list... It's the 2005 edition of the Top 1000 works that are owned by 53,000 libraries in 96 countries. They started with nearly 495,000 WorldCat items, then counted how many libraries had how many copies of each item. The top five listings shouldn't be a surprise to anyone:

1. The Bible
2. U.S. Census
3. Mother Goose
4. Divine Comedy
5. The Odyssey

The next five should present no surprise, either: The Iliad, Huck Finn, Lord of the Rings, Hamlet, and Alice in Wonderland.

Furthermore, I have no beef with numbers 11 through 14 -- Don Quixote, Beowulf, The Koran, and The Night Before Christmas.

Number Fifteen, however, I had issues with. Garfield.

That's right. Garfield. The orange cat.

In terms of library dollars allocated to assure the institution had a copy available, Garfield beat out Tom Sawyer, Romeo & Juliet, Treasure Island, The Scarlet Letter, and Last of the Mohicans. In fact, there are over two times more copies of Garfield books in the OCLC libraries than Last of the Mohicans!

If you love books, or if you love lists, you'll probably enjoy browsing the complete list.


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