As suddenly as the <i>Gunslinger</i> arrives, he leaves

After roughly a month, I've just about given up on The New York Times' weekly Graphic Books Best Seller List.

It's great for publishers, in that it allows them to slap "A New York Times Bestseller!" on the cover, but I don't see that the list tells much -- if anything -- useful.

I concede I might be late to that realization. However, the mystery of The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born leaves me wondering what we should make of the list, which, like the other Times book charts, employs a mysterious, and often-criticized, formula.

Last week, Marvel's 2007 adaptation of the Stephen King fantasy epic appeared, as if by magic, atop the hardcover list, unseating Watchmen. Although I couldn't find an obvious reason for the book's performance, I was willing to accept that the upcoming release of The Dark Tower: Treachery hardcover or another miniseries might've renewed interest in the original. (Or did I completely miss a new edition or reissue?)

But this week The Gunslinger Born is nowhere to be seen. Watchmen again rests comfortably upon its hardcover throne, followed by a trio of Batman-related books.

It's as if last week never happened.

More than half of the hardcovers in last week's Top 10 are still there, moving a few positions in either direction. But last week's No. 1? There's no gentle drift back down the list. Just ... poof.

Perhaps the lists are too short; if we were to see, say, the Top 20, maybe The Gunslinger Born would be peeking at us from No. 11 or 12. Or maybe the sampling is so small that a relatively minor change in sales triggers a major shift in position?

Or maybe it's neither of those. It just seems odd.

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