When the sunset goes down, the books that were left on the bookshelf are the last ones that will survive the apocalypse.
That is the conclusion of an exhaustive research project by a group of researchers that was published Thursday in the journal PLOS ONE.
The study is part of a growing literature about books that have survived the end of the world.
The group was able to determine how the books survived a prolonged blackout that wiped out the major publishers in the mid-20th century, and how the world’s largest independent publishers, which had many more publishers at the time, managed to survive the storm.
“If you’re a bookseller, you’re going to have a pretty hard time surviving the end-of-the-world event, because most of the books you have on the shelf are going to be books that you’ve bought over the years,” said lead author Andrew Lippman, a professor of marketing at New York University.
“The only books you can expect to have in your library at the end are those that are in print, and you have a very limited supply of those books.”
A decade ago, a similar study led by Lippmans team found that about 40 percent of the best-selling books in the U.S. during the late 1980s and early 1990s were not available when the blackout hit, and most of those were from independent publishers that had just started to flourish in the 1990s.
“It was pretty clear that the books were very, very hard to find,” Lipps said.
The researchers also found that some of the biggest booksellers were struggling to get their books back online, especially after the end.
For example, in 2009, a New York Times best-seller called The Great Train Robbery was one of the most popular books on Amazon.com, a leading online retailer that offers discounts and free shipping for books, when it was nearly shut down for more than two weeks.
That same year, a study by researchers at the University of Southern California’s Luskin School of Business found that most of America’s biggest bookstores were offline during the pandemic, including a number of major bookshops, such as Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Borders, which operated independently from the major retailers.
But that did not stop the major bookseller chains from keeping online books, including many books that had been in print for decades, such a popular children’s book series by Alice Walker.
A new survey of more than 200 major bookstores, bookstores and other bookstores published by major publishers this month found that many of the largest retailers continued to operate online, but the survey did not include a full list of the top 10 books that stayed online.
“There was a lot of talk about how hard it was to get online,” said co-author Alex Pazos, a senior research analyst at BookScan, a data and analytics firm.
“I think the takeaway is that bookstores have to keep publishing, because there’s no going back.”
Even as bookstores are facing dwindling inventory and lower-than-anticipated sales, a large chunk of books continue to survive on the shelves of their bookshopped counterparts.
A few of the popular books that are still available on Amazon are the ones that have made the cut for the bestsellers list, and they have an average age of nearly 20 years, according to the survey.
One of those is “A Song of Ice and Fire: A Children’s Novel,” a children’s series by Brandon Sanderson and George R.R. Martin, that has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide.
That series was released in 2006, when the booksellership in the United States was at a low ebb.
The book has been in circulation for more years than most of Sanderson’s other novels, and sales have risen.
“When we talk about the longevity of books, it’s about the books we know are there,” said Pazs, who was not involved in the study.
“So the question is, how much longer do you keep publishing?
If you think of a book as a piece of furniture, if it’s a book shelf, you might think about keeping it up until it’s broken down.
But the books themselves are there, they just don’t sell as often as they used to.”
The survey also found the books of people who were still alive were more likely to have been published than those who were dead, and those who survived were more than twice as likely to still be selling books.
“We’re trying to look at the survival rate of books and how they’ve survived a severe, catastrophic event,” said Lippmann.
Some of those survival rates might be more than 50 percent