Writing for the BBC, Carolyn Atkinson explores the murky waters of the the UK bestseller lists:

Authors and publishers all want to sell enough books to have a bestseller. But is a bestseller always actually a bestseller? Not necessarily if a publisher has paid to get on a shop’s bestselling shelves, or staff base the rankings on what they predict might be popular…

BBC Radio 4’s Front Row programme has found that publishers often pay booksellers to be in their stores and, in one case, on its bestselling list.

WH Smith has racks of books in numbered positions under the heading “new and bestselling”.

One publisher shared an email trail with Front Row that details its negotiations with the high street chain over a new book.

In the email, WH Smith asked for £2,000 in exchange for promotional space, including a position in the fiction chart – for as long as sales warranted it – and the book of the week slot…