What criteria for a good book? A writer in a mailinglist said that book which is reprinted several times, or best seller books, guarantee the quality of a book. This oppinion comes from the assumption if people read a books because they are interested with the book. So, if a book read by a lot of people, because the book is interesting.
Indeed, the assumption might be true. But it can not be fully justified.
If the criteria of a good book is measured by how much readers, how many books are sold, my question is, whether books that have not sold many, not the best seller book, assumpt as a bad book?
In Indonesia there are literary world abreast of the names of great writers have featured his work in various media, be discussed in various forums. However, their books are not reprinted. Nukila Amal, Linda Christanty, or who are senior, Budi Dharma, Danarto, Kuntowijoyo, are the author which known results many quality literary works, but their are not get a knowledgeable response from readers. In some cases, the assestment of the literary experts influenced readers, but in fact the taste of the expert and commons readers are not always in a same step.
For me, there are several factors that make a book can be marketable. For similar work teenlit-chicklit, so as the popular literary work in general, do have many more readers. This may be because the themes offered are simplet. And I suspect, most readers of literature in Indonesia is that they read the paper for entertainment, not to be examined, or to be highly critized. Even if there is a review, it is only vey small percentage if compared to those who read for entertainment, or a more subtle, to search for life lessons.
In addition to popular themes, which can trigger the power is the theme of the book selling polemic, such as "Jangan Main-main dengan Kelaminmu (Do not play with your sex}" by Djenar Mahesa Ayu, "Garis Tepi seorang Lesbian (Border of a Lesbian)" by Herlinatiens, "Tuhan, Ijinkan Aku Jadi Pelacur (God, Let Me Become Prostitutes)" by Muhidin M Dahlan. The polemic topic is unique, the more they are cencored, the more they sold.
In my oppinion, the paramater of a book is good or not, is not depend on the quantity of the readers. The paramater is not the quantity, but quality, the quality of appreciation from readers.
So,is still relevance to discuss a book from how many people buy the book?