[I'd like to make a note that I am not at all an expert on what sells a book or anything of the sorts. This is merely my opinion on a matter I've found troubling for quite a while. ]
We all know about the insanely popular series called Twilight that has sold millions. There are a lot of people out there who question why it's so popular, and then there are others who blame it on advertising, these said advertisers marketing to the "dumb" the "weak" the "beyond stupid."
I find this offensive, not because I'm a fan of Twilight, but because, although marketing helps get word of a book out there, I do not believe it fully helps the sales of a book. Advertising is an amazing tool to use to get the word of a book out there, since word of mouth can only take a product so far. That's all it does. It doesn't force people to buy books.
And you know what the great thing about books are? You can try them out before you buy them. You can read the entire thing in the bookstore if you want, the first five pages, the blurb, the plot summary, all while never having to pay for it. If you want the book after all that, you can choose to buy it. Of course, some people make the mistake of buying a book they find out they don't like, but I know for me that's rare. Most books I buy are books I end up loving because I know how to look through a book and see if it's something I know I'm going to enjoy.
With this in mind, why do people believe advertising contributed to the insane success of Twilight? Sure, without advertising, Twilight may not have sold as much as it did, but those same people who bought it and loved it could also be the same people who bought it and hated it. Advertising didn't tell them to love Twilight. The people who bought the book chose to love it.
Of course, I know there exist sheeple out there who love something just because it's popular, but for the most part, I think Twilight sold itself. There's something in it people love, and I hate it when elitists debate why it's so popular (negatively, mind you). People love it for their own reasons, and to whine about its popularity is just plain arrogant.
Do I wish some of the books that I love could be more popular than Twilight? Well, yes, but I think that's the case with anyone who loves a book he or she feels is underrated.