Archive for the ‘Bestsellers’ Category

Word of Mouth Success: GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

9780670026197_2f9f3A sleeper hit from the fall is doing well on multiple bestseller lists, rising as spring titles start to replace many others from 2016.

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles (PRH/Viking; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample), is not only still on best seller lists, it is climbing.


With media attention and the largest wave of publisher PR over, it is word of mouth that is propelling the novel upward.

It debuted at #82 on the Sept. 22nd USA Today list. This week, five month later, it rose to #40 . The Indie Bestsellers Lists currently has it at #3 and the novel has never fallen out of their top 11. On the LA Times list it has ranged from a low of #18 to a current high of #2. The NYT list is not as strong but does show a steady rise from outside the top 15 to its current position at #10.

Ron Charles, book reviewer for The Washington Post, and clearly an admirer, wrote upon its publication:

How delightful that in an era as crude as ours this finely composed new novel by Amor Towles stretches out with old-World elegance. [It] offers a chance to sink back into a lost attitude of aristocracy — equal parts urbane and humane … this is a story designed to make you relax, to appreciate your surroundings, to be a person on whom nothing is lost. And don’t worry: There’s some gripping derring-do in the latter parts. (Hollywood: Why haven’t you snapped this up?).”

Library patrons are also interested. Holds remain above a 3:1 ratio in most systems we checked.

As we noted earlier, this marks a significant leap for Towles. His debut, Rules of Civility, did not break into the NYT top ten, rising only as high as #16 and holding that position for just one week. Beyond its continued success on bestseller lists, Gentleman was both an Indie Next pick and a Fall Reading favorite from Entertainment Weekly.

Best Seller Debut: THE GIRL BEFORE

Monday, February 6th, 2017

The Girl BeforeThere’s a new girl in town. Landing at #5 on the NYT‘s hardcover fiction list is JP Delaney’s psychological thriller, The Girl Before (PRH/Ballantine; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Interviewed in the NYT‘s “Behind the Best Sellers” column, Delaney connects his novel to a nonfiction sensation, saying “he wanted to explore the ‘weird and deeply obsessive’ psychology of minimalism, evident in the fad for [Marie] Kondo” author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

“On the face of it,” he tells the paper, it “is baffling — all that focus on folding and possessions. But I think it speaks to something that runs deep in all of us: the desire to live a more perfect, beautiful life, and the belief that a method, or a place, or even a diet, is going to help us achieve that …But my book is about what happens when people follow it too far. As one of my characters says, you can tidy all you like, but you can’t run away from the mess in your own head.”

The book is cleaning up in libraries, showing heavy holds that have increased over the last several weeks. Demand is likely to grow stronger as word spreads about its appearance on lists. It is currently #15 on the USA Today list.

Librarians predicted the book’s success. It is the #1 LibraryReads pick for January 2017 with the following annotation:

“A page turner that is sure to be a hit. Each chapter alternates between two time periods. Back “then,” there is Emma, looking for the perfect flat. Her agent suggests One Folgate Street, built by architect Edward Monkford. In present day, Jane, a single thirty-something also ends up on Folgate Street. Both women learn the sinister history of the property and readers won’t know who to trust as Delaney’s debut clutches you by the throat and won’t let you go.” — Kara Kohn, Plainfield Public Library District, Plainfield, IL

It was a hit with our GalleyChatters as well. Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library (NJ) described it as “a high speed ride through a tale of obsessions with twists and turns that don’t stop until after the final page is turned.”

The Trump Bump

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

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Few would have predicted that Donald Trump’s presidency would give a boost to book sales. Even fewer would have predicted that it would bring back into vogue several classic titles. 

There have been many news stories on the phenomenon, as we reported earlier, after several older books, including George Orwell’s 65-year-old title, 1984 began rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, Today, the USA Today best seller list confirms that these books are selling well across all outlets, and Orwell’s dystopian novel is #1.

A spokesman for mass market publisher Signet puts that into perspective, telling USA Today, “we have printed in one week more copies of 1984 than we sell in a typical year.” 

Several other titles are also getting boosts. At #25 is Hannah Arendt’s 1951 examination of the rise of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, The Origins of Totalitarianism, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

On the other hand, somewhat further down the list at #38 is Trump’s own book, Trump: The Art of the Deal, (PRH/Ballantine). 

Last night, Trump helped to fuel sales of the upcoming Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos (S&S/Threshold, March), currently at #5 on Amazon’s rankings, by jumping into the controversy that surrounds that book. The author, a senior editor at the right wing site Breitbart, who has been accused of hate speech, was set to speak at  at UC Berkeley, but that appearance was cancelled due to violent protests. Trump tweeted the threat, “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

NYT Makes Cuts To Bestseller Lists

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Several NYT best seller list are no longer being updated. With little advance notice, the NYT announced that it is eliminating “a number of their print and online bestseller lists,” starting with this week’s lists, dated Feb. 5.

PW reports the lists for “graphic novels and manga, as well as the lists for mass market paperbacks, middle-grade e-books, teen e-books have been eliminated.” Entertainment Weekly says those books will be eligible for the remaining fiction lists.

The comic world is outraged. Eric Reynolds, an editor at Fantagraphics Books, told the New York Magazine “Good comics have forever had to scratch and claw for legitimacy and resist marginalization, and this feels like a step backwards.”

A spokesperson for the NYT told New York magazine that “The discontinued lists did not reach or resonate with many readers … This change allows us to expand our coverage of these books in ways that we think will better serve readers and attract new audiences to the genres … [the change] allows us to devote more space and resources to our coverage beyond the best-seller lists.”

“Comics need to be measured against themselves, not the larger whole of books,” Charles Kochman, editorial director of Abrams ComicArts, the graphic novel imprint of Abrams, told PW.

The comics site The Beat reports that the decision came from New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul, who took to Twitter to say, across three tweets:

“Quick note to fellow comics/graphic novel fans: The Times is not cutting back on coverage of these genres/formats but rather expanding on coverage in ways that reach more readers than the lists did. To wit: new graphic reviews by comic artists, more reviews and more news and features about then [sic] genre and it’s [sic] creators. We are big fans, and want to recognize growing readership. Stay tuned.”

On the mass market side, PW quotes Steven Zacharius, CEO of Kensington Publishing, saying cuts were “enormously troubling … [it] effects sales, and not having this list will hurt authors tremendously.”

Click here for the NYT‘s full statement.

Back to the Future

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

1484156264-atwood1-1484154644UPDATE: Another older title experiencing a sudden boost is Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1985). As the NYT reports, several signs spotted at the recent Women’s Marches made reference to the book. In addition, producers of the upcoming Hulu TV adaptation, which debuts April 26 starring Elizabeth Moss, say it  intentionally parallels the current political atmosphere.

1984-01George Orwell’s 1949 classic dystopian novel, 1984 (PRH/Berkley; Blackstone Audio; PRH/Signet mass market) is making headlines and is the bestselling book on Amazon.

Its popularity has brought a 75,000 copy reprint from Penguin USA, and a possible additional printing.

The NYT reports that demand for the novel rose on Sunday, after Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, used the phrase “alternative facts” during a contentious interview on Meet the Press about White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s first press briefing.

Entertainment Weekly reports “The connection between ‘alternative facts’ and Orwell’s dystopian novel was made on CNN’s Reliable Sources, where Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty said, “Alternative facts is a George Orwell phrase.’ ”

The Guardian writes that readers and reporters were quick to make comparisons to the novel’s “fictional language that aims at eliminating personal thought.”

Outside of the United States interest is strong for the novel as well. The NYT reports that this January “sales have risen by 20 percent in Britain and Australia compared to the same period a year ago.”

happen-hereAs we posted earlier, 1984 is not the only classic getting increased attention since the election. Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here (PRH/Signet; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample), is also selling well, both in the US and the UK. Penguin re-printed it in Britain last Friday for the first time since its original publication date and adds that they are “already on to our third printing.”

The NYT published a new essay on Lewis’s novel, which Jon Meacham also mentioned in his newly launched book essay series for the paper,”The Long View.”

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Other dark political classics doing well on Amazon include Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (HC/Harper Perennial; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample), Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (S&S; Tantor; OverDrive Sample), and Orwell’s Animal Farm (PRH/Berkley; Blackstone Audio).

Oprah’s Cookbook is a Bestseller

Friday, January 13th, 2017

9781250126535_8f394Oprah’s first cookbook and the first book under her new imprint with Flatiron, Food, Health and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life (Macmillan/Flatiron; OverDrive Sampledebuts on the new USA Today best seller list at #4.

USA Today says it is “not an official Weight Watchers cookbook” although Winfrey is “a Weight Watchers investor and spokesperson who has been appearing in the program’s commercials.”

Winfrey has been made appearances on several shows to promote the book, including CBS This Morning, Rachel Ray, Dr. Oz, and Stephen Colbert. Many media outlets, such as Parade, are featuring recipes. Eater features it as well, linking it to other celebrity cookbooks.

UPDATE: Oprah is featured on the cover of the new issue of People magazine. The story (not currently available online) focuses on Weight Watchers, but also features her cookbook.

Libraries generally bought in large numbers and holds are hovering at 3:1 ratios or below.

Librarians might remember that the first cookbook associated with Oprah did very well. USA Today points out that In the Kitchen with Rosie: Oprah’s Favorite Recipes, by her personal chef Rosie Daley, “was No. 1 on USA TODAY’s list for a remarkable 16 straight weeks.”

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

9780316403436_e8038Maria Semple appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, to discuss her new book Today Will Be Different (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample). As a result, the book made an impressive jump on Amazon, moving from #1,038 to #381.

Host Terry Gross introduced the conversation by saying “It’s both hilarious and moving to read [main character] Eleanor’s most ungraceful attempts at self-improvement” before turning the actual interview over to Fresh Air producer Sam Briger.

He began by asking Semple about the book’s opening, a funny, kind of heartbreaking, mantra listing the kind of person Eleanor wishes to be. Simple says that when she sat down to begin the book, “I almost wrote that first page word for word. As soon as I finished it, it had this spooky, kind of scary, nauseating energy about it. And I thought wow, I think I’m about to embark on writing a novel that takes place in a single day.”

The interview concludes with a discussion of Semple’s earlier work as a TV writer for shows such as Arrested Development and Mad About You

Holds are strong in libraries, with several reaching 4:1 ratios on high numbers of copies.

Kelly and Sanders
Prove Politics Sells

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

9780062494603_df2feThe Fox News host and political touchstone Megyn Kelly lands at #1 on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction Best Sellers list this week with her memoir Settle for More (HarperCollins/Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample).

The book got a boost beyond her own built-in audience with the news that she writes about Donald Trump’s bribery attempt to bribe her as well as others in the press. As we have written previously, Vanity Fair‘s headline on the story asserts, that, by holding this information until after the election, Kelly “Blew The Goodwill She’s Built,” as an “improbable feminist icon” and one of the strongest voices standing up to Trump during the election.

Adding to the publicity, USA Today reports that Amazon has deleted “several politically motivated negative reviews … after a flood of one-star ratings drew media attention.” Writing that “This scary phenomenon essentially means that a small, angry, vocal group can flood a space with fringe views that masquerade as majority opinion,” Slate reports that “a whopping 76 percent of the [reviews] were one-star.”

9781250132925_2fc19On Kelly’s heels is the new political call to arms from Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Macmillan Thomas Dunne Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample). It debuts at #3.

The Wall Street Journal writes that both books are selling, reporting that “In the first six days on bookstore shelves, Ms. Kelly’s memoir sold 64,000 copies, while former Democratic presidential contender Sen. Sanders’s book sold 45,000 copies.” The article goes on quote Sanders’s publisher as saying “He’s been waiting nearly his entire life to give this message to huge audiences … Happily, they’re buying books.” As for Kelly, one independent book store owner told the paper, “People are interested in her book because she was right in the middle of everything.”

THE SELLOUT Sells

Friday, November 4th, 2016

selloutThe first US author ever to win the Man Booker Prize, Paul Beatty, is seeing a strong uptick in sales as a result. We have already reported that The Sellout (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample) jumped on Amazon‘s sales rankings, and now it hits the USA Today Best-Selling Books list at #12, its first time on the list.

This is the first time any of Beatty’s books have hit the USA Today list. Before the Man Booker, The Sellout appeared on the IndieBound best seller list, with a high of #19. It was also briefly on the L.A. Times list, where it started off strong but soon dropped.9780316251334_a0111

Another new face to the USA Today list, at least in the top ten, is Brent Weeks who is holding the #10 spot with The Blood Mirror (Hachette/Orbit; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample), the fourth in his Lightbringer series. Weeks has been on the list before, his previous high was #26, for The Broken Eye (book three in that same series).

Fredrik Backman, Breakout Star

Monday, October 31st, 2016

9781476738017_59bd6The NYT features the author of A Man Called Ove (S&S/Atria, July 2014) and other bestsellers this weekend, highlighting his improbable rise to celebrity status.

Like his character Ove, Fredrik Backman is something of an unlikely star. He was largely ignored by publishers who either rejected his debut novel or simple ignored his query letters. He worked night and weekend shifts as a forklift driver to afford time to write during the day and for a while, it seemed like it would all be for nothing. One publisher told him his work had no “commercial potential.”

Now his debut novel is a feature film and a breakout hit. It has sold over “2.8 million copies worldwide, making the book one of Sweden’s most popular literary exports since Stieg Larsson’s thriller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” writes the NYT.

The novel’s appeal is global, selling in 38 languages, but its start in the US was, similar to its reception by Swedish publishers, rocky.

Reports the NYT, “it sold steadily but in modest numbers. Then sales surged. It landed on the best-seller list 18 months after it was first published and has remained there for 42 weeks. Demand has been so unrelenting that Atria Books has reprinted the novel 40 times and now has more than a million copies in print.”

The US publisher credits the surge to independent booksellers, “who placed big orders and pressed it on customers. The Book Bin in Northbrook, Ill., has sold around 1,000 copies, largely based on word-of-mouth recommendations.”

The Daily Beast has also examined the novel’s word-of-mouth success.

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Librarians have adopted Backman as their own as well, making Britt-Marie Was Here (S&S/Atria Books) a #1 LibraryReads pick and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (S&S/Atria) a LibraryReads selection. Galleychatters have also followed Backman with great interest.

9781501160486_50211The success of Ove fueled the sales of others of Backman’s quirky novels and has led, as we noted earlier, to more book deals. The first of which hits shelves on on Nov. 1, the novella, And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer (S&S/Atria). Deadline Hollywood reports, that like Ove, it “centers on an elderly man, who struggles to hold on to his memories, face his regrets and help his son and grandson prepare for his death.” It will be issued in a “small-format hardcover,” with illustrations. His next novel will be Beartown (S&S/Atria, May 2, 2017).

In a very Ove take on life, Backman finds fame a problem. “Everyone keeps telling you how great you are and what a great writer you are” he tells the NYT. “They want selfies, and that’s not healthy, because you start liking that … You still have to write like you’re writing for 20 people, or you’re going to freak out.”

GUERNSEY Gets Another Lead

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

9780385340991 Downton Abbey favorite Lily James is set to star as Juliet Ashton in the film adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer (PR/Dial, 2008), reports Deadline Hollywood.

Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Love in the Time of Cholera) will direct the film, re-titled Guernsey.

Don’t  make plans for a popcorn themed book club meeting just yet. This is at least the third set of actors/directors associated with the somewhat troubled adaptation.

In 2013 the BBC reported that a project helmed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Kate Winslet had been tabled with Simon Curits taking over direction and a new, unnamed, actress replacing Winslet.

As we noted in February, the project has had several big names attached with little outcome. Rosamund Pike was reportedly in talks to star at the start of the year.

Filming for this latest attempt has yet to begin. The project currently has a 2018 completion date according to IMDb.

RBG On PBS

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

9781501145247_4fd79There have been several books about the Notorious RBG, also known as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The first book written by her, appropriately titled, My Own Words (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) debuts on this week’s hardcover NYT nonfiction best seller list.

She was the focus of the most recent edition of the NewsHour Bookshelf. Gwen Ifill interviews Ginsburg, opening with a question on how she became a cult icon.

Ginsburg says it has been “utterly amazing” and credits a second year law student at NYU who started the Notorious RBG Tumbler blog, posting Ginsburg’s dissent to the gutting of the Voting Rights Act (that post eventually led to a book, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, HarperCollins/Dey Street Books, an unexpected hit last year).

Ifill says her reputation as a “folk hero” also has something to do with the way she writes and takes on her colleagues.

Ginsburg also says that until Jimmy Carter’s presidency it was unrealistic that a woman could ever be appointed to the Supreme Court. When she graduated there was not a single woman on any Federal bench. Carter, although he never got to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, changed that by appointing women to the Federal bench, paving the way for Ginsburg.

As we noted earlier, Ginsburg wears a special collar when she is on the dissenting side. The end of the PBS piece reveals she wears a gold lace one when she is with the majority opinion.

Holds to copies are not huge, but some systems are showing spikes of 5:1 ratios.

Holds Alert: DESIGNING YOUR LIFE

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

9781101875322_3da0eThe book version of the most popular class at Stanford tops the latest NYT‘s Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous list.

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) applies the principles of design thinking to the career planning/self-help movement, teaching readers how to solve problems in creative ways and craft a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

The book has received media attention including coverage in the NYT, WSJ, [subscription maybe required], and Forbes. Fast Company offers the most exhaustive report, highlighting the point of view and processes of Burnett (the executive director of Stanford’s design program) and Evans (who has worked at Apple and is a co-founded Electronic Arts).

The magazine reports the goal is to change higher education, as Evans puts it, of “forming you into the person that will go out into the world, effect change, and be a leader. … [inviting ] people to live intentionally, in a generative, thoughtful way, and we give them a bunch of tools.”

Burnett says that class fits the anxiety of our current times very well, “The thing that’s true about design problems is that you don’t know what the solution is going to look like … You can’t know the future, but you can know what’s available and you can prototype different versions of the you that you might become.”

The class is so difficult to get into and so transformational that Evans says “We’ve had students literally teach the class on the side to their friends who weren’t enrolled.”

The same approach seems to be fueling library demand where holds have skyrocketed in some systems, topping 6:1 ratios.

Below is the book trailer:

But the following discussion gives more insight into the authors’ process and thinking:

THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10
Catches a New Wave

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

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Fall books have replaced most of the summer titles on best seller lists, but one is still going strong. Months after its publication on July 19, Ruth Ware’s second novel,  The Woman in Cabin 10 (S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample), continues at #17 on USA Today’s list released today, and is therefore declared “a sleeper hit.”

According to the book’s publicist, quoted by USA Today, the success is due in part to word of mouth and the April release in paperback of Ware’s debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood, which “set the table for Cabin.”

Although it was listed on multiple summer reading lists, it received few reviews in the consumer press, other than a glowing mention in a thriller roundup from the Washington Post comparing it aptly to Alfred Hitchcock’s films.

Librarians were early advocates. Both her novels have been Library Reads picks as well as Galleychat favorites.

Library holds queues are long are growing.

More is coming from Ware. She signed a deal with her British publisher for two more books, to be released in the summers of 2017 and 2018 and Reese Witherspoon acquired the film rights to her first book, In a Dark, Dark Wood.

Best Sellers: Patchett Hits New Highs

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

9780062491794_46ce0Ann Patchett lands at #4 on the USA Today Best-Selling Books list, making Commonwealth (Harper; HarperAudio) her highest ever debut.

According to the paper, Bel Canto reached #8 in 2003 but debuted at #70 and State of Wonder hit, and peaked, at #12.

Commonwealth is #1 on the PW Fiction list, making it likely to land on the NYT‘s list at #1 as well when the Oct 2 list comes out later this afternoon.

Library patrons are echoing the sales figures. Holds are strong on all formats at libraries we checked.

It looks like Jonathan Burnham, publisher of HarperCollins’s Harper imprint, was correct when he told The Wall Street Journal “It’s probably the most commercial novel Ann has written yet.”

As we noted earlier, it is a darling of critics. It made most, if not all the fall reading previews. It is also the Indie Next #1 pick for September; Entertainment Weekly gave it a solid A review; The Guardian says it is “outstanding;” and Jennifer Senior reviewed it early for the daily NYT, calling it “exquisite.