Wednesday, July 1, 2009

There are Trends Lurking on our Bestseller Lists--Short and Funny Ones

There are trends lurking in our bestseller lists. I don't know if it's a reflection of our store or what's selling, but here are our top 15 nonfiction paperback bestsellers for last week. There are some events (like the book at #1) and some special orders (like the book at #2) but see if you can spot what was almost screaming at me...

1. The New Jew, by Sally Srok Friedes
2. Mirroring People, by Marco Iacobani
3. Sex, drugs and Cocoa Puffs, by Chuck Klosterman
4. Mary Nohl, by Barbara Manger and Jeanine Smith
5. Killing Yourself to Live, by Chuck Klosterman
6. Drunkard's Walk, by Leonard Mlodinow
7. When You are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris
8. Chuck Klosterman IV, by Chuck Klosterman
9. My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolt Taylor
10. Monster of Florence, by Douglas Preston
11. Dreams from my Father, by Barack Obama
12. I was Told There'd be Cake, by Sloane Crosley
13. Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death, by Laurie Notaro
14. Could it be B12, by Sally Pacholok
15. I hope they Serve Beer in Hell, by Tucker Max

We're selling a lot of short-form humor columns. OK, Klosterman was an event. But it's interesting to me that our best-selling backlist book from him by far was Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, whereas with most authors, the Ian Frazier or Bill Bryson or Dave Barry columns would be considered a filler release between the long-form narratives.

And of course there's Sedaris. And Laurie Notaro, who Downer has always sold. And Sloane Crosley. And Tucker Max.

Is this us, is it of the moment, is this a real national trend? I have no idea. But Jason was talking to Marie at Vroman's who mentioned that there short stories are also trending upwards. Could it be what booksellers have been saying for at least 20 years (it was a tired remark when I started in books many years ago), that busy folks should consider short stories and essays?

Is it time for us to pull out our short stories from the catchall fiction section, in the way we've dreamed (nothing is new of course, Unabridged in Chicago has done this forever)?

The more Jason and I talked about it, the more we realized that our humor and pop and bio sections are a mishmash of titles that could be browsed more successfully in different configurations. I promised we would shakeup a lot of sections, but oh, the day is so tiring. And it's time to set up chairs for Eric Dregni's event. And I really have to get the Saturn Press card order done.

But you never know, you just might walk in and see us actually do a section change we promised. Keep posted, and we'll let you know how it goes.

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