Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bestsellers, with a Lot of Asides--What's Our Bestselling Non-Event Hardcover of 2011?

A little meandering never hurt anyone, particularly on a Sunday.  Unless you are going to a Mother's Day brunch, and then you might miss your reservation.  Let's start with some bestseller action:

Hardcover Fiction
1. Missing the Boat, by Dwellephant & Justin Shandy
2. Caleb's Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks
3. We the Drowned, by Carsten Jensen
4. The Tragedy of Arthur, by Arthur Phillips
5. A Moment in the Sun, by John Sayles
6. The Sixth Man, by David Baldacci

Sayles' new novel is set in the 1890's and runs nearly 1000 pages.  The McSweeney's folks are no stranger to that and more power to them.  Publishers Weekly says the novel is among his finest work.  Don't you think the cover recalls Amy Stewart's Wicked Bugs You think this wouldn't be appropriate, but Sayles documents his own wicked bugs, only in this case, they are people. A Moment in the Sun seems like something Boswellian Conrad would read, but I know he was reading The Tragedy of Arthur, as he just finished it.  Hooray for introductions of lost plays as novel!

Oh, and the event with Geraldine Brooks for Caleb's Crossing is this Thursday, May 12. We just sold a lot of books the first week out. Five dollar tickets available here. And if you buy a ticket, you get the book at Boswell's Best price. Forgive me for harping.

The Carsten Jensen event went well. Expectations were all over the map. Cerebral European novel? Oh, that might be tough.  Several Boswell raves, a Journal Sentinel shout out, and a viral video from Stacie? How could it miss? The results were 25 folks, which is respectable for this sort of thing. If we had hosted Tranyra, the tattoo-artist-pawn-broker-single mom who has a daughter who competes in "little miss" beauty pagents and is somewhat embarrassed by her mom's untraditional sexuality which leads to some crazy situations and serious wine throwing, and has two concurrent reality series airing (and a cooking show in the works) and an inspirational memoir just published (launched concurrently with her new clothing line*), we might have done a bit better, but maybe not. And besides, they would have probably held the event in a store that carried the clothing line.

Hardcover Nonfiction
1. Bossypants, by Tina Fey
2. Reason to Believe, by Deval Patrick
3. My Germany, by Lev Raphael
4. Creating Dangerously, by Edwidge Danticat
5. Lost in Shangri-La, by Mitchell Zukoff

My rule of thumb on bestsellers is that bulk sales don't count (unless the book is new and they are mixed in with other sales) but events do, because multiple people are making the purchasing decision. That might be why we never get the call to order 100 copies of whatever book for whichever author. That said, I couldn't help a call out to Edwidge Danticat's book of essays from Princeton, especially because we have been selling the book pretty steadily since it came out.

Oh, and congrats to Tina Fey, whose Bossypants officially becomes our bestselling, non-event, non-bulk-sale hardcover book of 2011. And what did it beat out? Believe it or not, it was Patrick Rothfuss's Wise Man's Fear. If you know Rothfuss (and you might, as he lives in Madison), please suggest an event at Boswell.

While we're counting, #3 is The Tiger's Wife, and #4 is Room, which is particularly impressive as that novel came out last fall and will be out in paper shortly. It's what I gave my mom for Mother's Day. And it's Jim Higgins' Mother's Day pick in today's Journal Sentinel. The paperback is out May 18.

In paperbacks and kids books, we're very event heavy. It was hard to find a non-Mo-Willems sale amongst them, but we did have a nice first week for Rick Riordan's Throne of Fire, volume two of the Kane Chronicles. 

For photo wrap-ups, there are plenty of shots of authors at the podium, both from the side view and further back straight on.  I noticed that several authors have had to slump a bit when talking, as they like to grip the podium's sides.  It does not make for a gracious photo, so I do not include them here.  I did like one shot of Alexander MacLeod and Clark Blaise, who I learned that night had taught at UWM at the beginning of his career.  It showed them signing in the audience chairs, because the podium doesn't work for two and a signing table winds up being lonely unless you have at least 50 people at the event.  But I'm not including this photo since it makes it look like we had less folks at the reading than we actually did.  So there.  All photographic illusions must enhance the reputation of the store!

On Thursday, Mo Willems posed for a few shots so the audience could get their photo snapping out of the way and concentrate on enjoying the reading. Good idea!

*Oh, and a new scent called "Valuptuous!" It started as a spelling error, but then everyone realized that it would be easier to trademark, and might work better on Valentine's Day. Who knows?

No comments: